The Mackie farm is a small place, tucked just on the edge of farm. It runs ten acres large and houses seven people, all of which help to work the land and tend the animals. It’s been in the family for years to come and will be in the family for years.
Mostly, the property is devoted to farming. They do tomatoes and squash in the summer and switch to corn in the fall. There’s always a good supply of pumpkins come October and even a nice garden during the winter, where Mother Mackie grows her spinach and enough potatoes to last the family through the coming year.
There is, however, an old chicken coop. It’s made of wood and wire, and home to but a single hen who quit laying eggs long ago. Beside this coop is a small barn, just as worn but quite steady, with a pen hooked up to the rear entrance.
This is where the Mackie’s keep their sheep.
Benny, Gildo, and Orville are the oldest. Molly has only just now reached her second spring. This is the first time that she will be sheared – and, oh, she’s excited!
The young lamb keeps prancing about Tommy Mackie’s feet, bumping her head against his hands. She loves attention and the young boy is quite happy to give it to her, pausing in whatever task he’s involved in to give her a quick scratch or a few pets.
It’s not just a first for Molly, however. No, this is the first time that Tommy will be shearing the sheep on his own. He isn’t excited – he’s nervous! Shearing the sheep is a very important job, you see, and not just because the wool is useful.
No, this is one of the only times that you can really see a sheep’s body. With their thick wool out of the way, it gives Tommy a chance to look each sheep over, better than they have been in months. He runs his hands over their bodies, slick with lanolin, and makes sure that there are no issues kept hidden.
Benny is a little skinny but he’s getting old and Tommy isn’t too worried. He makes a note on the board that hangs on one of the barn walls to up his feed.
By Molly’s name, Tommy leaves a note saying that the ewe doesn’t like the noise of the clippers. She’s hard to get trimmed up but, somehow, the boy manages – even if it isn’t the prettiest job.
Spring is a time of new starts. As wool scatters the ground of the old barn, Tommy knows that this is the truth. And this start…for himself and Molly…is a very good one.