Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Of Love & Lanolin

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Of Love & Lanolin



For the most part, yesterday was a rather lazy day. The weather kept us inside for most of the daylight hours, alternating between sloppy spring rain, kernels of hail, and tiny, mushy snowflakes. Shaena invited us to accompany her family to a farm on the outskirts of town to see some newborn lambs drink their dinner, and we decided to go on this outing. We met them and followed them down a country road to an ancient but beautifully-kept two-story farmhouse with caramel-colored wood siding, where Ruth, an operating room nurse, and her husband live. A pleasant, silver-haired woman with a disarming smile wearing red clogs appeared at the door and told Shaena she would mix up some milk and be right with us. A glossy black and white dog named Jiff bounded spasmodically towards us, much to the delight of Erik, who is a true dog lover. Erik's face was soon coated with slippery dog slobber. We approached the fence behind which a herd of sheep on an emerald expanse of brand new, rain-quenched grass stared at us. There was a warning sign on the fence announcing the presence of metal traps on the property. We were later told there was recently a bloodthirsty cougar on the loose here. When Ruth came back out of the house, she carried a two-liter plastic bottle full of milky lamb food with a large, black nipple on it. Upon our entry into the field, Jiff instantly began playfully harassing a beige-colored sheep, and Ruth explained the two of them had some sort of mysterious, ongoing feud. She led the six of us into a ancient, drafty barn. In the darkness we could hear animals snorting and baaing. We walked down a narrow aisle lined on one side with rough, low stalls, and as my eyes came into focus, I saw the outline of a fat ewe with a round, milk-heavy udder and a young lamb. We continued to the end of the dark aisle to where wintry light fell into the barn and hungry baby lambs stood waiting in a pen. The seven of us crammed ourselves into the pen with cameras in hand like ridiculous city slickers and watched Sammy and Erik react to the sheep. Sammy is now over a year old and was calmly fascinated by the sheep but stood close to either Andy or Shaena, content to just watch the animals drink from the bottle. Erik did the same, tentatively reaching his thick fingers out to stroke one lamb from time to time. When Ruth offered one lamb the bottle, the vigorous suction caused the rubber nipple to pop clean off the end of the bottle, sending liquid food out in a thick glurg all over my husband's denim-covered thigh. My husband, who grew up with goats and is quite comfortable in a farm setting, gracefully accepted Ruth's apology and joined us in our giggles. Ruth's husband, an instantly lovable and handsome curmudgeon in denim overalls, joined us in the barn, and we went back into the field to watch him feed the sheep there from a long trough and then down to where two midnight black steers waited for their dinner of alfalfa and grain. The wind had picked up by now, and the mountains were being overtaken by a grainy, white cloud that looked a lot like snow. The faint scent of snow infused the chilled air filling our lungs. Snot trailed rudely down Erik's face, and his hands became dusky purple in color. I blew on them to warm them, but he insisted on trying to cram his sheep-coated fingers into my mouth, so I ceased. I pulled his little jacket sleeves over his chubby hands. Shaena retrieved a blanket to wrap Sammy in. When we could no longer feel our faces, we decided to load back into our cars. We thanked Ruth and her husband, and we caravaned back up the hill to Shaena and Andy's house nestled in the sage and juniper. Shaena and I broke into a bucket of potent blue Hawaii cocktails she had in the freezer, and I watched Shaena make spaghetti dinner. Erik ate like a little lumberjack and after dinner played on the floor with Sammy. Shaena and I got a horrible case of the giggles because Sammy is quite obviously smitten with Erik, which he finds a little confusing and overwhelming at times. Even more humorous to me is the fact that my son, who has a syndrome that makes him hypersocial the majority of time, began politely but firmly scooting away on his bottom from Sammy to no avail. She followed him everywhere, providing him an endless supply of hugs and kisses all evening. At one point, she went to hug him, and her enthusiasm caused Erik to go over backwards, landing with Sammy on top of him, still hugging him firmly. It looked an awful lot like the love scene from the movie From Here to Eternity in miniature form. I grabbed my camera. Despite Erik's plight underneath a layer of adorable toddler-friend, he managed a feeble "CHEESE" when he saw my camera. It was the funniest thing I had seen all day. Shaena and I almost died laughing.

We came home on the late side for Erik, but he didn't complain. I could tell he had a great time. Out of all of the animals we saw yesterday, his favorite was the farm dog, Jiff. On the way home, I heard him say, "Bye-bye, Jiff." He was still saying this when he got up this morning.

Thank you, Andy, Shaena, and Sammy, for the fabulous evening. We love you and will do it again soon!

Next stop -- baby goats!

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7 Comments:

Blogger Kim, Grandma to Ava,ws said...

How fun! I grew up out in the country. I was about 12 years old when I took a job cleaning the the neigbors' house. As payment I was given a baby lamb. We kept him in an unused chicken coop. Every morning it was my job to feed him his bottle. I would tramp out there before daylight and snuggle with my hungry little charge, Frisky. I had put that memory to rest until your wonderful post! I am so glad Erik got to enjoy the sheep experience. There is truly nothing like it.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Shaena, Andy & Sammy said...

You are so very welcome. We had a great time. Yes, our daughter is quite smitten with Erik, but hey, who isn't? We are looking forward to the next outing for all of us. Sammy can say "Erik" now, although it sounds a bit like "Ik", but we know what she means.

We love you! Shaena, Andy and Sammy

12:58 PM  
Blogger kathi said...

First, I simply love the way you write. I wonder if you have any idea how talented you are.

Okay, loved the story and the pictures! I could visualize everything. I so appreciate the way you don't smother Erik, and over protect him. We have had so many parents come in with their kids in my kids life time, and when the kids would go towared an animal, which is and always has been plentiful in my home, the parents would yell or grab the kid, scaring them so much. I've never thought that was a good lesson. I've always taught my kids to never ever put your face in an animals face (unless they're giving you kisses, lol) but I'd never want to instill fear in them. You encourage Erik to live life, and I appreciate that in parenting. Trust me, I've known so many parents who instill their fears into their kids, and it's a shame.

Sorry, ran long.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Miss 1999 said...

How precious was that! I absolutely love farms! I bet Erik did just have a wonderful time watching the little sheep eating and playing in their home.

Sorry it was so cold for you guys. We had snow last friday, and again today! I just don't know what's up with all of this cold weather!

Anyway, thanks for sharing the wonderful pictures and memories of the outing with us! *Hugs*

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Aspen said...

What a great idea! I think Daven would love to visit a farm. But would end up hating it later. Poor little allergenic boy. The pictures are precious.

I want a blue Hawaii cocktail! Happy Monday.

9:06 AM  
Blogger THE PASLAY'S OF IDAHO said...

YOU ARE SOOOOOO LUCKY THAT BRAD DOESN'T ALWAYS DO WHAT HE "THINKS". BRAD THINKS THAT HIS NEPHEW NEEDS AND WOULD LOOOVE TO HAVE A DOG OF HIS VERY OWN! :)

PERHAPS WHEN WE GET OURS WE WILL GET ERIK ONE... PERHAPS FOR HIS THIRD BIRTHDAY? HEEHEEHEE

LOVE ALL THE PHOTOS AND YES WE COULD SEE THAT ERIK'S HANDS WERE TURNING PURPLE! BRAD SAYS IT IS SUCH A BOY THING TO BE OUTDOORS NO MATTER THE WEATHER CONDITIONS!

BIG HUGS TO ERIK FROM UNCLE BRAD!

7:28 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

What a fun day! We have gone to a sheep pasture here but haven't been in awhile. I always forget how muc the kids love that stuff. Ours has baby pigs and chickens too, so it can get quite noisy!

Next time I go I will definitely end my day with a Blue Hawaiian!!

2:23 PM  

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