Wednesday, December 8, 2010

every animal counts

I have a great story for you today. Marieta told me my first night here while we had a drink together. I was laughing so hard I almost spit out my wine.

Every animal counts at Harnas--not just the exotic or cuddly. First, keep that in mind.

Marieta's granddaughter (who ADORES animals as well), Nica, is--as Marieta puts it--the "true farmer" in the family. She especially loves goats and sheep, so when there were two orphaned babies, one of each, Marieta gave them to 7-year-old Nica to raise. Now Nica lives in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, most of the time and then comes to Harnas during school vacations. So when it was time to send Nica back to the city, Marieta put the two animals in the transport with her and sent them home, too.

Nica's mother Melanie called back a bit peeved--as you can imagine: "What do you think you're doing sending a sheep and goat to my house!" Marieta explained that Nica loved the babies and she couldn't separate them. "Well, they can't stay here," Melanie said, "I'm sending them back. They make too much noise 'baaaaa-ing' all the time."

A few days later, though, she called back to say that Nica had actually trained them not to say "BAAAA" but whisper "baaa." And she said maybe they could stay--that she was, in fact, falling in love a little with them. A few days later, though, she called back: "I'm sending them back to Harnas. My daughter was sleeping with them in her bed!"

So Marieta got the sheep and goat back, but she couldn't bring herself to put them out in the pen. After all, these animals had lived with a roof over their heads and they wouldn't know what to do outside. Besides, she didn't want Nica to think she wasn't supporting her--that she wasn't respecting her choice of pet.

So the sheep and goat began to live in Marieta's house. At night they slept in Marieta's bedroom with her--along with 4 dogs, 2 baby baboons, and sometimes baby springboks or kudus. First, the sheep wanted to sleep in the bed, but Marieta eventually taught him to sleep in a bed she made for him at the bottom of her bed.

And I know you're wondering about the poop and pee. Well, hold on now--like the baby baboons, the goat and sheep wore diapers, but they were so big by then that she sent her daughter-in-law Jo to Gobabis (nearest town) to buy adult size diapers. The sheep also sucked on a pacifier all night--no joke. So there they all were: At night Marieta would put diapers of all sizes on animals of all sizes, and they would all sleep together. Marieta said the sheep became quite attached to her. If Marieta needed to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, the sheep came with her, watched her, and then returned to bed with her.

On Sundays, the goat and sheep followed Marieta to the little church that is here on Harnas. They'd sleep during the service and then follow her home.

But eventually something was bound to happen--the poop that the sheep was making began to smell really bad, and when Marieta would take off the diaper in the morning, the sheep would wag his little tail and poop would fly all over. "ENOUGH!" said Marieta.

But she still couldn't bear to put them out in the elements--rain, heat, dark--so she had the Bushmen make a home for them, bigger than a dog house, with a roof, windows, and plenty of blankets to sleep on. Out they went--finally.

But when Nica goes out and calls them--as she did for me so I could get their pictures, they come running just like dogs.

Only at Harnas.

Okay, I give up. I've tried for 30 minutes to upload a picture of the sheep. You'll just have to imagine!

1 comment:

  1. That is too funny reminds me of my sheep I had growing up I had a bottle baby that I had to feed every couple of hours so I put a diaper on her and she lived inside the house and slept in my room. I raised Suffolk .