I get such a kick out of Poppy, the old Suffolk ewe. On those days when the goats are cantankerous, Poppy can always make me smile and soothe my ruffled attitude. Her arthritis is getting bad and there are some mornings when it takes her awhile to work out the kinks in her knees. She shuffles and limps her way out of her room and into the sunshine (she likes sunshine but isn't fazed by rain). Like The Little Engine That Could, once she gets going there's no stopping her on her way up to the alfalfa. It just takes her a little longer these days. In fact, if she makes up her mind to go anywhere, she's so determined it takes great strength to turn her in another direction. Every now and again Poppy gets a runny nose. She burbles along, blowing what Kathy V. calls snot-rockets. It might be allergies, because it never lasts long and, as for the rest of us, it seems to come on when the oak pollen flies. Poppy has a pretty good sense of timing. I don't know if she counts how many goats go in and come out of the milking room, or if she listens to the banging of the buckets, but she shows up down at the barn about the time I'm finishing chores. She knows the difference between the bucket I use to haul out poop from the stalls and the one I bring in grain for the next day. I look for her black snoot poking out as she lurks around the corner, peeking to see if I've got "her" bucket. If it's the right one, she comes to stand at the door, waiting for her handout; make that three handouts. She gets three and no more. Sometimes Sheila wants to get in on the act. That's the only time Poppy gets cranky and throws her head around. "You've already had yours!" Sheila backs off. For the longest time, Poppy did not want to be touched. As she's aged, she now seems to enjoy having her oh-so-soft head rubbed, and I take advantage of every opportunity.
Poppy is already past the published "expiration date" for Suffolks. Driving past or walking down to the pen, I always count noses, making sure all my girls are up and on their feet. I know one day she won't get up, but I don't think I'll ever stop looking for Poppy 'round the corner.