Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Billy and the Lamb

At far left is Tressa, the aunt who, as an adult, related the following story to me.

At near left is Billy, the boy in the story, probably at about the age when the lamb was at the farm.

My father once told the story of a lamb who lived on the farm in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, where he grew up.  When the lamb grew larger, it began to butt the children in the neighborhood while they waited for the bus.  (I question my memory: were there school buses to take rural Stoneboro children to school in mid-1920s?)  However it was, he talked about this half-grown sheep butting the children.

I was interested in this story and so asked Aunt Tressa, Dad's half sister who grew up with him on the farm, if she remembered the lamb.  This is the story she told me.
The White family lived in our neighborhood.  They raised sheep.  The lambs were born early in the spring.  A mother died – leaving her little lamb an orphan.  Mr. White asked if we wanted to raise it.  Of course, we did.  Baby lambs are so soft and frisky – especially if they are “boy lambs.”

We named our lamb Sambo and fed him warm milk from a bottle and nipple.  He was very playful.  Bill was quite young at this time.  He loved Sambo and would hold his little fat hand up so Sambo would back up then make a run for Bill’s hand to “bunt it.”

This was great fun until Sambo was about half grown.  His playing took on a different nature.  When he saw Bill in the yard he would attack him from the back.  He would put his head down, while running toward Bill, and would knock him down.  We all enjoyed watching Sambo attack Bill until Sambo became big enough to hurt him.  That is when we gave him back to White’s so Sambo could join his own family of sheep.
I've never had a lamb but I can imagine how much fun it would be and how frisky, soft, and cuddly it could be.  I didn't have the photograph of Bill when I first heard this story but could easily imagine Bill's "little fat hand" in front of the lamb and how much fun it was for both Bill and the rest of the family to see the lamb interact with Bill and the other children.  I can also imagine how terrifying it could have been to see a child have the wind knocked out of him by a partly-grown lamb running, head down, to butt him.

I was grateful to hear the story from another person and hear additional memories.

Do you have "animal stories" from your family?


  1. Oh Nancy - what memories! Our family took on orphaned lambs from the farm next door with the proviso from my father that we looked after them ourselves. We fed them warm milk every 4 hours from old Coke bottles and they became as tame as cats or dogs. They grew well out on grass in the summer and in the winter we chopped turnips for them in the freezing cold before going to school. Inevitably, the sad day came when it was time for them "to go". They were real characters and loved the "headbutting game" when your back was turned, which wasn't so funny when they were full grown :-)


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