Harold was a shepherd. He had so many sheep that most of them were called by the color and number of their ear tag…Green 24 for example. But Dolly was different. Harold had bottle-fed her as a lamb. So he was thrilled to learn that Dolly would soon have a lamb of her own.
One snowy March night, Dolly’s lamb was ready to be born. By morning, Harold had to shovel through high drifting snow just to get to the barn. He found Dolly lying on her side, barely breathing.
Harold scuttled into action. Crash! Clang! Buckets, bowls, twine and scissors landed next to the still-silent Dolly. Harold hurried to the house to fetch some hot water, but he slipped on a patch of ice and landed hard, spraining his wrist.
Harold’s wife tended his wrist, then snatched the steaming tea kettle, and set out to help Dolly. Twenty minutes later she shrieked with joy when a healthy lamb plopped into the straw beside her. It should not come as a surprise that Harold’s wife named the lamb Calamity, for his birth was almost that.
The lamb made such a ruckus, wiggling, squirming, and kicking against his mother, that Dolly opened her eyes, and despite her pain, began licking him all over. The more she licked, the more he squirmed. The more he squirmed, the more life returned to Dolly.
But Calamity Lamb’s birth was, of course, only the beginning.
Each morning before dawn Calamity was the first to awaken. His bleating shattered the peaceful sounds of dozing critters. Old Joe twisted his big donkey ears this way and that, braying loud complaints. “Calm down, Calamity! You’ll wake up the sun.”
Calamity was soon romping, scampering, and frolicking in the meadow with the other lambs. Dolly gave up trying to keep track of him, but Jenny, the border collie, was often seen nipping at his heels. “Calm down, Calamity! Give the poor butterflies, and me, a break.”
One morning Harold led the sheep up the steep hillside. They followed single-file, snaking back and forth as they climbed. Jenny herded and Joe guarded the flock from behind. But things were moving too slowly for Calamity. He began shuffling and kicking at the pebbles along the path. “Calm down, Calamity!” bellowed a ram from below. “It’s raining rocks down here!”
Sheep already lined the banks of the stream that gurgled through the high pasture. Breaking free at last, Calamity ran lickety-split. He leapt into the middle of the stream with a splash, showering the astonished group. Rising, he slipped and stumbled on the stones, dousing them some more. “Calm down, Calamity!” they chorused. “We’re soaked, and you’ve muddied our drinking water!”
“You’re annoying, Calamity!” huffed Yellow 31.
“What a muttonhead!” Red 29 hollered.
Green 15 chimed in. “Calamity is a perfect name for you.”
Calamity stared into each angry face.
“Hyper-active –that’s what he is.” Orange 18 griped.
“I think he’s just plain b-a-a-a-a-ad!”
Calamity’s wooly head drooped as he trudged out of the water. The rest of the flock continued to murmur and complain about his antics among themselves. Calamity stayed as far away from them as Jenny and Joe allowed for the rest of the day.
Late in the afternoon Harold and Jenny rounded up the flock. “I’ll be choosing one of the younger sheep to lead us down the hillside today,” Harold announced.
“Ooh! pick me, pick me!” Green 8 called.
“Me! Over here. I’m the best!” Blue 4 shouted.
“Baa! Baa! Baa!” The lambs surrounded Harold and bounced up and down…all of them, that is, except for Calamity. Calamity still stood silent and downcast a good distance from the others.
“I need someone with a lot of energy…someone who will keep up a quick pace.” Harold strode toward the back of the flock. “…someone like Calamity Lamb.”
Calamity looked up and saw the loving eyes of the shepherd gazing down at him. “Me? I get to lead the flock? Woo-hoo!” squealed Calamity, and he jumped, clicking his hooves together high in the air before landing in a somersault.
Harold’s laugh was even warmer than the last rays of afternoon sunshine.
Calamity Lamb kept a fine pace as he led the entire flock safely down the hillside. He was careful not to kick any pebbles or ruffle any fleece. He walked with confidence, his head held high, as he followed in his shepherd’s footprints. And, for the first time in his life, Calamity Lamb was calm.
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