Another day short staffed, and even shorter on story ideas has landed me in the tiny town of Penrose, Colorado. After a quick stop at Happy Apple Farms, I'm now surrounded by dozens of Jacob's sheep... which I must admit, look a lot more like goats then sheep.
So I'm out of my element, and a little on edge... which began as soon as the road went from pavement to dirt. I've pulled in to a compound of houses and out-buildings that are holding animals I've never heard of, let alone seen. A plump woman wearing a mickey mouse shirt is waving exictedly in my direction. A quick breath of stale car air later and I'm inhaling the sweet smell of country.
I climb out of the truck, grab my gear...and of course, put a smile on my face. Yvonne is friendly, excited, and a bit eccentric. She has pictures to show me, bags full of sheep wool, and wool blankets straight off the press. I don't have time to cringe at the skull she has had bleached that is sitting in the front seat of her car because my hand is already being plunged into the bag of wool...and no, it hasnt been cleaned. We haven't even started the interview, and I'm already ready to wash my hands and call it a day!
I sheepishly (haha, get it!) follow her back toward the pens and can't help but stare at the odd configuration of horns on these animals. It is definitely a sight to see. Some have two, others four...but the most interesting have six horns situated oddly on their tiny head. They are bahhing like it's their job...and chewing like they've got nothing else to do. I mic up Yvonne and start fumbling my way through questions. Interviews are always hard when you know absolutely nothing about the topic that you are covering. How do you ask insightful questions about an animal when you can't even tell what it is? Luckily my interview is eager to share her vast knowledge on the topic of sheep...and I don't have to do much work. I'm sure I should have been a bit embaressed about some of the things that came out of my mouth...but I was so cluelessly uneducated on the topic that I didn't even know if I should be sticking my foot in my mouth.
After my interview I'm blessed with an individual tour of the pens... not fun! First of all, it smells...bad. Like sheep. Secondly they don't stand still. They are so obnoxiously scared of every movement that either they are running around like a chicken with their head cut off, or standing facing the corner of the pen avoiding all types of eye contact. I can't stand these things! I'm done shooting video after the first pen, but Yvonne insists on not only showing me the pen of babies, but also the large pen where the females are kept. She has names for all of them...Blue, Mickey... the list goes on and on. I don't think that I would even name my children if I had that many, but hey, to each their own! She talks to them like babies, coaxing them out of the corner, and trying her best to stay in control. I hang in the corner... trying not to smirk. I am so obviously a city girl.
I get over my initial fear of the obnoxiously large horns and eventually find myself petting one female that has lodged herself in the corner between me and the fence. That's when Yvonne informs me that she bottle fed that particular sheep...and thinks the sheep likes people better then her own kin. Once again, the smirk is swallowed.
Thankfully my extended tour eventually ends, and I lead the way back to my car. It's hard to hide my excitement about the possibility of entering urban society once again. I smell like farm, and sweat. My hands are oily from the wool and my camera dirty from the...well, the dirt. As I pull out of the driveway I lift my hand for a brief wave through the rearview mirror... so long Penrose!