On May 12 between 6 and 7 a.m., a feral wolf-dog killed Fern, one of our sheep, and her children. There was Fern and her only daughter Josie (who was four years old) and they each had a black baby lamb. Fern's little boy was Hermes and Josie's little guy was Zuess.
I had just brought the flock to their alternate pasture, which was so lush with long green grass blades, plenty of clover and, of course, Fern's favourite, tender ferns. This pasture had been their home for the past four years for the spring and summer season. In the past when I dropped off the sheep, Fern and Josie would always run to the fence and mah a good-bye, but not this time - they were so happy eating grass. I said goodbye, sleep nice and I will see you tomorrow.
The previous day was spent clearing brush that could snag wool, mending breaks in the fence and assuring myself the pasture was safe. Don't worry I kept telling myself, the wolf-dog is on the other side of the island. He hasn't killed any sheep, there are just too many deer to fill up on. As with the bear, I thought the wolf dog would be deep in the forest, in higher elevations, not in the backyards of people's homes in Tunstall Bay.
We got Fern in March of 2005 from Hornby Island. My daughter Willow had a handful of tender ferns to give to our wee lamb. Fern is her name, Willow said, as our lamb was munching away. When we got Fern home, we had a lovely barn waiting for her amongst the chickens. Fern was not happy sleeping alone in the barn so we made her a bed on the back deck. When she was still small, she always stayed by my side whilst I did the dishes (yes, in the house) and she never pooped or peed on the floor unless Robert came home early and shooed her out of the house. Willow and my son Dane would be screaming with laughter as their father would be chasing out the lamb in his suit and briefcase still in hand.
Every night before bed, we would leash up our dog Lola and Fern and go to Bowen Bay beach. Fern didn't like the ocean much, but loved walking in the sand. One of our funniest stories, and there are many with Fern, is when Fern decided she was going down to the beach on her own to play with the squealing children she could hear from her barn. Someone on the beach was very upset that Fern was there and called the bylaw officer. Chris Buchanan, doing his duty, came to the beach, picked up Fern and loaded her in the back of his car. We were not home by the time the dog shelter closed so Fern had to spend the night. But, I must say Fern never learned her lesson about taking herself to the beach and the neighbours just came to know her by name and would bring her back home.
Thank you to all who took care of Fern and our flock of sheep. Fern loved this community and all of the children. I know Fern will miss Lighting Up the Cove parade, being apart of the live nativity scene, the petting zoo at Bowfest, BICS community school and all her adventures at the school (she does apologize to Ellen MacIntosh for eating the heritage strawberry plants in the school garden), the Easter celebrations with the rec centre and her annual visit to Santa. She does thank Santa for her bag of sweet oats. Fern loved everybody, especially Pat Buchanan who took care of Fern when she was sick and took care of her and her family every year when we went home for Christmas and Joan and Piers at the Snug for all the porridge and vegy's. I would also like to thank Alastair Westcott, the vet, for taking care of Fern when she had pneumonia as a baby and her bad foot. She really was worth saving; she gave us the most incredible memories.
Fern and her flock will be so missed and our little farm will never be the same. Fern's one fleece gave us 25 pairs of socks; another year it gave us seat covers and I still have Josie's beautiful fleece. I would love to find a spinner who could spin her wool so that I may make a sweater for Willow and Dane from it.
Suzan, Robert, Willow and Dane are so grateful for the flowers, the cards, the pictures, the calls, the tears and the stories you have shared, it means a lot to us all and we know Fern and her flock know it also.