The Story of Rose: A border collie and a newborn lamb in a blizzard.

Stories from the farm.
Aug. 2 2012 12:05 PM

The Story of Rose

A border collie and a newborn lamb in a blizzard.

(Continued from Page 3)

Rose was already gone, back up the hill. I ran through the snow to find her, and at first I couldn’t, but then, about 20 yards from where we had found the ewe, she was sitting over a small figure covered in snow. Ice was forming on her head.

Like a ship out at sea in a sudden fog, the farmhouse and its lights had vanished in the snow, as if all of the life in the world had been blown away.

I set down the light and picked up the lamb. It was just us.

Rose chasing her Imaginary Squirrel. Every day for six years, she stopped at that tree to look for a squirrel she saw on her first day at the farm. He did not return. She did not stop looking.
Rose chases an imaginary squirrel. She stopped at the tree daily to look for the squirrel she saw on her first day at the farm. The squirrel did not return.

Photograph by Jon Katz.

Advertisement

I held the lamb in my lap, and it was then that I realized that this one was gone.

I was surprised, shaken, and numb, feeling so many things out there in that snowy pasture. Rose and I sat quietly over the dead body, this lamb that was our responsibility. Just a few minutes ago I had been asleep in bed. It was hard to get my bearings in that field, on that night.

Rose, too, I think, was uncharacteristically thrown off balance. She was not so sure about the world now. She had never seen a dead sheep before, never seen something in her charge die, nor had I. It was an awful feeling, not so much of grief, but of failure and sadness. I should have known, should have been better prepared, should have avoided this.

That night, on that hill, Rose and I did not yet know much about farms, about animals, about the nature of life. Rose, who kept a census of all things on the farm, was utterly professional and dispassionate about it that night. But it was not the same after that. Our world had changed.

I left Rose alone to sit up on the hill with the lamb for as long as she wished. Even then, I had this instinct to let Rose work things out, to see her amazing ability to process things and move forward, something I have struggled almost all of my life to learn how to do.

I came down to the barn to make sure my first lamb was healthy, which thankfully it was. A little later, I went to the rear of the barn, surprised that Rose had not come down yet to check on things.

The barn floodlight was on, and I turned the flashlight on the dark hill. There was Rose lying down next to the dead lamb, and looking down at the barn, at me.

Excerpted from The Story of Rose by Jon Katz. Copyright  2012 by Jon Katz. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Jon Katz’s latest book, Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die, was published by Random House last October. You can visit him at www.bedlamfarm.com and http://www.facebook.com/BedlamFarm or email him at jon@bedlamfarm.com.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 PM The Phone Call Is Twenty Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.