By Baxter Black, DVM
The pastor was making a point Sunday morning. He said, “Even God’s dumbest creatures can be useful.”
I tried not to take it personally. However, if he’d seen my grade transcript from vet school, I would certainly qualify for half of it!
But, he was talking about sheep. Most people would agree that sheep are useful. It has always baffled me why all the “All Natural, Organic, EcoGreen” contingent turns a blind eye to the ewe. We make a hollow noise cheering on experimental energy sources; electric cars, and windmill arrays. But how can purists buy brand-name jackets that tout polyester, nylon and elastane ripstock as their ingredients? Does that sound green to you?
Maybe they are persuaded by the claim of “A soft fleece backing that has natural moisture-wicking properties?” Does that mean sheep’s wool is really involved? Nope, their definition of “Fleece” is a ‘soft napped insulating synthetic wool.’ Oh…synthetic wool.
God gave us sheep to eat and insulate us. If you were condemned to live on a deserted island like Ireland for 5 years and were allowed to have only one species of animal, which would you pick? Fish? A horse? A pack of dogs? A litter of kittens? Cows? Bears? Pigs? Alligators, Possum, Goats, Parrots? There’s a case for the horse as transportation, but it would be like being married to a high-maintenance wife. Something would always be wrong. Cows are equal to sheep in IQ and their SAT scores, but they are bulky and hard to handle. There is nothing fun about chasing
Pigs are smarter which gives them an advantage over sheep if you’re playing checkers but since when has intelligence been an advantage when you are going to eat them? It’s also a disadvantage if you’re trying to make them follow.
Dogs can be good company and, when you get down to it, they can eat each other. I know, some cultures eat dogs but on a small island it might be hard to eat your friend. On the down side, how would you like to live in a world that smelled like a kennel?
I don’t know if I could survive 5 years on nothing but chicken. There are people who have done that but they are from Arkansas and are used to guinea hens, condors and possum. But there would always be the advantage if an alligator, rattlesnake or squirrel somehow invaded your island, you would still be able to say, “Everything here tastes like chicken.”
Granted, one might make a case for llama, possibly, or rabbits. But to insure your survival it’s hard to beat sheep as a source of bedding, clothing, leather, meat, disposition, ear plugs, padding, reproduction, milk, and some might say beauty and companionship. AND, to top it off they’ll eat anything!
To accomplish this recognition of sheep as the world’s best all natural, edible, cuddly, wearable, rideable, milkable, recyclable species on Earth, one that is dumb but useful, we must first educate an urban community who believe that meat comes in a plastic wrapper, milk comes in bottles, fur is faux, and fleece is really a ‘soft napped insulating synthetic wool’. Like Astroturf, I guess.