Daddy showed us all a thing or two about sooth­ing fraz­zled farm an­i­mals.

Country - - CONTENTS - BY CRAIG WETZEL East Liver­pool, Ohio

My fa­ther al­ways said I just didn’t ap­ply my­self. I did, just not how he wanted. We were dirt poor, so Daddy prob­a­bly didn’t ap­ply him­self ei­ther—at least not the way Momma wanted. The Grit­stones, a mighty fam­ily, lived be­hind the church and had a sheep pen in the rear with six or seven head. Now, older folks might see the Grit­stones’ laun­dry on a line and think noth­ing of it. Young folks are dif­fer­ent. I saw the clothes hang­ing there and the sheep rest­ing com­fort­ably nearby, and I thought it would be aw­ful funny to see those sheep dressed for church. If that isn’t ap­ply­ing my­self, then I don’t know what is. What hap­pened? Well, ev­ery­body said it was a good one, and I fig­ured I’d ride it for some time. Even Daddy said it wasn’t a bad joke, only ornery. Mr. Grit­stone didn’t laugh, though. Was he an­gry! “Did you know that sheep’s men­tal health af­fects the qual­ity of their wool?” he asked. I didn’t, un­til Mr. Grit­stone ex­plained it to me af­ter church. “Do you know how much this will cost me?” he hollered at me. I shook my head, pretty scared. “Happy sheep pro­duce warm wool,” he said. “Fraz­zled, wor­ried sheep pro­duce in­fe­rior wool. I don’t need to ex­plain the con­se­quence.” Ac­tu­ally, he did, and I told him so. “For ev­ery fraz­zled sheep, a lit­tle or­phan girl will have cold fin­gers and a lit­tle boy will have a cold head,” Mr. Grit­stone said. “This is un­ac­cept­able. Your fa­ther will pay for your ac­tions.” Well, my folks hardly had money to fill the din­ner plates, much less pay for fraz­zled live­stock. That night, Daddy vis­ited the pen to see if he could soothe the sheep. Now, Daddy played the folk harp al­most all day—he never worked. He fig­ured mu­sic would do the trick to calm the sheep, so he sang and played to them most of the night. And not only did the sheep re­cover, but they thrived. Mr. Grit­stone said he woke the next morn­ing to laugh­ing baas. Come shear­ing, he never had such qual­ity wool. Daddy was lazy, but he re­al­ized he had a gift. He hung out his shin­gle as a “live­stock ther­a­pist,” play­ing that harp for all kinds of stock, even ducks and geese. And for as long as he lived, folks never heard a sad moo, a de­spon­dent neigh or a melan­choly quack, and Daddy was get­ting paid to do what he’d al­ways done for noth­ing. You see, in the end it was Daddy who learned to ap­ply him­self. Me? I’d been do­ing it all along.

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