The rain had dried up –
every drip, every puddle –
but Hillie couldn't go out
while her room was a muddle.
Mom had been clear, and
her dad had agreed,
"First, clean up ... [+]
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"Baa, baa, baaaaa" bleated Sally. "Life on the Renaud farm is blah, blah, blaaaah," she complained. "Nothing ever changes. Same sheep. Same hill. Same rocks... WHOOPS!"
The stone beneath Sally's hoof teetered, then tottered, then turned entirely over, pitching her down the wet, mucky hillside.
"You've got a grass stain! You've got a grass stain!" laughed the flock.
Sally peered at the large green spot on her fluffy rump. "I LIKE it!" she said.
The other sheep compared Sally's green splotch with their own plain wool. Then one sheep, and another, and another, and finally the entire flock, slid, tumbled and belly flopped down the hill.
At the bottom, they admired their new look.
"That's better!" said Sally.
The afternoon heat made Sally and the flock thirsty, so the sheep trotted to the stream for a drink. Sally splashed through a puddle. Red brown mud dotted her legs and sides.
"I LIKE it!" she said.
All of the sheep joined her, splattering mud on their tummies, ears and ankles.
"We look magnificent!" said Sally.
Every day the flock searched for more color. They flopped in a field of dandelions. They tossed wild strawberries at each another (and ate a few). They rubbed against tree trunks and lichen and moss. And rolled among leaves and brambles and mushrooms.
One night, the sheep even snuck through a hole in the fence and trotted into town to explore the dumpster behind the tart shop. Broken bits of black current pastry made the most delicious purple.
On the way home, Sally and the flock met Farmer Renaud and his wife.
"Uh oooooooh," said Sally.
Mrs. Renaud flicked the beam of her flashlight over purple muzzles and green rumps, yellow tummies and brown spotted legs.
"Sheep shearing time, Mr. Renaud?" asked Mrs. Renaud.
"Oh yes," replied Farmer Renaud.
The next morning Mr. Renaud clipped off Sally's fleece. Snip. Snip. Snip.
Beside him, Mrs. Renaud sheared another sheep. Clip. Clip. Clip.
The pile of fleece spotted green and red and amber and blue grew higher and higher as Mr. and Mrs. Renaud sheared one sheep after another.
Without their heavy coats, Sally and the flock felt as light as air. They leaped, skipped and frisked, as lively as spring lambs.
At day's end, Mr. and Mrs. Renaud looked at the mountain of clipped fleeces. "What do you think?" the farmer asked his wife.
"I think the sweaters I knit this year will be my best ever," she said with a smile, imagining the swirling kaleidoscope of yarn she could spin from rainbow-colored wool.
At summer's end when the sheep's wool grew thick and fluffy again, Mr. and Mrs. Renaud carried pails of over-ripe tomatoes to where the flock grazed.
"Who wants to play a little game?" asked Mr. Renaud, lifting up a tomato to throw.
"The one with the most red spots wins!" said Mrs. Renaud, lifting another.
"I LIKE it!" baaahed Sally.