This poem came out of the June 20, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from janetmiles. It has been sponsored by rix_scaedu. This poem belongs to the series Hart's Farm.
Vendel tends the sheep
with a soft voice and a sharp eye.
The shaggy Gutefår with their varied wool
and their fierce curling horns
are safe to let run in the forest, and need no barn.
The Dala pälsfår have finer white wool
and less common sense,
so must be watched more carefully.
Vendel brings the boys with him
when he goes to work with the sheep.
Sindri is blond and blue-eyed like Vendel himself,
and it has been almost fifteen years since
someone left him at the farm and Vendel claimed him.
Thorsten is dark, his hair and eyes almost black;
his parents live here on the farm but he is
fourteen now and growing away from them, wanting
to be with someone who sees him as a young man
instead of a gangling wayward child.
They are not sons of his body,
but he loves them no less for it.
Sindri and Thorsten look to Vendel
for guidance in growing into their manhood.
They are close as brothers to each other,
rarely apart except when work requires it.
Quiet Thorsten cherishes the Dala pälsfår.
He coaxes them out of their pen in the barn
and helps Vendel decide which of the high meadows
to choose for their grazing today.
Nothing will bother the flock under his watch.
Wild Sindri loves the Gutefår best.
Leaving Thorsten and the white sheep in the meadow,
Sindri follows Vendel up the slopes where the birch trees thicken.
It has only been ten years since Hart's Farm acquired
this stretch of land, adding to the generous spread of acreage.
Here the forest sheep move through the shadows,
coats of dark gray and brown, splotches of white
appearing and disappearing between the trees.
Vendel and Sindri count them, catch a few
to make sure they are healthy, then leave them alone.
Vendel is grateful for the sheep
that provide meat for the farm,
fine wool for sweaters from the Dala pälsfår
and coarse wool for carpets from the Gutefår.
But most of all he is grateful to these animals
for teaching the sons of his heart
how to be gentle.
* * *
The original prompt featured the BETTER Sheep Farms programme.
Dala pälsfår or Swedish Dala Fur Sheep descend from an old landrace breed.