Try to picture this beautiful meadow in your mind. There are messy tufts of grass everywhere, lazy butterflies floating in the warm gentle breeze, and a thousand colorful wildflowers scattered like dandelion seeds. Mice live in the grass, along with many other small creatures. A beehive sits at the far corner of the pasture. Hundreds of bees spend all day long flying back and forth between the beehive and the flowers of the meadow. The bees collect nectar from the flowers. They will use the nectar to make honey, which they will then eat during the long, cold winter.

There is an old-fashioned pasture fence in the meadow as well. It runs right down the center of the meadow, cutting the field into two equal parts. It is made of thick wooden posts and connecting wooden slats held together by large ****l pegs. A pair of small finches live inside one of the posts, in a snug hole which they have lined with hay and soft down.

The fence was built by a traveling band of men and women who build fences like this all over the world. They came one day, and pitched a few tents in the meadow while they worked. They pounded the posts into the ground with big, heavy mallets, and then used the mallets to pound the ****l pegs into the posts. They are very good fence builders, and so the fence will last a long time. If no one disturbs the fence, it may last for 100 years or more. The night that they built the fence, they sat around a campfire. By the flickering light of the fire, they told stories about the places they'd seen and the people they'd met. They were a very happy group of people.

The campfire left a big scorched patch of black earth on the ground, but within a year or so, fresh grass and wildflowers had sprung up, and now it looks just like the rest of the meadow.

Far beyond the meadow, you can see two tall mountains standing side by side. They are dark and frightening. When storms come, the lightning and rain seem to bounce off of the mountaintops. Echoing booms of thunder roll down the mountain peaks, filling the narrow valley between them.

Today there are no storms, but the mountains still cast deep and imposing shadows over the valley. It is from this valley that the sheep have come. They are arriving in the meadow, one after another, sometimes in small groups of three or four.

One, two, three, four,
Five, six, seven, more,
Eight, nine, ten, then,




More, more, again, again

The sheep are tired and dirty from their long walk from the valley, and the troubles they have encountered there. They have no shepherd with them. Perhaps he stayed behind, trying to hold off one of the many dangers of the valley, or perhaps there was never a shepherd at all.

The first sheep in the long, long line of sheep approaches the fence slowly. He is unsteady on his feet, and is only half as tall as the fence itself. He can see through the fence, and the grass from the far side seems to call to him. He wants to be on the other side. It seems like he could never jump over such a tall fence. With the slightest flick of his four hoofed feet, he sails into the air. He clears the fence easily, as if he is a big ball of wool that has been bounced over the fence. He begins eating a clean, sweet patch of clover on the far side of the fence. He is happy.

The second sheep to enter the meadow approaches the fence in the same manner as the first. He, too is tired and hungry and wants to put the trials of the valley far behind him. He also bounces over lightly, and lands happily on the far side. One by one, the sheep all approach the fence in their ragged single file line.

How many jump over the fence? How many leave the dark valley far behind them and start to enjoy the warm grass, the sunshine, and the gentle breeze of the meadow?

One, two, three, four,
Five, six, seven, more,
Eight, nine, ten, then,
More, more, again, again

One, two, three, four,
Five, six, seven, more,
Eight, nine, ten, then,
More, more, again, again,




THE END