Today I would like to share with you the story of Leone. He was a little lamb that lost his herd on the street and thus wandered into our lives while we were driving back from a visit to the hot springs in Fordongianus. We had to drive a friend to the train station so we couldn’t do much else but bring him along, knowing full well that he wouldn’t survive long alone on the street. The people in Sardegna do love to eat lamb.
So along he came with us and after we dropped off our friend we went back to his village to find the shepherd and his herd. Once we located the man and reunited him with his lost lamb he told us that actually we could have him if we wanted. The little guy was already sick, he got rejected by his mother on account of being the weaker part of a twin, and he was a male, which means he would end up on the dinner table soon enough. So we decided to bring him home and see if we could make him better and find him a new home.
We took the sad little lamb home and named him Leone. We hoped he would find his strength back and become a beautiful grown ram. The dogs took him in soon enough, the cat kept his distance though. Leone was a bit confused in the beginning but adopted his new family quite happily. We bottle fed him fresh sheep milk, he slept cuddled up with our dogs and we got him antibiotics to help him fight his illness. He followed us around to the garden, in the village, in the house. Actually he followed everywhere as lambs tend to do. He wasn’t very active, he didn’t seem to like to feed but after the first week we felt he was doing better and we had our hopes up high that he would make it.
Sadly, after the second week he started to do worse again. He ate less and less. Slept more and more. And although there were many people who gave him lots of love, care and attention, we could see that he was slipping away from us. Slowly Leone turned inward and started his last journey of his short life. We saw him go, stayed with him for as long as time allowed us and eventually had to say our goodbyes to him. It was a sad moment and although we know we did everything we could, and these things happen, we felt sorry for him.
For some people the next part of (t)his story is more difficult to digest. Which is why I find it important to share. After Leone died and we said our goodbyes, and had all the people who loved him say their goodbyes, we buried him in our garden. But not before we took his skin. This is something that I probably wouldn’t have considered when I was still living in Amsterdam, but since I moved to this rural village and started to live more connected to nature, it seemed like the natural thing to do. We give and we take. Nature is about balance; not taking more than you need and giving back enough not to upset the ecosystem. We do not like to throw away parts of an animal that we use anyway, we like to be involved in the whole proces. It seems only fair to me that if we want to use leather or sheepskins, we are able to care for the animals ourselves, and to do the dirty work too. (Although skinning an animal is actually not a dirty work).
Sweet little Leone, you made an everlasting impression on us. We thank you for being there. And we thank you for your skin.