Lamb rock. Solid sand stone, white weather worn, relatively square, maybe two feet on a side, about fourteen inches high. It’s near the foot of a short slope, about twenty five yards below Big House, easily seen from kitchen door.
Flat on top, a great seat for a small boy reading or simply contemplating. I generally preferred more secluded places where Pap couldn’t see me doing nothing (reading for pleasure was pretty much doing nothing to him). The back yard had a woven wire fence top of slope. A small boy sized hole in that fence provided direct access between house and barn lot where rock lay.
That lot, close to both house and barn was first freedom for mother ewes with young lambs. Instead of turning them loose with entire flock to roam far and wide over river bottom pasture, Pap wanted them up close where health problems might be spotted more easily. Most of the lot was within shooting range where firearms and farm dogs could protect babies from predators.
Lambs grew nimble on their feet and gained speed fast. Small flocks of lambs formed like groups of friends on a school yard. Those flocks raced and played together, running , hopping, “buck jumping” doing everything except summersaults. Butting heads in mock fights occupied much of their time together.
King of the mountain. One lamb, maybe two, not always largest or strongest hopped atop the lamb rock. They’d take on all comers, butting bumping, “looking mean”, daring another to try to knock them off. I remember playing similar games with other boys on Wardensville’s rail yard school ground. No signal given, the flock would leave the rock and go romping off at a dead run to wherever their fancy guided them. Wait a few moments, they’d race back and fastest lamb jumped up on the rock. Running too fast, he might skid across and nosedive into grass on far side.
Lambs grew fast, didn’t play at the rock long. By the time twin lambs were big enough to lift their mothers hind quarters off the ground when nursing, they were through playing on the rock and became more interested in transition from milk to grass.
Pap said lamb rock was corner stone of a farm building which stood there. He never talked about its use. I’d guess it was unused or gone by the time he was old enough to care about such things. An indentation in the ground nearby was where farm smoke house stood. He remembered his mother and grandmother keeping, curing and cutting hog meat there .
My decrepit metal detector found numerous bits of rusty iron vicinity of the smoke house, likely parts of the structure. Lamb rock building site yielded hands full of zinc canning jar lids, mostly cracked or broken, all inner white glass tops broken out.
I’ve wondered why the jar lids down that steep hill. Did my ancestors store canned food there which perhaps froze and burst and left lids lying? Why traipse that hill with a perfectly good stone walled storage cellar directly under Big House kitchen?
I suppose I’ll never solve the mystery of my lamb rock building. Nobody left living to ask anymore. If Pap didn’t know and he was youngest in his generation to be born and raised here, then that leaves Sis and me the last and we don’t know.
I may not know, but I’m leaving the distinctive lamb rock for future generations to wonder about. A couple weekends ago, friend Mary Wicks and I worked over that slope with tractor and front end loader gathering loose surface rocks and winter trash which might impede summer pasture clipping. Lamb rock got a wide berth and nary a scratch.