Posted by: patwogan | August 23, 2008

My First Business Venture

The lambs that Mr. Bullock gave me to try to take the place of Patsy were the vehicle of my first money-making venture.

I faithfully fed them and cared for them until the new wore off of having lambs for pets.  After that, I now know the major portion of their care fell to my mother.  She even put them in the oven with the pilot light lit one night when it was so cold outside they would have frozen to death had we left them in their shed.  I know that probably sounds “gross” to some of you readers, but if you have lived on a farm, you understand.

One of the saddest things to me was that their tails had to be docked.  Docked is an euphemism for cut off.  Lambs have to have their tails chopped off because fat will accumulate in their tails and money will be deducted when they are sold.  I was told they don’t have any nerves in their tails and it doesn’t hurt them.  I still don’t know whether this is true or not.  This is another fact of life known by people who live on farms.  Everything isn’t always sweetness and light.  I did know when the lambs grew up they would be sold and I would get the money.  I did not know what happened to grown-up lambs after they were sold, thank goodness.

I was very possessive of the lambs when it came to my little four-year-old brother.  They were mine.  After all, they had been given to me. 

World War II was going on at this time and my mother’s little brother was in the Navy.  He came to visit us one time during that spring.  I loved Uncle Jack.  He was a big boisterous young man who filled a room with his presence.  He didn’t visit very often nor did he stay very long, but his visits were always memorable.  On this particular visit, he was the instrument of a very good lesson for me.  When he left, he gave my brother and me a dollar.  Now, a dollar doesn’t sound like much today, but then it seemed like a fortune.

I coveted by brother’s dollar and tried to figure how it could become mine.  Finally, I hit on a solution.  I would sell him half interest in my lambs for his dollar.  I pitched this plan to him and pointed out to him that he could then feed and play with my lambs.  They would be half his.  I really did a great job of selling and it culminated with his handing over his dollar to me.  When Mom found out about this, she wasn’t really happy, but she didn’t interfere and let the deal take place.  My brother was happy and I was happy.  He could play with the lambs and I could count my money.

Time went by and it came time to sell the lambs.  By now, they weren’t cute little lambs anymore but just sheep.  They were taken to be sold and I waited to be rich.  The two lambs brought ten dollars apiece for a grand total of twenty dollars.  A veritable fortune at that time for a ten year old.  Dad brought the money home and gave it to me.  I was really, really rich!

Mother let me enjoy my new found wealth for a few minutes and then she reminded me that the whole twenty dollars was not mine.  I was dumbfounded!  What could she mean?  She told me that ten dollars belonged to my brother who owned half interest in the lambs.  I couldn’t believe that I was going to have to give him ten dollars.  He hadn’t fed or taken care of the lambs at all.  (Of course, I hadn’t really done all the work of caring for them, my mother had done most of it.)  It didn’t make any difference to Mom.  I had sold half interest in them for that one dollar .  And now my little brother had to be given half the money received from the sale.

What a great lesson I learned that day!  I still remember it all these years later.  What a smart woman my Mom was!  Talk about teaching moments! 

I can’t say that that lesson kept me from ever coveting anything again.  I can say though that it made me think before I jumped into something impulsively.



  1. A great lesson, for sure.


  2. That is hilarious, mom! I can just imagine the look on Walt’s face when you had to give him the $10. I bet he was quite smug!

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