His name is Fly. Fly Flanagan, this fluffy round ball of a puppy, lying here in the crook of my elbow. I had never really liked the name Fly. Or rather, I had never really understood it. In Scotland, where border collies live in great abundance, Fly is a name commonly associated with the dogs of the renowned trainers. All shepherds, unlike the trainers stateside, who seem to be composed of Frisbee throwers.
I've read stories of countless dogs with the name of Fly. Fly the dog who found and dug a ewe and her lamb out of a snow drift, after they were buried for days.
Fly the faithful. Fly the swift. Fly the greatest sheep dog of all.
But I am an American. Arid here in cluster-fly country, black-fly country, and many others of the species of fly, I had not an appreciation of the name. But in its perplexity, it always gnawed at me. I wanted to like it.
One day, suddenly, with no apparent reason, I understood. I saw in my mind's eye an infinity of shepherds each calling "Fly, fly, fly!" as his inimitable border-collie races, feet barely touching the ground, up a hill, across its expanse and back down again, the sheep in a flock before her.
If, indeed, it is a her. And that was part of the dilemma. Is Fly the name of a male or a bitch? I didn't know.
Fly has fallen asleep. Instantly. The moment I sat down with him. He is exhausted after having a wonderful playtime with Peabody, the cat, in the kitchen. She sat on a chair. The better to swat him on the nose. He'd retreat.
And then charge. Only to be swatted again and retreat once more. Life is good.
My friend Ernest and I brought him home in the truck. Two hundred miles round trip, Ernest said. The puppy stared up at me. The music in the cab of the truck was a little louder than usual. Strange sounds to that little creature who spent his whole life in an outdoor pen. After a while, his eyes closed, and, with my hand over his ears he fell asleep. I looked at his registration papers. There was the answer. Both answers. His father's name is Fly. And one of his grandmothers' names is Fly. So be it. And Fly he became.
That little round ball with the round eyes, staring up into my face.
But what was to be his last name? I thought of McGillicuddy. It almost seemed right. However, almost doesn't satisfy here. I'm not known for my ability to live well with almost. I tried McKenzie. But that name is already possessed by a sheep, and a little girl I know. Fitzsimmons has been done here as well.
I went to bed. Fly curled up next to my shoulder, thinking Fly McKenzie would be the name of choice. Got up in the morning, dissatisfied with my choice. Put him on my lap and in that moment got it. He is Fly Flanagan. Fly Flanagan. Across pasture and meadow. Hill and, brook. Fly. Fly Flanagan.
His breeder is remarkable with his dogs. They are not only trained to bring in sheep but can separate goats from sheep, return them and then re-divide the mix.
Among other things, I was impressed.
I knew which puppy I wanted on first sight. The one with the same marking as my first border collie, Steele. A heart of sorts in white, on his forehead. And droopy ears like her daughter, Samantha. The liveliest one. Although that is not supposed to be the best choice. I've been told that the dog who sits, alert and ears up, staring at you, is the one to choose. I didn't listen. This energetic little fellow may prove to be a handful. I'll see.
New animals bring hope to a farm. The heifer calf, born of one's second-best cow. The triplets out of the old lady ewe. Even a new pair of marmalade cats for the barn. And new chicks, of course. They are the wellspring of the farmer's eternal faith that life shall bring life and all shall therefore grow and prosper.
Adam Smith wrote a great deal about farming in The Wealth of Nations, about nature's laws of increase. True wealth, he maintained, generates more wealth. Service industries do not. Should one employ a cook, the value of that service is gone the moment the food is eaten. Should a farmer plant a seed, income and wealth shall be created with the help of nature, because of the plant that did not exist only a short time before. If it grows, that is.
We are increasingly becoming a society drained by our need for services.
Services that require a payment but produce nothing of lasting value. The words sustainable agriculture have always confounded me. I've never understood how a farm dependent on gasoline could consider itself to be sustainable. Farms run with horses create another horse from time to time. I use no machinery myself but depend on those who do to cut and deliver hay, and so would never dream of calling my farm sustainable.
Except, of course, in matters of the heart. And then it is totally and absolutely sustainable.
Is my new puppy part of the new or old order? Is he a member of the service economy or of Adam Smith's design for increase and the creation of true wealth? That remains to be seen. For the moment, he is simply part of my order of things. He is part of the laws of
the increase of the heart.