High on a Hill Was a Lonely Goatherd

Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo

(Mystery project solved!)

My childhood was not full of traditions. It just wasn't how we were raised.

But one of the few family traditions we did have was watching the annual TV airing of The Sound of Music.* My parents, sisters and I loved/love that movie. I think even my brother likes it more than he cares to admit.

Like many fans, my absolute favorite scene and song in the movie was/is "The Lonely Goatherd". Who can resist singing along? What child didn't dream of being one of the von Trapp family children, maneuvering the marionettes with Maria, singing and yodeling away? Those amazing puppets! That fantastic set! Brilliant!

Not surprisingly, my girls love the movie, the soundtrack, and "The Lonely Goatherd", too. They go nuts when the song comes on, interlocking elbows and swinging each other around. They sing and yodel words that oftentimes mimic the actual lyrics.

I thought what better present for my girls than a few marionettes of their own so that they can re-enact that scene over and over again here at home?

Obviously, there is no way I could ever come close to recreating the masterpieces created by Bil Baird. Not in this lifetime. So, I went with very simple and used some cloth, wool and bits of string and came up with these two little ones.

I aimed for "resemble" rather than replicate. Much easier that way. My "little girl in a pale pink coat" also looks less curvy, more young...modest :)

I am so excited about this project because this is JUST THE BEGINNING. Think of all the things the girls and I can make! A collapsible stage made out of a tri-fold display board (cover it with paper or paint? fabric or felt? adorn it with trims?)! Background scenery drawn by the girls using pastels and butcher paper! Playsilks for the curtains! More puppets! A few more marionettes! My brain is on overdrive!

I have a different cloth doll body in mind for making the "Mama" (a more floppy version so that one can control her head). Perhaps we'll make the "Men on a road with a load to tote" hand puppets out of wool felt. Maybe my husband can stand in for the "Men drinking beer with the foam afloat".

And I've been having fun playing with these little marionettes in the meantime, making them dance around the floor (I had to make sure they work!), testing out which control would work best for the girls (they are temporarily stringed up right now as my husband and I fine-tune/sand the real controls). I've been joined by my youngest who has been also testing out an inexpensive goat marionette I bought for Christmas so there are three marionettes to start with (no fighting! everyone gets one!). My older two daughters have no idea about this project.

Still, even the goat is a placeholder, until I/we can make the goat marionettes, too. Knowing my girls, they'll want to start with the baby goat...who wouldn't.

I am so excited about this project. Seriously excited. I think it will be something to pull out on a rainy day, something we can revisit year after year. I know the girls will have fun. I just know it.

(Her eyes don't glow and aren't as bright as these pictures depict.They are a deep turquoise/blue...not bright/blinding aqua :(. One of my New Year's resolutions will be to improve my photography skills! I wish you could see her in person.)

*For several years, my parents conned us kids into believing that the movie ended when the children went to bed (after singing "So Long, Farewell"). I was stunned...absolutely stunned when I discovered that the movie kept going for long after that scene.


  1. Those are SO cute! I love it! I was sitting here racking my brain but when you wrote "pale pink coat that song started running through my head. I googled it after I posted my comment just to remember all the rest of the lines and then I was pretty confident I had gotten it.

    Beautiful dolls! Your girls will LOVE them!

  2. These are gorgeous!! It is funny I have been going nuts trying to guess this, I even thought of The Sound of Music but was just thinking of the von Trapp family not the Lonely Goatherd. You are seriously talented and I can't wait to see the little things you will add to it. Maybe you can add pieces every Christmas.Your girls will go nuts for these.

  3. Absolutely wonderful!! Your enthusiasm is so contagious...just the thing I WANT to catch this time of year :-) Your girls will love these. I love these!

    Great work; looking forward to the future posts of scenery, stages, and marionettes.


  4. @ Mommy - Thank you so much! I sent you an email. If you didn't get it, email me at bybido@gmail.com .

    @ Lorin and Heather - I know you were thinking about this a lot! Adding a new piece every Christmas sounds like a great idea!

    @ Beth - I come up with so much ideas leading up to Christmas...and usually don't have time to execute them all. Every year I tell myself to start earlier! Like this year, I'm not going to make one of the dolls I had planned to make. It will have to wait for a birthday/other special occasion.

  5. Wow, I think they are the most amazing thing Ive seen in blogland for a long while. Well done, I think you have a truely amazing talent.

  6. Love Sound of Music, LOVE these puppets! I haven't watched the movie with my kids yet - maybe it's time.

  7. Those are incredible! I had a feeling there must be lederhosen involved, just couldn't quite figure out how. :-)

    When did your girls first start watching SOM? I'd love to show my four-year-old, but I'm afraid of having to explain Nazis.

  8. @ SweetPeaknits - thank you!

    @ lucy - it's on TV the day after Christmas this year!

    @ greatjencreations - you could do what my parents did and just let your child watch it until the kids go to bed :). to be honest, my girls lose interest after that part anyways. all their favorite songs are up to that part. oh, and thank you!

  9. Incredibly adorable! You could definitely have fun with this for a long, long time. This is spawning some mommy guilt for me over the basement stage I promised my girls about 18 months ago - what DO I do with all my time?

  10. Great work Jill! I just watched the TV airing again this past week and your "resemblances" are remarkable. Your dad sent me here after we had an email discussion about the true story about the von Trapps as opposed to the Sound of Music version. Still love the movie and the music even though the story line is mostly fiction.

    Adding a new marionette each year sounds like a great tradition! I'll bet they will get passed down for many generations!

    Jim (your 3rd cousin once removed)

  11. Thanks, Jim. My dad sent me the link to the "real story" I already knew most of it, but still like to pretend the movie was the real deal :).

  12. Your dolls are AMAZING!!!!!!! I am so impressed with your skill!

  13. I love that you made the little girl in a pale pink coat more like a little girl and less like a serving wench.