Monday, August 2, 2010

Houdini has been talking to our sheep

You'll recall that I mentioned a few days ago that the sheep seemed to be dissatisfied with their pasture. After today, I'm pretty sure the problem is actually just the perverse nature of sheep.

This morning, I let the dogs out to do their business, and noticed some rather unusual animal life out by the cars. No, it wasn't deer, nor moose, nor anything more exotic than 4 of our very own sheep. Oreo, the adult ram, and Longtail and the boys. Now, we've gotten pretty immune to seeing them out on the hillside, but not out by the vehicles. Besides the obvious potential issues, there is a very large open field not too far from where they were, that opens up onto the road a ways up. And no, there is not a gate on this end either. Just a nice opening through which the sheep could pass into this haven of freedom. Needless to say, they needed to be encouraged back to their more usual range.

Sheep are usually creatures of habit, so I thought this would not be too much of a problem. I'd go out, leaving the front gate to the yard open, encourage them to go into the yard they covet anyway, and everyone would be happy, since the side gate out of the yard opens directly onto their pasture. So, I ducked back inside the house to grab my shoes, and went out the gate. The dogs, of course, came with me. That's when everything went wrong. Sprout, the little one, headed at top speed for Mom's house (in the opposite direction from the sheep), while Bailey, the big one, headed over to try to mother the lambs. Needless to say, Momma sheep was not too happy about this, and any visions I'd had of calmly herding the sheep into the yard vanished as they darted back into the barnyard. Bailey, or course, followed. I'm sure she was trying to be helpful, but.....

So, I went back to the house, and woke the progeny to come man the gate at the upper end of the pasture. My thinking at this point ran along the lines of getting the sheep to cross the creek in the barn lot, and then go up the road and into the gate. The sheep cooperate in the beginning by walking up to the creek. Where they promptly mill about looking confused. Bear in mind that the creek is all of 2" deep here. It's a bit wide, but really, their feet will get wetter in the tall grass than they will crossing the creek. Once again, my plans are thwarted as the sheep insist on turning tail and heading upstream and out the barn lot as fast as their legs will carry them. At this point, I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to have go get the pickup and find them so I can get them back to the general area of acceptability and then try to get them in.

Then, I notice them up on the hillside behind the house. Now, understand that this means that the contrary little creatures went just a little bit upstream and then crossed not one, but two creeks in order to get from where they had been to where they now were. I was only asking them to cross one creek and then go in a gate.

By this time, it's become a matter of principle, and I must get them back into their pasture. So, I move Sarah to the other gate (the one that opens onto the back hillside), and I go out and straight up the hill in order to get above the sheep so I can circle around them to move them towards the gate. I probably haven't yet mentioned that this is the hillside on which the star thistle are flourishing, nor that I didn't bother with socks, much less boots when I started on this adventure. I am at least wearing jeans, but my ankles are fairly unprotected, and star thistle are sharp little buggers. I successfully circle around the sheep and come up on them nice and calmly. By this time they've remembered that food generally comes from us two-legged beings and we're not all evil, and they calmly wait for me to approach. Then I notice that they are eating the little bitty short almost moss-type weed that grows on the barren hillside! Not the green grass growing right beside it. No, the nearly dried out browned bristly little lichen-stuff. And yes, there is plenty of this inside their fenced area. See, perverse. Anyway, this time they go calmly into the pasture, and Sarah shuts the get behind them. Then, she gets some corn and treats everyone so they can remember why they should come when we call them.

Then, I only needed to go down to Mom's and get Sprout. At least I got to sit down and fish the stickers out of my shoes once I got there, and Mom came out and we had a nice visit while we watched the hummingbirds. Did I mention that all of this took place before 7:10 this morning?