Friday, March 23, 2012

I swear those sheep are out to get me

I love sheep.  I love sheep in general, and I particularly love the sheep we own.  But sheep have a capacity to make you crazy, like no other animal.
Remember this?  And  this?  And this
Well, they're at it again...
Madman had to be out of town this weekend, leaving about 7pm.  I was reading my email, anticipating a quiet evening of spinning while watching a movie.  Out the window, I could hear Goldie complaining about the poor quality of the hay I'd fed them for supper. 
Then I listened closer and realized that it wasn't her disgruntled blatt - it was her "OMG The World is Ending!!!" blatt.
I bolted for the back door and looked out.
Goldie and Orion were both trotting around OUTSIDE the pen.  I don't know if she was hollering to me for help, or just chastising him, both for being out and for leading her astray, but she was making enough noise to rattle the windows.
I scrambled for boots and a jacket and dived out the door.
Onyx and Merlin were standing at the fence, all goggle-eyed.  Goldie and Orion continued to mill around in confusion - Orion kept trying to go down the hill, headed for the open road, but he couldn't get Goldie to follow him, so he'd turn back and run around her again.  (I think he still dreams of Indiana...)
I ran for the gate (which was still standing, unlike the last escape (see link above)) and tried to open it to herd them back inside.  Unfortunately, after the last escape, we'd tied it shut with baling twine and bungies - we get in and out by stepping over the wire - and I couldn't undo any of the knots in the dwindling light.  (Cuz, yeah, twilight is the best possible time to make a jailbreak when you're a sheep.)  I ran for my car, where I have a box-knife that I use at work, and ran back to the gate and started hacking at string.  By that time, I was gasping from anxiety (and running up and down hills), and my hands were shaking so hard that I'm lucky I didn't hack a finger off, too.  I was seriously grumbling at them - "Oh, sure.  Dad's not even gone for half an hour, and already you kids are acting up..."
When the last string was cut, I dumped some grain into the food dish to keep my good sheep non-escapees busy and inside the fence when I opened the gate, and scooped up another cupful for wayward-sheep-luring use. 
Orion took one look at Onyx and Merlin chowing down and bolted off around the fence. 
"Okay," I thought.  "One at a time.  Get Goldie now, then I'll worry about Orion."
I was shaking the cup of grain at Goldie, trying to get her attention, when Orion mysteriously appeared inside the  pen, headed for the food dish that Onyx and Merlin were blissfully sharing.
Apparently, against all odds, Mr Dumbass had remembered how he'd gotten out and had gotten back in the same way.
So, there I was, in the gathering darkness, with the most nervous of our sheep left to catch.  And there she was, in full-tilt panicking nervous breakdown mode.  Both of us desperately wanted for her to be back in the pen with the other sheep, but only one of us had a plan for how that could happen.
Luckily, the one of us was me...
I kept rattling the grain, trying to coax her closer to the gate, but she was so skittish that she kept shying away.  It didn't help matters that the grain rattling was attracting the attention of the sheep inside the pen, as well.  I had to keep scooping feed into their dish to keep them occupied, while cooing to Goldie that everything was going to be all right if she'd just come-freaking-closer and let me lure her through the gate.  She'd inch toward me, watching the grain, then suddenly take off and run along the fence or down the hill.  A couple of times I almost had her, but the very act of opening the gate a little wider scared the crap out of her.  (Goldie has never been a fan of change of any sort, and moving gates are badbadbad in her book.)  I had to stand in the opening, prepared to block any further escapes from the sheep behind me, while appearing harmless and comforting to my crazed ewe. 
I had just dumped more grain into the communal dish behind me when Goldie apparently couldn't stand it anymore - the sight of the others getting grain and her not - and she bolted through the narrow opening between me and the gate, knocking me down in the process.
Well, whatever works.
I did a quick-tie on the gate, then started walking the fence, trying to figure out how they'd gotten out in the first place.  The answer?  A corner post (wooden) had broken at ground level and collapsed, taking the fence down with it.  Goldie and Orion had just strolled out over the downed wire.
By this time it was almost full dark.  I straightened the post back up and tried to wedge another post into the ground to prop it with.
Orion, our little Mr Dumbass, came running over and head-butted the prop, knocking it out of my hands.
"Hey!  Stop that!" didn't have much effect.  Every attempt I made to plant the prop resulted in  another head-butt.  Apparently he saw the prop as a rival.  Or something.  I hollered each time he did it, calling him a wide variety of names, and finally had to resort to smacking him on the nose to discourage him.
By the time I got the post into a more-or-less stable upright position,  it was too dark to see what I was doing.  I can only hope it holds long enough to keep them in until I can finish repairs in the morning.

Can anyone remember why I wanted to raise sheep?


Missouristar said...

I'd be happy to send Maggie the Corgi and her herding abilities out to help.

Anonymous said...

The phrase "herding cats" comes to mind but I think that might be easier than dealing with sheep. Good luck!

Bullwinkle said...

Now if you could only figure out how they were plotting this escape before Madman left ...

Good luck!

Laurie said...

No. I cannot remember anything other than fleeces, which you now have lots of.

Sounds like a fence repair is on the to-do list in the near future.

Wind said...

Because you had too much free time and life had gotten boring?

Wind said...

Because you had too much free time and life had gotten boring?