Tuesday, October 27, 2009


When I opened the door this morning and stepped into the windy autumn garden, I saw two sheep there: an ebony lamb and a steel-gray ram. I sat down to put on my “going-out-to-feed-the-sheep” shoes, while Dierdre, our dog, stood nearby eyeing the two ovine grazers. As I stood up, the lamb bolted out of the garden, followed closely by Dierdre. The ram, Humphrey, looked at me indecisively. I began wondering if something was wrong just as Humphrey, and the garden gate, moved. The gate was attached to the sheep – he had put his hoof through the mesh, and the wire was twisted tightly around his back leg above the hock.

Oh, bother. How do sheep get into these situations?

Dierdre and I reached Humphrey at the same time. She motivates sheep to extricate themselves from adverse situations by nipping at them. The sheep dislike it, but the method often works. However, canine problem solving was not appropriate in this case; her attempts only made things worse. I told her to stay away, at the same time calming down Humphrey who was pretty spooked. Dierdre trembled with suppressed “helpful” energy but kept her distance. Humphrey struggled a bit but then seemed to realize I was trying to help and stood still. I pulled and pushed, twisted and untwisted, and, just as I had about decided to go find some wire cutters, the wire slipped below his hock and off his leg. Now free, Humphrey stood quietly, waiting for a scratch behind the ears, and then ambled off, apparently none the worse for wear, to rejoin the other sheep.

Some mornings are definitely more interesting than others.