Question: What goes stomp, stomp splat? Answer: Me, running after sheep this morning and doing a nosedive into a pile of poo. It’s never easy when it’s time to move animals and this morning was no exception. In fact, this morning was day 2 of a round-up that started yesterday.
Joe and I wake our teenage son as soon as the fog rises off the mountains. Son jumps on four-wheeler and zips up the driveway and out to road while his parents poke along behind in the truck. When everyone is successfully assembled at the gate-we-hope-to-bring-sheep-through, son and father enter the field of battle while I wait on the road. The tried and true strategy is that Scott will travel up and down hills, rounding up sheep and funneling them down the holler to his father who is waiting below rattling a grain bucket. I am stationed on the south end of the road to prevent the sheep from travelling to town. This is the way it usually works, but today, the sheep have apparently been sucked into a giant space ship by mutton-busting aliens. They are nowhere to be found. Not on our land, not on our neighbor’s land, not on our neighbor’s-neighbor’s land. Joe and Scott search for an hour while I sit on the grain bucket out on the road. Then we go home to eat breakfast. Sometime's it’s best to just wait things out.
Same wake up scenario but, this time, the sheep are clearly visible across the road. We must make haste before the sheep abducting aliens return. Son zips out driveway followed closely by parents in pick up. There’s no time to lose. Son speeds through the gate-we-hope-to-bring-sheep-through and successfully corners the flock, turns them and sends them out the gate. It is a brilliant, hair-raising ride on steep hills. The sheep barrel out into the road, but unfortunately it’s only one half of the flock. The other half is a whole hill behind. Before they can all reunite, the first group changes its mind and EWE-turns in the middle of the road and barrels through the newly arrived flock. They all scatter up a very steep, very wooded hill. Joe throws the grain bucket after them. It doesn’t help.
Day 2- continued
Joe runs straight up the hill while Scott guns the four-wheeler and careens up the holler to head the sheep off at the pass. I run up the other hill and do my face plant in the poo. The sheep watch us warily from the woods and slowly, slowly, oh how slowly, we coax them down. Like wooly pendulums they vacillate up and down between the hills until finally they make the turn and stream through the gate-we-want-to-move-them-through. Joe runs back down the hill, grabs his bucket and walks down the road, shaking the ten corn kernels left in it. Convinced that he has a banquet in that bucket, the sheep follow. Once they are on the road they lose interest and weave back and forth plunging down the steep shoulder on the right and climbing the steeper shoulder on the left. I follow them and the audience of drivers waiting in their cars behind us is treated to the sight of a 49 year old woman belly sliding backwards down the shaley slope. The sheep watch from above and when I land at the bottom, leap over me to tip tap docilely down the road. They wend their way to the turn-off stopping to taste every wildflower before they hop through the meadow gate. Scott follows them on his four-wheeler while we race up the driveway to open the gate at the other end where we finally bring the sheep home.
The Bible often refers to humans as sheep and Christ as our shepherd. Every time I work with sheep I am reminded of this. Makes you think, doesn't it?