Woman Who Runs With Sheep
I have no one to blame but myself, since it was my idea.
Our flock of sixty ewes had grazed down the newly fenced north pasture, and now the sheep were out of food at the west end. My partner Melissa and I needed to run the sheep all the way back to the east end, where the grass had regrown into thick and yummy pasture. The only route for moving them back was fenced on the right side. Excellent.
There was nothing on the left side but open pasture, so we needed to keep the sheep from turning left and running all over the pasture. To prevent this we were faced with the daunting task of spending hours setting up temporary fencing to block off the left side.
That’s when I got my brainstorm. “What if I walk ahead of the sheep with a bucket of corn?” I said. “I’ll lure them straight ahead, and they’ll be so intent on the corn that they won’t be tempted to veer off to the left and create chaos. You and the border collie can bring up the rear in case there are stragglers.”
I started out about 50 yards ahead of the sheep, and when Melissa opened the fence to let them through, the lead sheep saw me with the bucket and heard me rattling the corn. She headed straight for me and the others followed. This was good.
I began walking, wanting to pace myself since I had about 350 yards to lead the sheep, the length of 3 ½ football fields. But when I glanced over my shoulder, I noticed the sheep were rapidly closing the distance between us. I broke into an easy jog.
The ground began to shake as the flock approached me at a now alarming rate. The border collie behind them might have had something to do with that.
I began to run because there was no escape. Soon the flock was running right behind me. Then the faster ones ran alongside me. I clutched the bucket to my chest and tried not to think about what would happen if I tripped and fell. Within seconds I was surrounded by sixty frightened sheep who weighed 150 pounds and pounded the ground with hard, pointy hooves.
The sheep and I were now all running for our lives, but hey, at least we were running in the right direction. Corn flew from my bucket as my lungs burned and I started gasping for air. I am not a runner. I am not a jogger. I am a walker. Some days I am a champion sitter-on-my-butter.
In movies people who are drowning just let go at some point and sink below the surface. At 100 yards I reached that point, having nothing left. I slowed down, sure I’d be run over. Thank god the flock decided my pace wasn’t fast enough and moved ahead of me. “Eat our wooly dust,” they cried as they thundered past.
I didn’t see what happened next because my rubber legs collapsed and I lay prostrate on the ground, the bucket still clutched to my chest. I think the border collie passed me. Then came the engine of the 4-wheeler and Melissa’s jubilant cry that my plan had worked, and damn, isn’t this fun?
Sadly, we repeat this exciting event 3 times each summer. I need to have my head examined.