Posted by: jeannineatkins | November 8, 2007

Whose Sheep are You?

Missing Sheep (or why I’ve got a handful of grain in my fleece pocket)

I have a great writing room upstairs, but I’ve gotten into the habit of writing in the kitchen, partly spurred by loving to watch birds at the feeder come winter, and now an old dog who can’t make the stairs and wants my feet nearby. So this morning I was blogging about poetry, reading a letter from Liz reminiscing about Chex mix, when first the dogs then I went on alert. We’ve had various animals cross our lawn. Wild turkeys wobbling by in a line, squirrels, of course, especially active in fall so that our vigilant Parker just toppled a stack of Spiderwick Chronicles and a fat Monet book in his eagerness to alert one and all to a squirrel with a nut. We’ve had a few bears lumber by when the dogs are inside. (my dear eighty-something father-in-law, thin as a rail, stores a baseball bat when he drives up, which does not conjure a pretty picture. Pop, stay in the car and honk!)

Today I looked out the window at blowing brown and yellow leaves, and a sheep. A big ram, dingy but dignified, not a fluffy white Mary-had-a-little-lamb sort of creature. I called my neighbor, Mel, and while we’ve got steer, horses, peacocks, goats, and chickens in the neighborhood, we couldn’t think of any sheep. The town animal officer wasn’t around, but Mel climbed the hill with a rope and bucket of grain. My dog-walking friend Mary and I set out as usual. Parker practiced herding on a bigger animal than squirrels. Rough-tough-but-just-ten-pound Louis kept a wise distance, but I ended up taking my dogs home to focus on rounding up the wandering sheep.

He had us through woods and fields, losing each other, so there were shouts of “Mel!” “Mary!” “Millie!” (Mary’s dog) There are no corners in the woods to corner an animal – we kept getting close enough to look in those eyes – confused but unfrightened – and he’d take off, between pines, hemlocks, and gold and green leafed poplars. Mel was leaving her farm work, Mary had sanctuaries to run, I had poems to take apart and put back together, Millie had the vet to see. But even coffee got put off for a bit.

At last we got close enough for the sheep to come forward and duck his neck into Mel’s bucket. It was an “awww” moment, but one that quickly ended after Mel looped a rope around his neck. He bucked, he bronco-ed, he got away. Eventually Mel herded him into her barn, and calls are still out: whose sheep are you? Of course when Mel’ daughter came home from school she asked: can we keep him?

I got to spend the rest of the day feeling a little heroic and thinking how my now-city-girl might laugh if she reads this – drinking her latte from down the block, no grain in HER pockets.



  1. That is so funny. I once saw a rebel sheep standing beside a stream – it apparently had made its escape from the nearby livestock auction 🙂

  2. good for the rebel sheep. That is actually a theory as there was an auction in town, about 3 miles away, the day before. As a ram, it would have likely been kept for breeding, but was the whole ordeal too much. Is he — oh so so sad — looking for his lady friend?

  3. 😦 let’s think happy thoughts.

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