Ian, the shepherd's son, was sitting in class when the teacher gave him a math story problem.
"If you have 20 sheep in the pasture and five find a hole in the fence and go through it, how many sheep are left in the pasture?"
"None," he answered.
"Fifteen," the teacher said, adding, "You don't understand math."
"You don't understand sheep," he said.
I thought of this story this week when a herd of horses got out of their pasture, resulting in numerous traffic accidents and several horses being killed on the road.
As an animal owner, this is one of my biggest fears. While I take steps to have secure fencing, it's never a guarantee. A gate could be left open, a fence could be cut, a spooked animal could go through or over it.
The comments that I heard about the loose horses story this week were almost as distressing.
The news reporter called them "these things" (they are animals) and commented that these "are full-grown horses, not ponies. They could do some damage." Ponies which can weigh 600-1,000 pounds -- considerably more than deer -- could also do some damage.
Then I heard comments like:
Why would all 39 horses leave the pasture?
They must have been abused.
They must have been starving.
Why did they run so many miles from home?
I felt like Ian, the boy in the story, trying to explain herd dynamics and flight response. And I was again reminded how far most of the population is from agriculture and understanding livestock.