Saturday, January 11, 2014

Oh, the ice is wide, and they can't walk over...

Sheep can't read the weather report. The five ewes only knew that temperatures were rising and the far pasture, with bits of green grass, would be a perfect spot for a morning graze.

They walked across the snow, not realizing that underneath it was a field of ice.

Throughout the morning, as the temperatures rose and the rain fell, they grazed.

Only when they walked back toward the barn did they realize they had a problem.

Between them and the barn was a field of ice topped with a half-inch of water.

Some say sheep are stupid. But these sheep knew that the ice was slick and unsafe.They refused to cross.

I, though, can read the weather report. With warming temperatures, some of the ice would melt, and maybe there would be a place to cross. I opted to wait and see.

But, when I returned home after dark, I saw that the sheep were still standing in the far pasture, and the field of ice was still there.

I grabbed a flashlight and Mickey, my old Border collie. Together we walked into the dark, rainy night. Surely, we could find an alternative path back to the barn.

We did. But it involved taking the long way home -- opening lots of gates and going through several other pastures.

Moving sheep at night can be tricky because often you can't see the sheep or the dog. Adding to the difficulty was that there were still lots of icy patches in the pastures.

I based my commands on sound, and I trusted Mickey. After sending her to gather the sheep, I listened for the sound of crunching snow that would tell me the sheep were moving. Then, I stopped the dog. We did that a lot - move and stop, move and stop - as we worked through the gates and pastures.

But eventually we got those sheep back to the barn and their buddies.

And today, they aren't being let out into the pasture with the icy patch.

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