Monday, January 14, 2008

The Mother of all Sheep Stories

This story is from a late night in November 2003, and is the “Mother” of all of the “One for the Book” stories. This is how it goes…

“You get a few border collies, and somehow it turns out that you end up co-owning some sheep. This is how you get in trouble. I was just contemplating crawling into bed for the night. About 10 pm my phone rang, with my friend on the other end who works nights as a dispatcher for the county sheriff's office. Uh, Oh. This cannot be good. It is a major no-no for her to make personal phone calls at work. Turns out this isn't really a "personal" call. Uh oh. She says there are sheep running loose on the (very busy) road that just so happens to be near the place where we keep "our" sheep...Uh, Oh. The first two 911 calls were actually from people who almost ran over a sheep with their vehicle in the dark.

But, they can't possibly be OUR sheep, now can they? The deputy says they have two black-faced lambs with them. Ah ha, that can't be OUR sheep as we have no lambs. Whew. But then a few calls back and forth between the officers and the friendly dispatcher on the radio, and yes, we have got a description on the perps...7 white adult sheep and 1 brown Barb running with them. YIKES! My feet hit the floor. Apparently the "city boys" have mistaken the 1 barb for 2 black-faced lambs and the "country boy" deputy who came upon the scene as "backup" has ascertained that tiny distinction.

I grabbed Bid and roared 16 miles up the freeway, meanwhile frantically calling my partners in crime, I mean sheep, to come and help. Meanwhile on the road my dispatcher friend calls again on the cell phone and says there are not one but FOUR "Units" as she calls them. By this I soon learn that this term means a deputy and a squad car, one per unit, on "the scene". OhMYGOD. I hate to drive faster for fear of getting the ire of the CHP who while they are brothers to the county sheriff's deputies they might not take kindly to my kind of "emergency". I get to the sheep field and find just one "unit" remaining, a very young "unit" who was waiting for me to show up. The four "units" had managed to herd our sheep with their squad cars into an empty field and shut them in....this field is two fields over from our field so we have no way of simply taking them back home...and the field the sheep are in is HUGE, did I mention that? The other 3 "units" have already left to handle other such grave emergencies as may befall folks in the waning hours of the evening in a small town.

So I parked my truck and walked up to the "unit"-- I mean deputy -- and say, "Hi" in my most friendly and sweet voice. He says, "These your sheep?"

I took a look at the deer (sheep) in the headlights, and said, "yes".

He responded, "how can you tell?" Good question.

All sheep might look alike in the pitch blackness lit only by squad car headlights. I said, "Yes they're ours". I guess since I am dressed rather sloppily in glasses and sweats hastily thrown together he decides I am not in fact a sheep rustler but a legitimate sheep person, whatever that is. We discuss what to do and he advises leaving them until daylight...which sounds great until he says to me, "ya know if this field is fenced all the way around?" YIKES. Did I mention that this field ADJOINS THE FREEWAY exit? YIKES. I bid adieu to the "unit", finally, after he has expressed his grave concern over the welfare of the perpetrators, having to spend the night outside "getting all cold and hungry" (in his words). Yeah, right. Like I care. They could be dog food tomorrow after all this trouble. Somehow with Thanksgiving coming, for some reason I am humming bars to "Alices' Restaurant". Yikes, I am dating myself.

So I drove over two fields to our barn and took Bid out of the truck, who thought this was all great fun. Did I mention that we had just been to the sheep barn after work to train dogs, and everything was tied up with a bow at nightfall? Did I mention that we have no electricity out there so it is pitch black? Darn that new moon! I got the big flashlight and Biddy and I started walking the field to see how they got out. I found a small gate left open by the neighbors. DANG! Well that's not what I said but that's all I can type.

By now my partner in crime, I mean sheep, had arrived. We decide that since we didn't know if the field that the sheep have been shuttled into is fenced that we should at least attempt to get them back that night. So we drive out into the field (yippee, an excuse to put the truck in 4 WD!) and shone the lights on the fencing...which we proceeded to cut in two places to make a place to bring the sheep thru. Yep, we're real rustlers now. It's a good thing the wine grape harvest and crush is over with so the vineyard people wouldn’t be out and about next door. We took the dogs out into the immense open field and we found the sheep a few times but each time they ran away in the darkness. About 12:30 a.m. we gave up and decided to wait until daylight. Did I mention the border collies were immensely enjoying all this?

At 6:45 a.m. things looked a lot brighter. It's amazing what you can do when you can SEE. With just two border collies, a pair of wire cutters, and a minimum of effort we managed to get the sheep back thru the cut places in the fencing and back into their home field, with only a slight foray into the high-end vineyard which borders the sheep pasture. A quick patch on the fence and we're home free. The brats, I mean sheep, are all in one piece and no highway accident was caused by them. WHEW. They didn't get all the way down the road to the Wal-Mart or the Home-Depot which could have been a real nightmare. Perhaps they heard about rumored auditions for Serta sheep and decided to give it a shot instead of being dog-training fodder. Who knows?

I was only an hour late to work. I'm really glad my friend was working dispatch that night. I’m thankful that there was no “film at 11” about this incident. I know Bid loves his sheep work, but I’m really questioning whether I would ever find a dogwalk or weave poles out wandering in the road trying to make it to the WalMart."

1 comment:

Linda said...

This IS the mother of all sheep stories!!! So glad it's now archived for all to enjoy :-)