It’s 2:27 a.m. last night and my eyes pop open. Ah, yes, such is the life of a shepherdess. A sheep (Snowdrop) is bleating every other breath for some bizarre reason. Ohhhh, can I just go back to sleep? Please? The one and only time I ever did that, I regretted it.
The one and only time I ever just got back into bed after looking out the window on a moonlit night to see what all the ruckus was about – turned out to be a mistake. I had gotten up to see what Feta-Sheep was yelling about. It wasn’t a panicked “baa”, it was a sort of “commere-baa”. And, as a lot of shepherds know, that can mean a sheep has gotten separated from the flock or a lamb from its mother – not necessarily a throw-your-clothes-on-and-go-outside-with-a-flashlight-and-see kind of situation. Eventually, in a few minutes, the bleating will stop and things will be quiet again.
Worst case scenario, there could be naughty coyotes, neighborhood dogs, bears, panthers, alligators, crocodiles, dingoes, zombies, etc. breaking into the pasture. (We do live across the road from the swamp.) However, our fencing is close to Ft. Knox-style, so I don’t easily get worked up unless the ewes have just lambed.
So, the one and only time I just went back to sleep without checking, from my view through the window Feta-Sheep appeared to be standing apart from the flock under an oak tree eating some leaves. Big woolly deal. I went back to bed. She kept on with the bleating every other breath, and I kept rolling over. I was annoyed and extremely tired and mostly slept through the next seven hours of it. In the morning, when I went to grain the horse, there was Feta-Sheep still standing there under the tree…in the same location. Strange, I thought.
I stepped closer to see if I could notice anything amiss. It appeared that a branch had gotten tangled in the wool along her back and she was TETHERED there! Oh, great! I thought. I had just slept through her being stuck there for seven hours – POOR Feta-Sheep!
Once I got into the pasture, the plot thickened. (She was SOOO happy to see me though!) She had stepped through and into the middle of a braid of thick, woody vines growing up out of the ground from every direction into the live oak tree branch that hung down low. It wrapped around her middle and chest like a harness, and, thankfully, wasn’t overly tight. It’s possible she would have broken free if I hadn’t noticed as the vines were close to breaking off near the roots, but I was so glad I HAD noticed! The guilt had already settled in from not coming to her rescue earlier. I folded her legs back through the vine-braid and out she stepped. She tubbed all over me to show how happy she was. She was a little wobbly on her legs from standing for so long, but that didn’t stop her from starting to graze. She was mostly VERY hungry and no worse for the wear!
So, back to LAST night. Yes, I got out of bed, put a bunch of clothes on because it was COLD, got the flashlight, and hiked out there to see what the ewe-lamb, Snowdrop, was screaming about (trust me, I know all of their individual voices). Nothing, nada. She was just standing there with the other ewes pointed towards the ram pasture. Silly ewe-lamb is in heat for the first time (she is only just barely six months old), standing there calling for a conjugal visit from a ram. Like that’s going to happen; no more teenage pregnancies allowed here at Sandhill Flats. Snowdrop is the product of the first and last teenage pregnancy, which was less than ideal. I counted all sheep and went back to bed.
What a waste of time and sleep. You would have thought I would have been able to roll over and sleep through the rest of the six hours of constant bleating – nope. I barely snoozed, and generally kept all cats and husband awake the rest of the night. Gotta love sheep drama!
Moral of Story: Just get up and check on things. You’ll be glad you did, at some point. Always listen closely and be observant.
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