Did we want to come out and help my sister bring the sheep in? They cross the creek every morning, but at night they must come back to pastures closer to the farm buildings to keep them safer from the coyotes.
Yes yes yes, we want to bring the sheep in. We were hoping for some of those whatchacallit sheep hooks but instead my sister loads us up with camera and hoes. Hoes? Yes, she says, there are snakes out here.
We stand near the creek bank. See the bridge Rex built? We will bring the sheep across it even though they balk at water and startle on the bridge. Mary (as in Mary Had A Little Lamb) talks to us about bringing the sheep in. Low voices and no sudden moves. Think of the sheep, she says, as having a bubble just as we humans do. Breaching the bubble is bad, but suggestive nudging is good. The sheep will move away from you to protect their space. The trick is to move them towards the bridge and not away from the bridge.
I’m thinking of the last time we were here we played Montana Motor Boat in the creek, so I miss what Mary said about how sheep don’t stampede. Or did she say they did? I want to ask — in fact I almost raise my hand to catch her attention when I notice a section of fencing. Camera in hand, I’m off to capture this moment where sage brush claims the wire just as the barbed wire claims the sage.
Somewhere in the distance the flock is talking — some bells binging and some bells bonging and lambs baa-ing for their mamas. Had I stayed beside my sister, I might have learned better sheep lingo, but I am distracted. Hello, who, I want to ask, who lives here?
I should put the camera away –the sheep have begun to move. Magic is at hand. My daughter turns to smile at me — have I noticed Mrs. Weldon yet?, she asks.
Yes, Mom – listen. Do you hear the high bell? The one that tinkles the loudest? That’s the ewe wearing our bell.
Stepping closer isn’t possible –Mrs. Dontmesswithme is bringing up the rear. Bbbut we can stand and shhhh — tip our heads and listen.