A quick search on my blog tells me that I have not told you the story about the time I let the neighbor’s sheep out of its pen. I was reminded of it because I talked to that neighbor the other day. I did NOT tell him this story.
Last summer, we met the neighbors who had recently moved in to the big house at the end of the lane behind us. They’re super nice, and they happily gave us the use of the lane between their house and their barn so we could use it as a path through to the neighborhood on the other side. They were putting up gates on either end of the path to prevent random traffic, but they assured me that I should feel free to go through them whenever.
I didn’t want to take advantage of this shortcut, but it was awfully convenient, and we used it happily for a few weeks. And then they got two baby sheep.
They kept the sheep in the fenced area in front of the barn with the two gates, right where we would walk through, so I avoided going that way for a while. I didn’t want to assume it was still okay since, you know, livestock. The next time I saw them, maybe a few weeks later, they mentioned that we hadn’t been by lately, and I explained (sheep, gates, don’t want to assume), and they assured me it was fine (pish, tosh, nonsense, of course you can still walk through) – they really are very nice people.
I didn’t immediately take them up on their offer, but it wasn’t TOO long before we started using the path again. Jack was always in the stroller, so I would park it close by one gate, open it just enough to get the stroller through, get him through as fast I could, and then hurry to close the gate. Same drill on the other end, and then repeat on the way back. Getting out was always a little harder than getting in because these were very friendly little lambs, rushing over as soon as we came in, butting at my knees, baaing. (Jack paid no attention, but I thought it was cute.) Still, for a good while I was able to get in and get out, going for the walk and coming back home, without mishap.
Then came the mishap.
Jack was sleeping soundly so we were heading home, and we got back in the fence without any issue. It was getting out where we had a problem. The only thing that saved me is that one of the sheep was less interested than the other. Both were at the gate with me, and when I told them to go away (before I opened the gate), one of them listened (the bigger one, thank goodness). The other did not, so I held him (her?) off with my knee, like you would a jumping dog, while I opened the gate just barely enough to get the stroller through. I got through, too, and I was closing the gate when the littler sheep squeezed past.
I set the brake on the stroller as quickly as I could, shut the gate before the other sheep got out, and tried to somehow chase after the runaway sheep without spooking it. It headed toward the house instead of toward the road (whew), not running (double whew), so I crept that way talking to it (here, little lamby-lamby, I’m not going to hurt you). It gave me some crazy looks, teased me a couple of times by heading in my direction only to scamper off, and at one point completely freaked me out by dashing toward the driveway. I only caught it because it stopped to eat some ivy, and I cannot say how grateful I am that it was still a baby (maybe knee-high) because I was able to pick it up and keep it restrained while I got the gate open again and shoved it back in.
No one was home to witness my misadventure except Jack, who was no longer napping (we were not exactly quiet).
We haven’t used their path as a shortcut since.