There is now a facility via Google to find ALL the sheep captured by Google.
There is now a facility via Google to find ALL the sheep captured by Google.
I’ve just read a little book called How to Hide from Humans. It’s written by a sheep, telling other sheep how to hide from humans.
If you enjoy surreal thought-provoking humour, then this book will please you. Considering you can’t even buy a cup of coffee for the price, give it a shot. It made me laugh out loud, and brought me up short the very next page. There’s some deep stuff there, and it doesn’t take much to find it. It may also haunt you with the ideas.
Wild Sheep Dismayed
There was so much to learn about life beyond the safe, predictable life behind the hedges and fences and farms that most of the escapees found themselves bewildered and disorientated. Some even chose to go back, shortly after their frenzied escape from the field on finally understanding their fate. The cold and the hunger and the fear were all too much for animals who had been reared to accept the sweet hay and sheep nuts left out for them, and the ministering of the vet when ill.
But a hardy few survived the first months beyond the confines of their former lives and those who did realised that the long term survival of the wild sheep meant sharing both knowledge and experience with newcomers, still with their wool fresh and clean and smelling of sheep-dip. If you had comrades with whom you could stand when the blizzards came, then you would not freeze to death on your hooves, and when the predators came, as they will, you can stand and face them. If you all rush as one, you will put most predators to flight by your sheer force of united strength.
For sheep are far stronger than many imagine them to be, not seeing that beneath the layer of wool and insulating fat, they are powerful beasts and capable of laying a man out with ruptured internal organs. But they are herd animals and they are happiest in a group and as time went on the escapees formed small groups that were not quite flocks. The groups had to be small for obvious reasons, because no one wanted to draw attention to themselves and be caught. Fleeces were deliberately allowed to grow green with algae, as camouflage, and instead of following paths they tried to take new routes each time so no new paths could be worn.
As time went on, new arrivals were accepted into existing groups and taught what they might safely eat, where to drink without being seen and other vital things. Some of the new wild sheep were strange looking, rare breeds and even exotic ones escaped from parks and even zoos. The only requirement to join a group of wild sheep was to declare oneself to be a wild sheep.
Once a year, around the autumn equinox, the sheep would all meet high in the mountains to discover what the year had brought each group. A great gathering of silent sheep would scare the life out of any human watching but these sheep knew how to keep their peace and as they filed into the valley a watcher might have marvelled at their numbers, and the variety of the forms the sheep took. Small ones and large ones, black ones and (greenish) white ones, piebald and grey, they came in every shade and form you could imagine. There were even plenty who everyone knew were really goats but who could scarcely be distinguished from the canny, sure-footed little sheep who grazed the mountain passes. The goats were as welcome as any.
Each group had an elected leader who spoke their year’s news and when most had spoken and the wild sheep were feeling content that their fellows were thriving, a ragged looking fellow, so thin his backbone showed through his fleece spoke up. His little band of sheep were no better than he.
“Our news is not so good,” he said.
“Why so? Your territory has good grazing far from people. What has troubled you?” asked another spokes-sheep.
The ragged sheep was silent for a while.
“You will see that we are fewer in number than we were last year,” he said. “Shortly after our last enclave we were joined by a new sheep, fresh from the farm. He seemed as relieved as any to have escaped. He fitted in with our ways and all seemed well for a while. Then our sheep began to grow listless. To grow thin when we should have grown fat, for as you have said, we live on good land with rich grass.”
“So what happened?” a small black sheep asked.
Again the ragged sheep took some time to answer.
“I have only now understood what happened,” he said. “But I do not understand all of it. The new sheep….was not like any sheep I had known. He could do things I’d never seen. He could persuade you that the grass over there was better than this luscious patch of clover you had been about to eat, or that if we all went down to the road there was a load of spilled beets and carrots to enjoy. But the road is miles away and when we got there, the beets were all gone. If they had even been there. But the worst was to come. He became close friends with certain sheep; you would never seen them apart, grazing together, and slowly, his friends weakened. Some died, in their sleep; some vanished. Some we know went back to their farms. I did not understand that he could have the power to weaken the others until a dear friend of mine fell under his spell. When she became too weak to move, I found her, lying a long way from any of us. As she lay dying, her spirit broken, I made her tell me what had occurred. She had felt like she had fallen into a dream, and she would willingly give up the best grazing for her friend because he had suffered so when he was at the farm. Though our grazing is good, it is sparsely scattered and we are careful not to allow places to become obviously grazed. She would bring him the choicest of leaves and would even venture down to the farm to steal mangles and beets and carrots when he was flagging. He would talk all the time about going back to the farm, and that life out here was too hard and how he missed the life he’d led back there, and that while we would all eventually be slaughtered, better to die warm and well fed. And she would argue that living wild and free might be hard at times, but surely it was worth it to build a better life that was lived as true sheep should.”
The ragged sheep bowed his head.
“I sought to find our newest sheep and found him gone before I could question him and call him to account,” he said. “I do not know where he has gone. I cannot ask why he did what he did to so many good sheep, or whether it was his intention to do so. He may have gone back to his farm, or he may be wandering to find a new flock.”
“What did he look like?” asked a spokes-sheep from a little further back.
“He looked just like any one of us, an ordinary sheep that has sought to be wild,” said the ragged sheep. “There was nothing to warn you. It’s not as if he was a wolf wearing sheepskin. He was just another sheep.”
“So how can any of us know if he (or one like him) is among us?” demanded another sheep, her voice full of fear.
“We must be vigilant and we must talk to each other,” said the ragged sheep. “Support each other, share our burdens widely. Not with just one sheep, but openly. What we have learned needs to be shared with all, but so too does what we experience. I have heard tales of vampire sheep that suck the blood of others, but these are just tales to scare the lambs into silence at night. This is far worse because you offer your strength willingly to another, believing that the other will share with you when you need it. And they do not. I would rather a ravening wolf came among us than this.”
Soberly the conclave of sheep ended and the groups dispersed as silently as they had come, each thinking hard thoughts of their own and feeling a chill like winter had come early.
This time I just mean literally, a sheep. No metaphors.
and appreciate the true cuteness of a sheep.
Wild Sheep are sheep who have become aware that there is more to life than the field they live in, winning rosettes at the show and becoming the perfect sheep to end in a perfect shepherd’s pie.
Wild Sheep are people who have begun to ask the awkward questions about life, about what they have accepted for so long and taken as truth.
Wild Sheep are people who wake up one day and see clearly; or slowly wake up over a period of years. Some are born awake and seeing clearly. You usually find wild sheep like this in high and remote places: but there are some who live in our midst and are often the people who have bugged the hell out of us because they won’t just do things the way we think things should be done.
If you watch the ads on TV and ask, “Why do they want me to buy this X?”…
If you question everything in the newspapers and on the TV news…
If you stop in the middle of the working day and ask yourself, “There’s gotta be a better way to do this,”……
If you step out in faith and do something a different way…..
If you stop assuming that They know what they’re doing….
…then you’re probably a wild sheep.
But wild or not, sheep are vulnerable and need a flock for defense. We’re just little woolly bleaters, aren’t we?
Wrong. Did you know that the animal that kills the most humans in Africa is not the lion but the buffalo? Even lions fear buffalo. Predators work with the fear instinct. Divide and feast: if you get the herd/flock in a panicked stampede, you can pick off the weakest member of the community, usually the very young or the very old or sick, and bring them down. The herd won’t stop you. They’re too busy running for their own lives to care about anyone else till later…
That’s why sheep are herd animals: we need each other. Wild sheep stand and fight. They put their weakest members in the middle and stand facing out, horns at the ready. If you’ve ever been kicked by a real, live sheep(I have) it hurts. It can break bones. Just because we don’t have tearing teeth and claws doesn’t mean we can’t defend ourselves.
If you have a wild sheep story, share it here. Together we can be stronger than the predators….
A Franciscan Blessing
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. Amen.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection,starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. Amen.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.
And the Blessing of God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies, be upon you and all you love an pray for this day, and forever more. Amen.
Once upon a time there was a flock of rather wonderful sheep who lived in the lowlands. Each sheep was quite distinct from each other so that while they were all sheep, they all had their own special qualities. One quality they are shared was the desire to win at the annual agricultural show, and come home with a nice big ribbon rosette.
“How can we make ourselves into perfect sheep?” they asked each other. They spent a lot of time wondering about this and it occurred to one sheep in particular that they ought to ask those sheep who had come back with rosettes what they had done to make themselves the ideal that the judges sought. So this little sheep wandered round the flock until he began to realise that there wasn’t a single member of the flock who wore a rosette any more. “Oh they don’t let us keep them,” said an older friend. “We might lose them or get them dirty. All the rosettes are on the wall in the shepherd’s cottage.” “Well, then who of the flock has won a rosette so I can ask them,” said our little sheep. The older sheep smiled at the little sheep’s naivety. “Bless your heart, they don’t stay on in the flock once they have won,” he said. “They move on to bigger and better things.”
“But where?” persisted out sheep. “And what do they do?”
The older sheep could give no answers, so the little sheep decided that he would investigate for himself. One night, after moonrise, he slipped through the gap in the hedge and went to the cottage where their shepherd lived. The shepherd had fallen asleep in his chair and the little sheep could see all the rosettes and certificates on the wall, so he pushed quietly through the door and went inside. Along with the rows of rosettes and certificates, there were newspaper articles too. Now, as I have said before, these sheep were rather wonderful and could read. One article caught the little sheep’s eye and it said,
“Our gold standard for sheep is a thick even textured fleece, free from parasites and burrs and well washed in running water, evenly distributed fat(which comes as a result of grazing on good lush grass and feed supplements in the colder months), neat well trimmed feet, clear bright eyes , a tail of no less than three inches in length…..”
Being a clever sheep, he had the whole list of specifications and recommendations memorised in a trice and he ran back to the flock bursting to tell them all the information that would make them all prize winners. The secret to being a perfect sheep went round the whole flock in less than a day and each sheep concentrated on perfecting their physical form and appearance. Hours were spent nibbling hooves to trim away excess horn and each sheep competed to find the best patches of clover and lush grasses. They would ask questions like, “Is my rear fat spread evenly enough? Should I graze a few more hours a day?” and of course, they all began lying to each other. After all, there were only so many rosettes awarded each show. “Yes, darling, you are looking perfect already.” “I’d vote for you if I were one of the judges!”
The little sheep spent as much time as anybody at first trying to perfect himself but a growing sense of unease began to keep him from concentrating too hard on his self improvement. What was it all for, really? The winners went away and never came back. He didn’t want to lose his friends and family and all he’d ever known if what he might be going to wasn’t massively better than what he had here. So he resolved to go and have another look around the shepherd’s cottage to see what he might find out about where the winners went and what they were doing now.
Under the gap in the hedge again (getting harder because he was now fatter) and into the cottage. In the kitchen, remains of dinner were left out on the counter and his eye was caught by the picture of a sheep on a box. Rearing with some difficulty onto his hind legs, he looked more closely at the box:
“Premium Shepherd’s Pie,”the box announced. “Made only with the very best cuts of prize winning lamb meat, from grass-fed rare breeds. Only the best for your dining pleasure.”
Despite his woolly coat our little sheep went cold with utter horror.
“They’re going to EAT us!” he whispered. “The prize winners get eaten!”
Then he noticed the picture on the tin left empty on the counter. It was a tin of dog food for the jolly border collie who herded them from time to time. It too had a picture of a nice fat sheep on it.
“Best cuts of lamb mixed with spring vegetables and rice, keep your dog at peak form” the tin read.
Very, very quietly the young sheep got down and crept away from the cottage and back to the flock., to tell them what fate awaited those who achieved the standards he himself had set them all aiming at.
But his words fell on deaf and even scathing ears. No one believed him.
“Eat us? Don’t be so silly? Why would they do that? They spend a lot of time looking after us. Why would they eat us when there’s so much wonderful grass and vegetables to eat?”
Horrified at what he had done and very frightened for the future as the show was coming close, the sheep sat down in a corner of the field and tried to think what to do. No one would believe him, no matter what he said. They were all so focussed on coming back(briefly) with a rosette that they never once thought what might happen afterwards.
So one last time, he slipped through the gap in the hedge. It was a terribly tight fit now and he felt sure that he’d never fit back through, and he left great white gobbets of his own fleece caught in the thorns and twigs. And he ran for the highlands.
The young lambs were playing happily in the spring sunshine while their mothers snoozed or ate the new grass. As they came close to the hedge a voice whispered to the nearest lamb, “Hey kid!”
Despite the fact that he was a lamb and not a kid, the youngster was curious and came closer. Through a gap in the hedge a strange face appeared. It was a sheep but like no sheep he’d ever seen. Lean and muscular, his fleece roughly shorn and with eyes brighter than any of the flock’s, the strange sheep was oddly compelling.
“You’re a wild sheep,” said the lamb, awed.
“I used to be tame like you,” said the strange sheep. “I used to live here. Now I live in the highlands.”
“What do you want?” asked the lamb.
“You need to hear something very important,” said the sheep. “You know the sheep that win prizes at the show?”
“Oh yes,” said the lamb, his eyes lighting up with excitement. “I want to be just like them when I grow up!”
The strange sheep gave a rueful smile.
“Yeah, kid, so did I,” he said. “Have you ever asked yourself where they are now?”
“No,” said the lamb.
“Then I’ve got some bad news and some good news,” said the strange sheep.