Today was one of those days that I was glad to see come to an end. Actually most of the day was great. I got in the baking mood - banana bread, gluten free flax bread and Swedish cocoa cookies - so my son was on his own for chores in the barn this morning. He doesn't mind working alone when we've done a big cleaning the day before and since the weather was actually feeling unusually spring-ish it was a beautiful day to be outside. All went well until…
Evening chore time. It was already dark when he went out to put everyone into their pens and feed them for the evening - really dark. The kind of dark in the country makes city folk feel right uncomfortable. I'm a country girl now so I can't admit to being afraid of the dark can I? We have a yard light - most farms have one. It's as big as a streetlight in town. I hated that big stupid light so much that when we first moved in and we discussed taking it down mostly because it shines in my bedroom window at night and keeps me awake and it makes a strange hissing sound. How very annoying.
Moments after he left to do the chores DS came running back to the house with a panicked look on his face - MOM THEY'RE GONE. THE GATE IS WIDE OPEN. Oh my - by THEY he meant the ram, two ewes and the donkey! I was really hoping they would be in the back field close to the house - I don't know why - they never go there. HEAD FOR THE OPEN ROAD is their motto. First we ran around with a big flashlight - ONE big flashlight that we had to share. (Another one already on the list for the next stop at Canadian Tire tomorrow!) Then I stopped to gather my thoughts - they obviously weren't anywhere right close by- the animals or my thoughts either for that matter.
Pray first of all so you can think and then act!
In between running around I was praying hard. OH GOD HELP US FIND THE ANIMALS - it's pitch dark and I don't know where to look AND THEY COULD BE ANYWHERE ...getting eaten by coyotes, hit by a car, being beat-up by the neighbours stallions AGAIN or just not ever coming back... but you know where they are - please show us. Great example of pray and panic in the same prayer!
Next stop back inside to see if any neighbours had called - I wasn't sure if it was good or bad - but no phone calls.
Then we grabbed the car keys and a bucket of grain. We headed off down the road - first one way and then the other. Nothing.
Back to the farm. I didn't know what to do. I looked down at my feet in frustration and fear and SAW SHEEPIE FOOTPRINTS!! OH - footprints in the snow! We found more tracks leading to the east across the front yard so we got back into the van with the big flashlight. We drove slowly down the road and to our immense relief there they were...standing huddled together looking very lost in the front yard at our neighbours several houses down the road (who weren't home). I honestly think they were relieved to see us! We quietly stopped and Luke hopped out with the grain.
What I saw then amazed me. It was just like the children's picture books...they followed him all the way home and right into the barn. I could hardly believe my eyes after all the trouble we've had with Mr. Sheepie - they all just followed him home.
Never was I so glad for a quiet and DARK country road. No cars to spook them which could have been disaster and so dark that none of the neighbours even knew what happened! Those are about equal in scale in my mind. The first time Mr. Sheepie visited the neighbours was bad enough (see my post on "Boys - Oh Boy") I just didn't want to have to face them again and ask if they had by chance seen three sheep and a donkey wandering by. So, our secret is safe (as long as you don't tell anyone!)
Back at the barnyard in the light of the big yard light we tried to figure out what happened. Luke is not 100% positive he locked the gate after bringing the compost into the paddock early today but I've also seen Maybe (the donkey) play with the chain and she could possibly have managed to open it herself. Tomorrow we'll be adding an extra chain, a bungee cord, duct tape, all the bailing twine in the barn and whatever else I can think of so we don't repeat this scenario.
All is well. Everyone is back where they belong. The fence and the driveway gate at the front of the property have just become top priority again and along with that extra flashlight we'll be buying more light bulbs for the big yard light - I love that thing!