In 30 Minutes Flat

The scene.

Andy and Jodi are sitting together in the car, returning home on one very average winter day!

3:21pm – Andy and I are driving home from a shepherd’s conference in Lansing” two full days of sheep talk with fellow sheep lovers and livestock veterans. We’re on our way to pick up the kids from their grandparents’ house as we leisurely drive past the house.

Just past our driveway, we look left out the window toward the barn. We see sheep inside the fence. Then we see sheep outside the fence. Dang.

The sheep are out, I said, reaching to put my shoes on. My statement was a bit of a formality because Andy already had his foot on the brake.

3:22pm – Andy turns around in the middle of the road, and we begin strategizing our round-up plan as we barrel down our driveway toward the house.

3:23pm – Both of us burst out of the car and hustle inside for a quick change of clothes. Conference attire is not really suited well for animal round-up events in the mud.

3:26pm – Shoot! Louie (our dog) has been cooped up in his kennel all day, and I realize I really ought to let him outside before chasing after the sheep. I peek out the window as I’m throwing on my coat and see the escaped sheep have circled the barn and are now making their way toward the farm behind ours.

In a hurry, I open the door for Louie, who immediately spots the sheep and makes a beeline across the deck in their direction. I rush after him, whispering my urgent commands to cease and desist in my socks (no time for boots yet) in hopes of steering him away before he spooks the sheep. Before he can act on his instinct, I scoop him up and dart back into the house, passing Andy on his way out.

3:28pm – Andy rushes out to the pen where the sheep are supposed to be. He finds the gate standing open with one sheep stuck and another behind it trying to get out. They were apparently following their buddies but got wedged in between the gate and the haystack on the other side.

Andy pushes them back inside the pen and latches the gate. He grabs the first bucket he sees, half-runs toward the feed barrels, chucks some grain inside, and rushes out the overhead door.

3:29pm – Now armed with a leash and shoes, I let Louie outside, wait oh-so-patiently for him to do his business, toss him back inside, and slam the door so I can finally go see about those darn sheep.

3:32pm – Running toward the back of the barn, I can see that the escapees are milling around nervously. They’re clearly skittish and ready to run at any moment. (Sheep get nervous in new surroundings.) Who knows how long they’ve been out today. I look around for Andy and keep an eye on the sheep, thinking about what to do next. Where did he go?

3:34pm – I don’t need to wait long. Andy comes jogging around the corner with his grain bucket. I immediately understand the strategy and slowly make a circle around to the back of the flock to put some backward pressure on them as Andy starts shaking the feed bucket to get their attention.

3:35pm – Jode, go open the gate.

What? I ask, confused. I’m afraid of letting more sheep out.

Go ahead of me to open the gate and let us in! he says as loud as he dares so as not to spook the sheep any further. He’s still shaking his bucket and trying to keep the flock moving toward him, but slowly enough to give me time to run ahead.

3:37pm – I work my way back around the group at a speed walk pace. Once I get ahead of Andy, we both pick up our speed and fairly run toward the pen. The sheep follow. Open the gate, Andy goes in, the sheep go in, close the gate behind them. Whew!

3:40pm – Without hesitation, we both start counting heads. One short. Count again. One high can’t they all just stand still so we can get this right? Recount again. Okay, all of them are here.

3:44pm – How did they get out? I ask.

The kids were supposed to collect eggs before heading to mom and dad’s for the day, he says. They were probably in a hurry to get there and forgot that they left the gate open.

Imagine that. We both roll our eyes.

3:47pm – After a quick check on everyone else, we head back inside to change clothes again. We double check that the gate is latched.

When we get back in the car to finish our original errand, we check the time

3:51pm – Deep breath out. Carry on, Schippers.

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