Monday, September 10, 2007

We've Got Trouble!

That's right. After three weeks of gallivanting around the rural mountainsides of Cheatham County, Tennessee; avoiding all the local coyotes, bobcats, and loose dogs; and befriending kindhearted local homeowners, Trouble the Runaway Lamb is FINALLY home at Ingleside Farm.

Can't Catch a Break... Or a Sheep!, Looking for Trouble, and Trouble Ahead if you missed the first few episodes of her saga)

Whether from the plentiful and varied forage in the Tennessee forests or the generous portions of goat feed purchased for her by the kind couple whose yard she visited frequently during her stint of freedom, Trouble is in excellent condition---fatter, in fact, than any of the sheep in my own flock!---and full of boundless energy. Like any escaped troublemaker returned to captivity, her only regret seems to be that she was caught.

Knowing her tremendous escape-artist talents, we had taken extreme precautions to prevent her escaping again. Two 9-hour trips to Tennessee to pick her up were MORE than sufficient. I didn't want to have to come back without her a second time!

Even so, our precautions were very nearly not enough. This is a sheep who does not take capture lying down!

First, Vern, the nice man who had befriended her, began feeding her in his shed, getting her used to going in there for her grain. Then, when we were ready for the next step, he was able to simply shut the door on her, leaving her trapped inside.

Next, my friend Nyxana went to Vern's house, caught Trouble, and transported her back to Nyxana's house. There aren't any sheep-proof fences there, so Nyx barricaded off a place in the shade beneath her raised deck for Trouble to stay in until I arrived.

Ken and I drove to Tennessee on Saturday. On Sunday morning, after a brief visit with Vern and his wife to say "thanks," we went down to load Trouble into the car. This is when I'd had problems last time.

The lamb had been relatively calm during the few days when Nyxana was feeding her, but got alarmed again at the sight of me, the "foreboding stranger." So I sent Nyx into the pen to do the catching, while Ken and I waited outside.

Twice, that 2-foot-tall lamb came up over the 4-foot-high barricade, and would probably have escaped if Ken hadn't been right there to shoo her back in. She ran to the back of the enclosure and, finding herself cornered, jumped straight up the solid wall. Enclosed by the deck above, there was no escape in that direction, but at the peak of the leap, the lamb's head was easily 6 feet from the ground!

As we oohed and aahed over her acrobatics like people watching a particularly impressive fireworks show, she headed for the front of the pen again. This time, Ken managed to reach over the barricade and grab her. With a bit of teamwork, we managed to get a rope around her neck---a bit of added insurance in case she somehow struggled free again---then Ken carried her to the car.

I opened the back of the Outback. Ken set the sheep inside. I went around to the back seat and Nyx handed me the end of the rope so I could hold the lamb inside while Ken released her and shut the hatchback.

And that was it! She rode back there all the way home. At first she bleated nervously. Then, bored, she started playing with the seatbelt straps. Toward the end of the trip, she got cranky and started pawing the floor and rapping her horns against things. But eventually we arrived home.

When she heard the bleating of other sheep---something she had not heard since the day before she escaped---Trouble got very excited and started calling back to them. But she's not allowed to associate with the home flock yet. Standard procedure here, even with sheep that have NOT been roaming wild, is that all new sheep must be quarantined for 2-4 weeks to make sure they aren't carrying any sickness that the other sheep could catch.

So for now, like a naughty child that is being punished, Trouble is "grounded." She's staying in solitary confinement in a small portable pen where she can see and hear the other sheep, but not get close to them.

Apparently she has a lot to say to them, because last night she called to them all night long, and was still talking in the morning.


Mark said...

How exhausting! Glad you brought Trouble home and that she is safe and secure. I hope the next two to four weeks goes by smoothly. Congratulations!

Red Brick Road Farm said...

Nancy--So glad to hear you caught your wild & wooly girl. My daughter & I have followed your story--what a relief! I hope she stays home now.

Natasha Laity Snyder said...

Sounds like quite an adventure for the little girl. This little ewe is adorable!! Enjoyed reading your blog!