The blood curdling alarm call from Carol stopped my heart for a moment; even though I know that such a shout or scream could be the result of nothing more than a mere shadow. I hastened to the garden to see what terrible manifestation it could be. It was a sheep a solitary sheep was stood in the garden eying the lush vegetation in our flower beds. Facing the sheep was Carol armed with a broom, shooing the ship for all her worth. The sheep stood impassively chewing on it’s last mouthful of grass.
Now an independently minded sheep can be a worrying-some thing. They were designed after all to follow each other around until such time as somebody or something eats them! This one had been emboldened, leaving the other 499 to follow Ubacca the African shepherd boy; it has evaded the two dogs and headed for us.
I understood at once why Carol was nervous. Yesterday I had allowed Francisco the owner of the flock to bring 50 or so of his sheep on to what little grass we had. I was about to cut the ragged sward when I saw him heading out across the field struggling to find fodder on the parched land around us. The sheep seemed grateful for the opportunity and quickly devoured the grass. Gradually the body of our own small flock separated into ever smaller groups, each manoeuvring their way around the garden trying to pass us and get to the shrubs and flowers. Several of them went round the back of the stable block, and Carol was now caught in a pincer movement. Which ever way she ran the sheep on the opposite side of the stables would get by; and now some of my group were heading for the trees on the far side of the garden whilst the remaining sheep strolled purposefully towards the flower beds. It was chaos!
Hearing our frantic calls Fransisco and the two dogs came running, even the dogs were grinning to themselves; and possibly a few sheep too. Soon order was restored and the sheep resumed the journey over the fields.
And today one of them had returned to try again, single handily, a stealth sheep, a sheep which had almost evaded our defences until confronted by the Memsaab and her broom.
The sheep decided that two of us and a broom had changed the odds. It left the arena crossing to the finca where it grazed beneath the fig tree. And there or thereabouts it stayed, occasionally approaching the garden perimeter but staying a broom length or two away. We were therefore confined to the house if we turned our back, Solo as we had decided to call the Ewe, Would feast upon our plants.
When Ubacca and the flock returned I told him he was missing one of their number.
He looked concerned and asked if the ewe was feeding, when I told him she was he smiled and said
This is of course the typical Spanish response to any difficult situation they may encounter up to and including the end of the world. Before I could say another word he pointed, there trotting happily towards the rest of the flock came Solo.
¡No Problemo! Repeated Ubacca.
Solo would have a story to tell that evening I’m sure.