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  • Clarke Wallace

WHAT WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT SHEEP

Those woolly creatures, some with big horns, some without, found in farmers’ field enjoying a lazy life in the open spaces. Think that about them, and you’re wrong.


The Toronto Star in a recent piece by Sally Coulthard had this to say, in part, on the Opinion page:

‘In today’s crass political discourse, the rule-followers are often dismissed as sheep: passive, meek and dumb.’


How disillusioned can we be? Here’s how.


In the English village of Marsden many residents wondered how sheep were getting over a wide, deep steel cattle grid topped with iron bars and on to their property. The sheep did so because the grass on the neighbor’s field looked greener, sweeter, tastier.

When I was a kid living in Woodbridge, we had an acre of fenced land close to the house. One summer mom and dad bought two sheep to keep the grass short.

One morning there was a shout from mother yelling from the back porch: “The sheep have gone! Disappeared!” It was followed by few choice words mumbled by my dad.


We went out, my older sister and I, to discover they had gone. How could they? We checked the high wire fence. In good shape. No holes dug under it for them to escape.


We found the critters a day later munching on fresh, tasty green grass on a farmer’s field a mile away.


Author’s comment: Can you believe it? Sheep. Solving such a problem. And that’s only the beginning. In PART TWO we discover how we’ve been underestimating sheep for centuries. Like how they recognize 50 different faces -- and remember them.

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