• Roger Sims

Sheepish, but not sheep

Updated: 2 days ago

My thoughts today are about horses and dogs, and I’ll throw in an unwanted opossum, too.

It’s not about sheep although I wonder if life would be easier if I raised sheep. I am told they are not as tricky as horses and dogs.


Not that any of the story hasn’t happened over and over, but it just seems like the perfect time to write about the recent behaviors of my animals.


I was making a last-ditch effort to clean my kitchen before my son and three grandkids were due to arrive. Part of the day’s activities was to attend the Mound City Arts and Crafts events for old-time sake as years ago my kids sold their farm-produced honey at the fair. And, new memories were to be made, as Grandma McPherson planned to purchase a “Just because I love you” gift for each grandchild.


With broom and other cleaning appliances sitting out, I looked out my front window to see Charlie-Horse and Midnight grazing on what limited green grass I have remaining. Pondering how they got out from the pasture, I remembered my efforts at adding some temporary panels to expand their grazing due to the scarcity of hay. I forgot I had moved one. Clever as they are, it only took a short time when the sun came up to find the location. There’s a routine to this behavior and within forty-five minutes they had grazed at the neighbor’s pasture but they were back safely within their own.


These horses are obviously smarter than me. One of the reasons my son was coming out was to return a trailer he borrowed which was to be left in the horse pasture. With the gate still open, Brendan and I were unloading the contents of the vehicle and simply didn’t have our eyes on the horses.


With fresh water and grain for breakfast, they were ready to rest in the cedar tree grove located outside their pasture. They were not as cooperative this go around, and with my family anxious to go to the fair, I raised my hands in disgust and yelled, “I’ll get you when I get back!” Water, too, is sparse right now and with few ponds around, they are known to come back where the amenities are top-notch.


A few hours later and within an hour of sundown, the horses had not put themselves back into the pasture like I anticipated. I drove at least twenty miles circling around section after section hoping to see them walking toward home. After many prayers and with the sun already down, I headed home believing they might be in their pasture at next morning’s sun-up. Charlie-Horse is about 19 hands tall but coal black so he isn’t easy to see in the dark. Thankfully I could see an outline of two horses trying to get out of a run-down fence not being sure if they would clear the top wire.


The rest is history other than to say I saw two horses with heads down walking behind my car likely knowing they had been naughty. Sheepish behavior, one might say. Raising animals is a little like raising children, but thank God, they still come home.


To finish the story, I am caring for my other son’s dog, a German shorthair, and my dog, also a hound, look for ways to escape together to hunt like hounds are supposed to do. Later today, two tired, sheepish-looking naughty dogs will return. If they could talk, just like the horses, they would say, “Our freedom run was worth it, Mom!”


Oh, yes. A hungry opossum found its way into my tall trash can and couldn’t maneuver out. I devised a safe plan for his release, but I bet his Mommy is wishing him home, too.


Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson is a writer who lives outside of Centerville. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.

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