Rogue Sheep – a danger in the Aussie outback!

In Spring 1993 I was doing soil sampling, putting grids in for drilling, or doing any one of the jobs an exploration assistant does. Spring is also the time that the days can become just that little too warm for rogue sheep.

Rogue sheep? 

Yes. Rogue sheep.

Most, if not all, of the land on which I went soil sampling, putting in grids, cleaning up, or drilling, was part of one sheep station or another. These are vast holdings that can contain thousands of square kilometres of land. Just imagine the difficulty in keeping the fences in good shape. Also, try imagining the difficulty in making sure that all the sheep are rounded up when it comes time to shear them. This is where rogue sheep come into their own.

Bearing that in mind, there is one more thing that I want you to try and imagine. Picture wandering though the outback and coming across the stereotypical galvanised iron windmill-powered water pump and sheep troughs. The scrubby bush is quite thick around here and this clearing provides a pleasant place to stop for a break. The windmill is clanking, almost screaming, along but producing no water – the farmer probably hasn’t been around to maintain it yet – and the troughs are dry. Then there is a rustling sound and an apparition appears out of the bush. It looks like a sheep, but it has wool hanging off its severely matted fleece and wild red eyes that seem to be struggling to focus. You have been found by a rogue sheep.

It has escaped shearing for a couple of years and is now half-crazed by the heat caused by three years of wool growth. A closer look and you see that it has seen you and is struggling to decide what you are, as short-circuits overcome normal thinking. The one thing it knows is that you are at the water trough and that is where it wants to go. It is time to move, and move swiftly. An assault by a crazy sheep can do you some serious damage.

A spring thunderstorm can be the end for these poor creatures. As their fleeces become saturated, the weight can cause them to be unable to walk. They collapse and die from exhaustion, leaving only the smell of death, scattered bones, and some wool as a reminder of their presence. In bad shape or not, these creatures need to be avoided as they are unpredictable. I didn’t want to have to go back to Leonora and admit to being gored by a sheep. A camel would have been acceptable, and there are plenty of feral camels out on the outback, and even an enraged goat, and there are so many feral goats in the outback that it’s not funny, but not Shaun the sheep.

So if you’re out in the bush in Spring keep your eyes out for crazed red-eyes rams that have lost their grip on sanity. I mean it!

 

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon)

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