The sheep moved further into the hidden hollow she’d found herself in a secluded section of overgrown hedgebank. Dense bramble rush thistle and fern help her feel safe. She was uneasy, weary; the flock’s restlessness and agitation had muddled her mind. She circled making a small nest in the middle of the impenetrable foliage, lay down closed her eyes and began to cud.
Sometime, a short time, a long time, she was not sure, she became aware of noise. The sounds of the flock moved closer and louder; it made her edgy alarmed eventually the flock passed by and all went silent. She didn’t stir. Her foot was hot and painful. She pulled at a young bramble shoot, slept, dozed and chewed the cud.
During the night she heard a vixen move close, hunting for her young. She smelt the musty sweetness and heard the rustle of the leaves. A young rabbit screamed. The night moved around her pocket of safety. Ears alert she listened for familiar sounds, nothing was recognisable. She stayed put and nibbled at her leg above the tender foot.
It had been light for some time when she emerged. She felt calmer now and the day was grey and damp. She’d been hiding for almost twenty four hours. She became aware of the emptiness of the acres around her. Silently she moved through the high rush in an effort to locate her companions.
Cattle were moving along the lane. She heard shouts and calls. The barns echoed with noise and commotion. Unease was beginning to return. She’d been unable to find the flock and unusual cattle activity was making her jittery. She made her way to the boundary fence down into the gully. Slipping and sliding along the steep sides she gingerly picked her way along the shallow water. Though she wasn’t happy walking in the water the coldness soothed her foot. She found a shallow mossy bank that was familiar and which led her into a small enclosed field. She stood in the middle looking at the cattle and people passing the gate.
She was now at a loss and continued to stand in the middle of the field. Some time passed until she heard the truck and people. The person she knew opened the gate and called to her, she felt safe and answered. But now there were two people, slowly coming towards her with sticks. She felt panic rising and tried to escape to the mossy bank. She was wild with fear; she couldn’t reach the bank so launched herself into a low tangled mass of willow branches. She knew she was going to die.
The heavy weight of a body landed on her. Fear made her go limp. Pain whizzed up her leg as her foot was cut, stung as spray fizzed. Motionless she was lifted into the truck and bounced out of the field. Time moved again, the truck stopped. The person she knew made her jump and she landed in another world. She stood looking, unmoving and silent, at her flock. She put her head down and began to graze.