October 7, 2015

My Sheep Know my ATV

By SANDY BLANES

The gate opens, the ATV turns into the field leading down into a valley where in the distance Hampshire black-faced sheep look up at the first sound of the motor. In an instant, bleating, baaing, and the sound of hooves comes towards Frank Pister as he descends towards the herd. Along with the sheep talk are the sounds of the many bells which chime louder and louder as the sheep gain momentum running as if pulled by invisible strings. The bells sound out with the disharmony of an orchestra tuning up before a concert and as the sheep reach the ATV, which continues down the hill, they all turn and follow.

"That’s how I herd them," says Frank as he comes back out of the field, the flock watching as he pulls away. "As for the bells," he says, "coyotes are cowards, get those bells ringing and they run. Bells also sound out for sheep which might have strayed, helping them to come back to the others and safety."

Then it’s back to the homestead where Pister, who is turning 89 this year, was born and where he remembers having sheep since he was little. A walk around the farmyard, brings out many of the 30 plus cats, all sizes and colors, which also follow Frank around. He said he never had so many cats before, but since his dog died not long ago, it seems like they’ve really multiplied. The animals all stay outside, though, and trail along as Frank shows off his prize sows. Concrete blocks and railroad ties block the way out under the fence to freedom and the gardens.


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