Thursday, 7 May 2009

One man and his dogs

I was out in the countryside last weekend. Nice place. As I wandered past a 10 acre field full of sheep, I paused and watched. Sheep happily doing what sheep do. Eating grass, wandering about, lambs leaping and playing. The whole field was dotted with contented animals doing what they do. All was well in sheep world.

Then the sheep dogs appeared. Black and white policemen. Slowly but with precision, they began to round up the individuals who were minding their own business eating hedges, snoozing in the shade or daydreaming about the greener grass in the next field. The circled and began to compress the sheep into a tight ball of stressed mutton, anxious and jittery. Then the flock was moved into the tightest space possible and held fast. The dogs patrolled and leapt upon mavericks or escapees. Then the dogs moved the whole flock to another corner, compressing them tightly, nipping at the stragglers and demanding complete obedience from the flock.

No more gentle chewing of the cud, no more snoozing in the shade. No more frolicking of lambs, happy to be alive. Panic. Terror. Compliance

A quick whistle and the dogs repeated the whole manoeuvre again. The thundering of anxious hooves, wide eyed with fear as the dogs tightly kettled the flock into another pointless ball of fear.

I asked the shepherd why he was instructing his dogs to perform these seemingly pointless exercises.

“I AM the government” was his response. “I do it to prove to myself and to prove to them all that I CAN do it” he said with a big smile.

We need to stop living in fields. Until we do, the shepherd will always want to show us who is boss, just because he can. Take to the forests and be free. I'm going free range.


Obnoxio The Clown said...

Sometimes it can be pretty impressive though.

Ampers said...

An excellent article, "Shredded Tobacco", excellent and well written.

Mind you, the farmer was inviting violence with his words, rather than with his actions, wasn't he? :-)


yellowbelly said...

Did any of the sheepdogs push a sheep over to see if it would bounce?

marius said...

Fantastic paraphrase of our life...

Chalcedon said...

If sheep had guns they could shoot the dogs. Or the threat of being shot would keep the dogs in check.

Captain Ranty said...

Fear, intimidation and threats.

Vital tools of government.

If just five sheep said "Fuck you" to the dogs, the jig is up.

Time for the 60 million to say "Fuck you" to the 646 sheepdogs.

Anonymous said...


Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

The most interesting point about this parable is that the sheep were motivated by fear, rather than any physical harmful action.

Once we face the fear, their actions become like that of an irritating fly on a hot summer’s day: a quick swat and it’s back to enjoying that mint julep.

Not a sheep said...

That's why I identify more with goats than sheep, independent of mind and a more hygienic tail arrangement.

it's either banned or compulsory said...

If you introduce Vitnamese Pot Bellied Pigs the dogs soon learn their place, slinking away from the fire place and ousted from the comfey spot on the sofa, pussies.

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