Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Rescue of a Lost Sheep

One day, soon after Leonard P. Heaton had returned from his mission in 1956, he and I went hunting deer in the mountains west of Pipe Spring National Monument. We were on a bench east of Potter's Canyon. While riding along, we suddenly saw sheep tracks. How could a sheep possibly get upon this bench? They were fresh tracks and very unusual ones. Every time they came into view the sheep appeared to be dragging something. Suddenly we ran on to her. She was lying down and did not try to get up. We thought at first that she was dead. As we drew nearer she tried to get up. It was then that we saw that the huge amount of heavy wool that she was carrying was keeping her from moving around. She could not run and could hardly walk. Why had she lived here so long without the coyotes eating her? Upon closer observation, we could see that the coyotes could not possibly have gotten through all of that wool. The only bare place was her nose and around her eyes.

She had undoubtedly strayed away from a herd while yet very young, perhaps during her first year, and had climbed up onto this bench then. She had no doubt found various water pockets in the rocks or natural springs that had kept her alive. The abundant food supply there had also been all hers.

We drove her very carefully down to my waiting pickup and loaded her in. Her wool was so heavy that all the way down she would walk a few steps then stop and rest. We kept picking her up on her feet and moving slowly on. A sheep will shed it's own wool in four years, but we figured by her teeth, that she was only three years old.

I took her home and cared for her a few days, we took some pictures then sheared and weighed the wool. As I recall, the wool weighed 42 pounds. I also measured the wool. That around her face and head was 6 to 10 inches long. But that on her back and sides was 12 to 14 inches long. She had undoubtedly lived on that lonely haven for more than 2 years.

As Leonard was soon to be married, the wool was sent to woolen mills where nice new all wool blankets were made.

- Annie M. Heaton(as told to her by Clifford K, Heaton)

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