This particular intriguing sight is something I have witnessed on more that one occasion and it can be somewhat distressing. However, this tale has a happy ending so please don’t let that put you off.
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Sheep, as you might know, sometimes make the unfortunate error of getting onto their backs, from where all they can do is wave their little legs in the air helplessly. From this position, if not assisted, they are often unable to get back the right way up.
I’m sorry to say that I have seen a few dead ones in this position, but on the up side I have also seen a few live ones, and was recently even able to play the caped crusader myself and rescue one.
It was a few years ago that I first witnessed the method by which one should right an upside down sheep. As with many of the useful things I’ve picked up in life, I learned this from my dear parents.
We were on holiday in Galloway, driving along a small country road next to a green field full of grazing sheep, when we noticed that one of them was the wrong way up.
Some time before this, my parents had found a similar sheep elsewhere and had alerted a farmer to the situation. The farmer had gone along with them to see the poor animal and had shown them how best to get it on its feet again.
Having taken this very short sheep-righting course, the parents were ready to tackle their first sheep alone.
All three of us jumped out of the car and hot-footed it to the sheep, whereupon we assessed the situation.
I watched carefully as the delightful assistants took up positions behind the sheep’s head and each took one of the sheep’s shoulders.
What happened next was that the sheep was hauled up onto its posterior, so that it was sitting up. It was then allowed a few seconds of calm meditation, time to reorientate itself and reflect on its folly, before being given a gentle push from the back to tip it forward onto its little feet so that it could trot off.
I watched all this happen on the above occasion and tried to memorise it in case I should ever be called upon to do the same thing myself.
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Just a few weeks ago, I was out for a quiet country walk with delightful assistant no.1 when we spotted a sheep lying a field with all four legs sticking up into the air. Delightful assistant no.1 was afraid that it might already be dead, but on watching it for a short while, we saw a leg move.
The sheep was some way off across a squelchy muddy field, but we got to it as quickly as we could and, after a little nervousness from me, grabbed a shoulder each and hauled the poor thing up onto its bottom. It looked a little puzzled for a few seconds, but when we thought it was getting the hang of life again, we tipped it forwards, and off it trotted to join its fellows further up the field.
One thing I would say to anyone wanting to turn a sheep the right way up is that you might like to be prepared for the weight of the beast. The one we righted was an astonishingly large and solid animal, and required our joint strength to get it up from the ground. Only time will tell if I am able to right a sheep on my own, but perhaps it’s a bit like those situations where mothers lift cars to save their children, superhuman strength miraculously appearing when urgently required.
I’m sorry I don’t have a more detailed series of photos to explain the whole procedure, but I hope that anyone reading this and wondering if they ought to rescue upside down sheep when they see them might be able to make use of this post to assist them in their endeavours.
Just to be sure of what you’re aiming for, here’s a picture of a sheep the right way up: