I have written before about my many field experiences involving rampaging cattle. In addition to cattle, I have also been pursued by dogs (including once being chased by a pack of dogs), had adventures involving birds, and even been attacked by a hive of wasps and been attacked by a yellow jacket. A co-worker of mine has described having her car attacked by a rampaging donkey, However, I had never thought of the placid sheep as an animal that could be a field hazard...until last week.
I was working in western Kern County, to the southwest of Bakersfield. The area is used as a pasture by sheep ranchers, a fact that I was aware of from having seen a good deal of dessicated sheep feces in the field when I worked there last summer. Being there in the spring, I had the opportunity to see the sheep grazing in the middle of oil fields - truly a bizarre sight.
We had been working around the sheep all week, with no problem. When they saw the car coming, they simply got out of the road and moved along. However, on the last day, this changed.
I was driving along a dirt road in one of the oil fields, and saw a flock of sheep lounging about. As had been the case before, I drove forward, and the sheep moved out of my way. But something was different this time. As a drove through the area that the flock occupied, the sheep didn't stay out of the road, but filled back in behind me, keeping me from backing up. And after I got a couple of hundred feet into the area, the sheep stopped moving out of the road in front of me.
I sat for a while. Honked the horn. Yelled at the sheep. All to no avail. The sheep weren't budging. They stared at me with looks that I had always mistaken for stupid incomprehension in the past, but now knew for what it was: malice and mockery.
After a bit, I suppose when the sheep got bored of their game of "screw with the biped", they finally cleared the road and let me through. I do, however, have photos: