Friday, November 27, 2020
Ewe Wouldn’t Believe Who Stayed at Sun Valley Resort
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Lucy, the lost sheep, is content to graze in the back of Lili Simpson’s truck.
   
Saturday, November 21, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Little Bo-Peep’s sheep never had it so good.

When Lucy, became lost from her band she got a complimentary overnight stay at Sun Valley Resort. Then, the next morning, a band of angels showed up, complete with a ewe-haul bed layered with fresh hay to chauffeur her to her new home.

“This wonderful community came out to care. So, a life is saved,” said Mary Austin Crofts, who dubbed the ewe Lucy for her elusive quality.

 
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It takes no time at all for Eunice and Lucy to become quick friends.
 

As the newly minted leaders of the Wood River Wolf Project, Sarah Michael and Mary Austin Crofts have been fielding calls about lost sheep all through the fall. Thus it was that they got another call from Lava Lake Ranch Owner Brian Bean last weekend.

Lucy, who got separated from the last band leaving the Wood River Valley, had been spotted near Boundary Campground just outside Sun Valley Resort so Michael and Crofts spent Saturday looking for her in that area. When they failed to find her, Crofts put signs out asking those who’d seen her to call. She also asked people to be on the lookout on Facebook and on a site of items for sale.

Cindy Hamlin joined the hunt on Sunday, hiking to three separate places in the area with hay.

Finally, someone called to say they’d seen Lucy hanging around the Sun Valley Stables.

 
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Calvin Chatfield and one of his assistants carry Lucy to Lili Simpson’s truck. PHOTO: Cindy Hamlin
 

“She probably smelled the hay,” said Hamlin.

Stablehands tried to catch her but she slipped through their fingers. But, after a few days without being sighted, she was spotted wandering around Sun Valley Village sniffing out the holiday decorations. When she got close to someone moving snow, Calvin Chatfield and his crew tackled her and put her up overnight in the stables.

Friday morning, Michael, Crofts and Hamlin showed up at Sun Valley’s Horseman’s Center, along with Lili Simpson who had volunteered a rope, her lassoing abilities and her truck with its shell.

“My grandfather raised sheep and cattle in Texas so I’ve been around sheep,” said Simpson. “This brings me full circle.”

 
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Lili Simpson exercises patience as Lucy checks out her new mates.
 

After Chatfield and his helpers carried Lucy to Simpson’s truck, Simpson drove slowly down the highway to Hamlin’s house north of Hailey, careful not to frighten the sheep. No ewe turns there.

The sheep didn’t seem in the least spooked. She raised her ears off and on, as if to decipher the fuss being made over her. And, as Simpson drove, she watched the scenery rolling by, then went to work grazing on the hay scattered on the floor.

“Easiest journey she’s ever had,” said Michael.

Once at Hamlin’s pasture, Lucy was in no hurry to jump out. She peered out the back door, checking out the barn and the snow on the ground. And, then, the welcome wagon—Hamlin’s three resident sheep arrived to check the newcomer out.

 
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Cindy Hamlin, Calvin Chatfield, Mary Austin Crofts and Sarah Michael take a breather from sheep herding duties at the Sun Valley Stables.
 

Eunice, the biggest and boldest, poked her nose up to Lucy’s. Then they began to break bread together—well, at least hay—as Lucy took a mouthful of hay and Eunice grabbed some off the truck floor, as well.

This went on for about 10 minutes.

When Lucy did finally decide to jump out, it was in the blink of an eye. She circled the pasture, meeting Eunice nose to nose in the center. They nuzzled. Then Lucy trotted over to the other two sheep to make their acquaintance.

Her wool had already been shorn, but she didn’t shiver in the 20-degree temperature. By nighttime, Hamlin said, she would take her place in the barn out of the wind with the other girls.

“They’ll snuggle in the bedding and be just fine,” she said.

Just shows that all’s wool that ends wool.

This isn’t Cindy Hamlin’s first sheep rescue. Her first took place four years ago after having pastured llamas for 38 years at her home. She took in Madeline when she was just a week old in April 2016.

A woman who had taken Hamlin’s Llama 4H class when she was young and went on to become a vet, had been given three bum lambs that she couldn’t keep as she was staying with her mother in Bigwood so she asked Hamlin if she was interested.

“She said not to worry if they didn’t survive, as two of them were triplets and didn’t have a good chance of making it,” Hamlin recounted.

The two triplets didn’t make it but Madeline survived with Hamlin’s robust bottle feeding and quickly became part of the Hamlin’s llama family.

When the aging llamas passed away the following year, Hamlin went looking for a companion to her lonely ewe. She found Eunice, an increasingly rambunctious young sheep who lived with Ketchum Ranger Renee Catherin.

“Rene’s 90-year-old mother lived with her and Eunice was jumping on the couch and coffee table and so Renee brought Eunice to me in the back seat of her little sedan, along with her mother and two dogs,” Hamlin recounted. “She opened the car door and out jumped her Great Pyrenees and a diapered sheep.

“Madeline was not quite sure what was going on and was, frankly, terrified when Eunice chased her around the pasture and wouldn’t leave her alone. But, by morning, they were in the barn side by side and they haven’t left each other’s sides since.”

In September Hamlin heard a little lamb had been hanging out in a nearby neighborhood for five days--abandoned, alone and frightened. She walked up to the lamb with Eunice and, as soon as the lamb saw Eunice, she bolted towards her and followed them home.

“She’s a feisty little girl. But she’s madly in love with Eunice, her surrogate mother, whom she follows everywhere,” Hamlin said. “We’re contemplating what to name her but are leaning towards either Betty, Hattie or Bee.”

The fourth sheep rescue involved an old ewe who was left behind in Ketchum the last week of October. A kindly couple spotted her and somehow enticed her out of the cold into the lobby of the Sockeye Building.

Bean and two helpers caught her the next morning.

“They brought her to me--skinny, shivering and cold,” said Hamlin who wrapped the sheep in a down vest and named her Peeps because she was so quiet. “She spent a week with us. But then the owners of a sheep rescue in Parma came to get her because I was afraid she wouldn’t make it in our cold.”

Stories like these show how it’s possible for people and animals to co-exist with livestock and wolves, said Michael, whose Wood River Wolf Project tests non-lethal measures to promote the coexistence of wolves and livestock.

“Mary and I started out on the idea of co-existence 20 years ago when we worked on a pact enabling backcountry skiers and snowmobilers to co-exist. Now this.”

 

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