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In the summer of 2004 sheep in the UK’s Yorkshire rallied against their keepers. Sheep are not as imbecilic as generally credited—close, but not quite. I imagine that one day in early spring a group particularly non-conciliatory, escape-driven sheep where forced together into a camp special for escape artists where they were meant to stay, but instead of languishing at the unassailable cattle grids designed to keep them constrained to their appointed pastures, the sheep rallied, and planned a great escape.

The knavish sheep walked right up to the metal, hoof-proof grids, laid on their sides, and rolled their way across 3 meters of metal to freedom.

With that brilliant (for a sheep) plan, they were free, roving the countryside seeking ways out of Nazi-occupied Europe—no, that was a movie—they were free to wander down to the nearby villages and feast on the buffets that the residents called gardens.

And just as a hero-sheep should be, they were utterly fearless. They ignored men trying to shoo them, and a hearty whack with a housewife’s broom didn’t stir them to go very far. Even dogs were set upon the beasts, but were spurned in favor of the tasty but forbidden vegetables and flowers they feasted upon.

One resident told the BBC that “It is soul destroying.”

The first mistake in dealing with the escape was to round up the escapees and put them back in the enclosure. They remembered their means of egress, and simply did so again, and in so doing, taught others the procedure of escape. Not unlike the Nazis in the movie, the residents grew tired of fighting to contain their crafty allies over and over again. I don’t know if they got the idea from the movie, or if it was mere coincidence, but the sheep were dealt with the same way as the heroes from the movie: the offenders were shot. But such harsh recriminations weren’t able to stop the deluge. The sheep just kept on coming. Unwilling to pay for robot sentries or upgraded, redesigned cattle guards, they resorted to the only means available of saving their gardens: they destroyed the entire herd, and thus culled the knowledge from sheepdom.

For now, gardens are safe, but it cannot last. Victor Hugo wrote that “No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.” Maybe its time to start investing in those robot sentries to protect us from soul-destroying sheep.

Update: It seems that we were misinformed… the sheep were not destroyed after all.

Related links:
BBC Article