Early in April - when spring was still battling winter for dominance - before my son and my sister and her husband came to visit - before the entire desert turned into an amazingly green landscape of grasses and wild flowers - the sheep appeared suddenly on the landscape.
The sheep graze on BLM land behind Atomic City for about a month every spring, and for a few weeks we are mesmerized by the sights and sounds of hundreds of animals.
White dots in the desert as far as the eye can see.
Adults and their offspring wandering and grazing in noisy and energetic oblivion.
As we do every spring we drove by them, watching them, enjoying them, photographing them, pleased as always that they had made their reappearance.........................
For the month or so that the sheep are here, we never know exactly where we will find them.
The Peruvian sheep herders (who seem to spend more time in their wagon than they do with the sheep, who speak almost no English, and who drive into town occasionally in search of beer) move the herd every few days.
Sometimes the sheep are closer to the Twin Buttes. Sometimes close to the highway. Sometimes out by Cedar Butte. Sometimes close to town.
Last year we had sheep grazing on residents lawns.
They had simply followed the food and followed their mouths, and we drove around town enjoying the site of small families of sheep that had happily wandered off course.
A couple of years ago we were the shepherds, and used the truck and a lot of noise to shoo a lost young lamb back to the herd.
Taking a lost little lamb home.
Although we have to watch Kory more closely, we greatly enjoy this annual event.
A quiet, sweet adventure for this tiny town in the desert where very little ever happens.................
Click on any picture to begin a slide show of enlarged pictures................
After slowly driving the trail and enjoying the site of the sheep, we slowly wandered up onto higher ground.
There were sheep everywhere - in front of us, behind us, on BLM land to the left and right of the trail.................
At the top of the hill we saw that the babies were happily playing King Of The Castle with each other.
Climbing up onto hay bay towers and rock pile hills, all of them jostling for dominance at the highest point before energetically jumping down to the ground.
Only to be replaced by a different King.
All very fun to watch.....................
As much fun as it was to watch the sheep (and the occasional goats), I did not feel the same way about the horse.
This is the same horse that we have seen for the past 3 years in a row.
He is a beautiful paint.
A strong, mellow, beautiful animal, that is almost always tied to something in order to keep him close to the sheep herders wagon.
He stands in one place, hour after hour, day after day, here behind Atomic City and then wherever the herd moves to next, after it is done with our desert.
He has no shade and no shelter.
Does he ever have the chance to run free?
I don't know.
He is so beautiful.
I hope that he does..................
More happy baby sheep and goats, playing and climbing together...................
The adult Pyrenees dogs of previous years were gone.
In their place was this young Pyrenees and one other, who paid us little attention as we slowly passed by.................
A month after they suddenly appeared on the desert landscape, one day we walked out into the back yard and realized that the baaaing that we had heard in the distance almost non-stop for weeks had stopped.
As they do every year, the sheep had disappeared just as quietly, quickly and mysteriously as they had appeared.
That was alright.
They'd be back again next spring..................