There’s a baad man on the loose in our neighbourhood.
He’s been stopping his truck at the end of our driveway to baa at our sheep. He did it twice this week and once the week before.
Maybe he’s doing it every day. Maybe multiple times a day — it’s hard to know for sure. It’s not like I’m outside all the time. To be fair it might not even be the same man. There are a lot of trucks that go by our place that look the same and it’s possible these were three separate incidents. But I doubt it.
For one thing the baaing sounds identical each time; very loud and very exuberant. I suppose if you’re going to take the time to stop your vehicle, roll down your window and talk to the animals it would be kind of silly to be subtle about it.
You’re probably not going to stop your truck, roll down the window, lean out and then whisper to the sheep. If you did, well frankly that would be a little creepy.
I don’t know what the neighbourhood baa man is saying in Sheepese but judging by the flock’s reaction it isn’t “Hey, how are yah?”
It must be something sinister because after listening to him they stop grazing or chewing their cud and head for the safety of their shelter at a trot. Maybe he’s telling them he just saw a pair of wolves with a recipe for lamb stew and a shopping list with their name on it. That’s the danger of mimicking a language you’re not fluent in. You have no idea what you might be saying.
Standing in my garden observing the exchange for the third time in two weeks I feel unreasonably irritated. I have an overwhelming urge to raise my hoe, shake it at the man and yell, “Hey you stupid idiot! Stop baaing at my sheep!” but who knows where that could lead? If I’ve learned anything in nearly half a century of living it’s that nothing good ever comes from losing your temper. Not ever.
It crosses my mind that it might be a neighbour. My eyesight is terrible and from my position in the garden it’s impossible to tell who is behind the wheel.
I know most of the vehicles that belong to the locals and the baa man’s truck isn’t familiar, but you never know. Nothing shuts a neighbour’s coffee pot off faster than rushing at them with a hoe while telling them they’re a stupid idiot. People are funny that way.
This is how harmless situations get out of hand. One person gets angry, the other gets defensive and before you know it hoes are being brandished, people are getting run over and just like that you’re headlining the evening news. s
I can see it now. “Woman dies in altercation defending sheep from verbal assault. Man claims self defence saying he simply stopped to share a couple baas when a crazy woman appeared out of nowhere and attacked him with a hoe.”
And hey, let’s face it.
There is something about the sight of farm animals in a pasture that make motorists want to speak their language. If I’m perfectly honest I’ll admit that I’ve even done it myself.
I’m willing to bet most of us have given in to the occasional drive by moo or baa at least once in our lives. Maybe we were kids and maybe we didn’t actually stop the vehicle and roll down the window, but it’s a rare soul who has never once given in to urge to talk to the animals.
One of my favourite Far Side cartoons captures this very phenomenon. It shows a group of humans standing on a lawn visiting while a carload of cows drive by.
The passenger cow leans out the window and yells, “Yackity yack, Yackity yack!” I still get a smile when I think of that cartoon.
If baaing at our sheep gives you a bit of joy and puts a smile on your face, then by all means baa away. You don’t need to fear my hoe. Goodness knows, we all can use more smiles in our life.
But if you stop your vehicle, roll down the window and baa so loud you scare the sheep you’re not doing it right.
You’re defying talk-to-the-animal etiquette. I bet you didn’t even know there was such a thing. It’s not something that comes up in a Dear Abby column. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Here it is. Baa with gusto. You can even wave if you like. But keep your vehicle moving and your windows rolled up. That way you don’t stress out the sheep — or their owner.
Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace Country. She can be reached for comment at email@example.com