Angus and Agnes MacDonald
had a croft in the Highlands of Scotland. In the back of their house, they
grew leafy green cabbages, firm, purple potatoes, and crisp turnips. Agnes
took care of the vegetable garden and Angus took care of the sheep. There
were fifteen fluffy sheep, covered with thick white wool. There wasn’t
room enough inside the croft to keep all the sheep at night, so they had
to sleep outside. It was very cold at night in the Highlands, so the sheep
wandered away, looking for a place to lie down and huddle together,
usually in the woods. There was bracken, fern, and pine needles that were
soft. When Angus got up the next morning, the sheep had scattered about to
find something to eat, and he would have to search for them, even if it
was raining, snowing or bitter cold.
One night he herded the
sheep up near the croft. He looked at the moon. It was bright and full,
and had a huge ring around it; that meant a storm was coming. Angus didn’t
want to have to search for the sheep in the pounding rain, so he thought
of an idea. He walked about near the fence posts, gathering thistles. They
were prickly. He laid the plants in a big circle around the sheep. He
heard that this was a good way to keep the sheep in place, but in morning,
all the sheep were gone. They had eaten the thistle. He had to go out in
the pelting rain and gather them up. He was soaked and chilled to the
Another time he bought ten
sheep dogs. He tied them up to wooden posts set up around the sheep, but
in morning, the sheep were gone and the dogs were sleeping. He had to
gather the sheep. It was a very cold morning and he caught the sniffles
from being outside for so long.
One night it started to
snow. It was a blizzard with huge snowflakes and howling icy wind. Angus
took a thick rope and tied all the sheep’s short, stubby tails together,
and then he tied the rope to a rowan tree. He pulled on the rope to make
sure it was tight and went to bed. In the morning, he yawned and went to
the window. There was snow all over the ground. Angus struggled to look
for the sheep, but saw they were gone and all that was there was the rope.
He looked at the rowan tree. There were no berries or leaves on it. The
sheep had eaten them.
Angus had many ideas but
none of them seemed to work. He even dug a moat around the sheep and
filled it with water from the stream, but in the morning the sheep were
gone. He’d forgotten sheep could leap. Finally, he gave up. What else
could he do?
The next morning he woke
up. He heard the wind howling and the rain beating down on the croft. He
dreaded having to go out to find the sheep. He looked over at Agnes. She
was warm and cozy and sound asleep. He stretched and sat up in bed. He
couldn’t move his legs. There was a sheep sleeping across them. He looked
about the room. There were sheep everywhere, on the floor, on the chair
next to the fireplace and even on the nightstand. He pushed his way
through the room; hearing soft baas as he accidentally stepped on one of
the sheep’s foot. There were sheep in the kitchen and in the living room.
He stumbled back to the bed and shook his wife. She sat up and smiled. She
had brought the sheep in for the night. Angus wasn’t happy having sheep
all over the house, but when the cold wind rattled the windowpane, he was
glad he didn’t have to outside and round them up.