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The Call of the Sheep


We’ve all slept through an early morning alarm and missed a meeting or two. A small reprimand from your boss is one thing; having 1,300 sheep run at their liberty down city streets because you slept in is another. A snoozing shepherd in Spain didn’t notice that his flock took off in the middle of the night. The ovines were due to leave at 7 a.m. to continue their long walk to the mountain pastures of the Pyrenees to graze for the summer, so we can’t really blame them. Maybe they weren’t ready to reveal their summer bodies.

The Telegraph reports that around 4:30 in the morning, a local spotted hundreds upon hundreds of sheep running through the small city of Huesca in the north-eastern province of Aragon. Police woke up the shepherd, who was able to corral them back into formation to follow the ancient herding routes, known as the cañada real. As part of the tradition of transhumancia (or transhumance) which has been revitalized in the last few decades, shepherds and their flocks often trek over 40 miles and climb thousands of feet with the help of family and friends. (Click here to check out our photo essay of transhumance on the French side of the Pyrenees!) The route passes through Huesca yearly, but normally the sheep stay far away from the main streets.

If you are having a hard time imaging what these wooly guys look like running wild, take a look at these clips from the Huesca police:

Herding sheep might sound a little old school/biblical, but it’s still a common practice in Spain. There’s even an entire school where, you too, can learn the ropes of herding. Some of the best Spanish, French, and Basque cheeses are the product of this practice, like the beautifully buttery Zamorano, so we need all of the shepherds we can get.

Feature Photo Credit: Martin Castellan

Becca McGilloway

Becca McGilloway is currently a senior at Emerson College studying Writing, Literature, and Publishing. When she isn't on the hunt for the latest cheese-permeated vegetarian recipe on Pinterest, she's probably binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.