National Geographic : 1952 Apr
550 On Provence's Busy Napoleon Road, Sheep Almost Meet Their Waterloo Blaring horns caused a stampede; frightened animals surged around cars like a sea of wool. Motorists angrily tried to keep sheep off cars. The flock's six dogs, occasionally leaping on fenders to survey the scene, finally calmed and reorganized their charges. The author and photographer helped restore order (page 560). coffee was boiling. While we drank cups of the strong, scalding beverage and devoured rashers of bacon with half a loaf, polenta was cooked for the dogs. Ravenously they de voured the thick, yellowish mush. Without bothering to spread our sleeping bags, photog rapher Coen and I were soon asleep. Bicycle Hunt for a Pasture When I awoke, the sun was high. Jean was untying leather thongs that bound a bicycle to the side of his wagon. He was about to look for a suitable meadow for his voracious charges. I accompanied him on my own bicycle (page 547). No doubt during the night the sheep had snatched a few blades of grass en route, but this impromptu meal was not nearly enough. Their stomachs were almost empty. After we had pedaled several miles, a farmer waved us to a halt. He led us to a lush clover meadow that seemed to me just the thing. It was cheap, too, the owner claimed: only the equivalent of $30 for all the clover of this matchless meadow where our animals could have their fill. How wrong I was! This meadow was not worth a sou, I found. With the condescen sion of a grownup explaining a most obvious thing to a child, Jean told me that the ani mals were getting hotter and hotter and that such green stuff, still full of water, would be bound to give them colic. I certainly wouldn't have picked out the dry and seemingly blighted meadow Jean finally chose. But its withered grass, ideal for a flock with a long trek ahead, had the right nutri tion value. We pedaled back to the flock, and Jean signaled it to get going. The village constable suspiciously accompanied us to keep a close watch over our animals' moves. In an ever changing pattern the sheep would scatter and then line up for a while in single file, accord ing to their fancy. But straying must be pre vented at all costs. The law was watching!