She stood in the stall in anticipation of the face-off to come, steadying her breathing, knowing she would need every advantage against her adversary. Her friends and flockmates had abandoned her only moments before, escaping through the half-door that always stood open — now still open, but blocked. Jypsi was trapped, and she knew it.
Still hoping for an escape route, she slowly scanned the stall, shifted her eyes back towards the door opening, then locked eyes with her opponent. The shepherdess stood quietly in the doorway, making soft sounds meant to calm the moment, but Jypsi knew and would not be fooled so easily. The hay had already been put out and the shepherdess had left momentarily. The fact that she had quickly returned meant that she had something else to do — a member of the flock to catch. The fact that she now stood in the doorway to prevent Jypsi’s escape meant that the remaining sheep was the one: for whatever reason, the shepherdess wanted to catch Jypsi — and Jypsi would have none of it!
Like a well-conditioned athlete, she readied herself. Jypsi had learned from years of experience that there were only two ways to escape the shepherdess: going quickly around or going straight through. In this particular situation, going around was not an option. For such a thing to work, she needed the cover of the flock. Her flockmates were also her best weapon, but they had deserted her in her time of need. Now she stood alone, regulating her breathing and preparing for the other option: going through.
Going through was much higher risk, but in this case she had no other choice. Once again her eyes took in the situation to make sure there was no other escape. Perhaps another door left partially open — but no. She was alone to face her adversary. She had to go through.
As Jypsi once again looked over her opponent, she saw a small tuft of white fabric hanging from the shepherdess’ clothing. Aha, so that was what she wanted! Jypsi knew that something had changed in recent hours. She usually carried a covering over her beautiful wool, but when she had run through the barn earlier, it had caught on a corner and torn off. The shepherdess always carried new covers underneath her clothing to hide her intent. Did she not realize that Jypsi was smarter than that? Knowing what was coming made Jypsi even more determined — she hated to be touched by those human hands! No, she was going through. It was just a matter of choosing her moment.
Slowly Jypsi lowered her head to get into position, while the shepherdess continued to make those soft vocalizations. As Jypsi’s head went down, the shepherdess quieted and maneuvered herself well into the doorway. She could see that Jypsi had made the decision: there would be no calm submission this day. No, they both knew that Jypsi was a fighter — and she had chosen this day and this time to dig in and make her stand.
Each small twitch was mirrored by slight movement in the opponent. They stood in tense anticipation, and then with a deep breath, Jypsi charged forward with all her might, moving towards the door like a football lineman. She just had to get past the doorway — that was the goal — get past the doorway and she would be free!
As Jypsi reached the shepherdess, the battle of wills became a physical battle, legs locking, arms grabbing — but Jypsi pushed on. She had to get through the doorway to freedom! Pushing, pushing against her adversary, Jypsi slowed. But she was a big girl with a lot of weight behind her forward movement. The shepherdess had experience, but Jypsi had weight and momentum on her side, and that proved to be enough! Jypsi made it past the shepherdess and breathed a sigh of relief.
That sigh of relief came just a bit too soon, however. Little did Jypsi know that just outside the door and around the corner stood another human, the young “farm helper” who was also awaiting Jypsi’s escape. He was young and agile, and he knew enough about sheep to know that Jypsi would not suspect his presence in this game of wills. As Jypsi slowed in getting past the shepherdess, he scooped his hand under her chin and caught her head, holding her in place for the coat change.
As the panting shepherdess came forward with the fresh white coat, Jypsi locked eyes to express her dismay: this was not fair, not right! The contest was between the two of us, she seemed to say, and I won! Yet there Jypsi stood, now wearing her new coat. As she was released to rejoin the flock, she paused for a moment to make sure the shepherdess understood: she may have won this time, but Jypsi would bide her time. Next time, the farm helper likely wouldn’t be around — and then we’d see who would win. Just wait.