‘Ewe’ can do it: Citizens rescue loose sheep on the St. Croix

Escaped animal leads Marine on St. Croix residents on chase around town and into the river.




3 minute read

Gayle Knutson is co-host of River Radio.

Thursday, April 25 was a typical day at Marine Village School, until a sheep escaped from the herding demonstration sponsored by the Marine Mills Folk School. The sheep, with tag number 0394 (but let’s just call her Herbie) ended up on a nearby hobby farm owned by our neighbor, Jeanne.

My phone rang. “You won’t believe this!” said Jeanne, “But I have a stray sheep in front of my barn!” “OH BOY!” I thought. “Another wild and wacky day in Marine!”

I jumped in the truck and took the back way to Jeanne’s via the school playground where I suddenly noticed kids, teachers, two sheep and a herding dog. “You missing a sheep?” I yelled. “Yup,” said the shepherd (Dan Reuter, owner of Koru Farms in Sunrise), who was just starting his herding demo for the kids — sans one sheep.

“If you can, will you catch him for me?” No problem, thought I, with only 15 minutes of previous sheep experience at a petting zoo.

Well! Let me tell you! That was the quickest ball of wool I have ever seen! I thought I had her with a pail of treats, but when Herbie eyed the rope in my other hand, she made sure to stay two rope-lengths away.

Help finally arrived in a white city truck: Marine’s own city workers, Tommy and Rob. We all pretended to be Border Collies covering the right and left flanks, but when I heard Herbie laugh as she dodged us all, I knew we were in for a long afternoon.

The last we saw, Herbie was off to William O’Brien State Park …still laughing.

Then came a text on my cell saying 911 had been called. “Sheep on Hwy 95!” it read.

A little while later a Facebook notification popped up. “Sheep on Crunchberry Island on the St. Croix River!” So, I grabbed our boat key and headed for the river to see if I could spot Herbie on that small island behind the Marine General Store.

Sure enough, a wee white ball of wool was standing there, still laughing. I needed help, so I went up to the Marine Village Hall where Mayor Kevin Nyenhuis happily enlisted to help with the rescue.

Now, here’s where it gets good. Kevin and I jumped on my boat and motored over to Crunchberry where I dropped him off to smooth-talk Herbie (as only a politician can do) into a pontoon ride to safety.

It looked something like this: Herbie walked north on the island while Kevin (smooth-talking) walked north after Herbie. Then Herbie walked south on the island with Kevin walking south after Herbie (still smooth-talking).

Out of sight, I suddenly heard Kevin yell and knew that Herbie had taken the plunge……again!

I motored over and picked up Kevin while Herbie rapidly swam the breast stroke, at lightning speed, for shore. But poor Herbie finally ran out of steam when she couldn’t get past the tree roots in the river. A little boat maneuver, a smooth lasso move by Kevin, and Herbie was safely brought to shore. The owner was called and all was well in Marine once again.

Herbie is home now. And still laughing. I’m sure.



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4 responses to “‘Ewe’ can do it: Citizens rescue loose sheep on the St. Croix”

  1. Ann Turner Avatar
    Ann Turner

    That is hilarious…great writing

  2. Peg Audley Avatar
    Peg Audley

    I love this camaraderie to save a rogue ewe! Great story

  3. Irene Qualters Avatar
    Irene Qualters

    wonderful storytelling

  4. Marty Harding Avatar
    Marty Harding

    So funny! Anyone who has been around sheep for any length of time can relate to this story. They can be devious as goats, but not so smart. As an Iowa farm kid, I raised sheep and would race them to the barn, stopping just short of the door. Mars, Saturn, Venus and Pluto would charge past me, caught again….night after night. Then my Mom took over when I wasn’t around; she didn’t know the drill so when they charged past her they trampled her feet. And that was the last of those planets.



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‘Ewe’ can do it: Citizens rescue loose sheep on the St. Croix