Sheep surround a Gardiner police cruiser Wednesday after having escaped their enclosure at Oaklands Farm. Courtesy of Gardiner Police

GARDINER — Ashley LaVoie was having a cup of coffee early Wednesday when some activity on her front lawn caught her eye.

LaVoie, who lives on a dead-end street off Brunswick Avenue not far from downtown, is used to seeing turkeys or deer wander through her yard.

“I looked out by our mailbox and I see these little legs,” LaVoie said. “I was like: the baby deer and their mom must be out.”

But when she stood up to get a better look through the big bay window, she found a different animal had come to call, with about 90 of its friends.

“I was like: What is happening here,” she said.

A flock of sheep was wandering down Tilbury Park and were milling around her front yard. LaVoie estimated at least 40 sheep were outside, but a later count showed 91 sheep were milling around.


LaVoie woke her son and her fiancé to see the spectacle in the front yard.

At about that same time, Scott MacMaster, a Gardiner police officer, was turning down Tillbury Park after receiving a call about the errant sheep.

His first goal was to keep them from scattering and wandering up toward Brunswick Avenue, which is also Route 201 and heavily traveled.

MacMaster said he caught their attention by playing “Born this Way,” by Lady Gaga, as he and LaVoie’s son, Connor Stuck, tried to keep them all in one place.

“My son was in his glory,” LaVoie said. “He may become a sheep farmer.”

MacMaster said he was able to identify where they were from by their ear tags and called the farm to notify the farmer that the sheep were on the lam. He said he heard some cries from a sheep not far away and found a ewe and a lamb in a field that had become separated from the rest of the flock.


“I saw where there was a place I could untie the fence and the fence wasn’t hot,” he said.

At that point, he asked LaVoie for some dog kibble and a plastic dish to rattle it in to draw the sheep to lead them back to their pasture, when the farmers arrived.

Kristian Holbrook, the farmer and cheese maker at Oaklands Farm, where the sheep belong, knows his flock of East Friesian sheep and its ring leader, a sheep named Moe, who will exploit any opportunity to get out and let all the other sheep out, too.

Gardiner resident Ashley Lavoie found dozens of East Friesian sheep on her lawn Wednesday morning after they had escaped a nearby farm. Courtesy of Ashley LaVoie

“The fence is electrified by a solar charger, and sometimes when we get a solid day of rain the fence can get a little weak,” Holbrook said.

And when the sheep get bored, they want to check out a new place, he said, noting the flock had been in that field for about a week, and it was getting to be time to move them. That particular field is further from the home farm and so it was not immediately clear they were gone, he said.

It’s also possible that something spooked the flock, prompting them to take off, Holbrook said, but this escapade bears the hallmarks of a Moe-led caper.


By the time Holbrook arrived, MacMaster was already getting them to return to their field.

“Moe has a technique for getting under the fence or knocking it down, either way, depending on how he feels,” he said, characterizing Moe as a naughty teenager.

And when that happens, he said, the other sheep tend to follow to where the grass actually might be greener.

Holbrook said he’s pretty sure the sheep have not learned their lesson and will push their boundaries again. If they try going for a walkabout for the next little while, it won’t be with Moe leading the way. He’s earned a timeout in the barn.

LaVoie, a self-confessed animal lover, was not at all perturbed by the flock’s morning visit to her lawn.

“They mowed it, and they fertilized it,” she said.

The family has a cat and a Corgi that, as a herder, was pretty excited to see the sheep. But given the location of her house and the size of the yard, that’s likely to be the limit of pets.

But LaVoie offered up this warning if the sheep wander back her way.

“I will herd them and keep them on my yard and then fence my yard and then keep them,” she said. “Finders keepers!”

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