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05-26-2005, 10:47 PM
http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1045256.ece

Lost sheep saves farmer's life

A sheep who disappeared while grazing in the Norwegian mountains three years ago suddenly reappeared last weekend. Not only that, she promptly saved the life of a local farmer, and now her owner will spare hers.
http://cache.aftenposten.no/multimedia/archive/00229/_M03Sau1310_jpg_229449h.jpg
It's common for sheep in Norway to roam under open grazing in the summer.
PHOTO: ROLF HMAN

The woolly tale began when the sheep, called Helvetesrypa (Hell's grouse), was sent with the rest of her flock up to the mountains in the summer of 2001. It's common for Norwegian sheep ranchers to release their flocks for open summer grazing.

The rest of Helvetesrypa's flock was eventually rounded up at the end of that summer, but she wasn't found. On Saturday, sheep rancher Arne Toralf Mjanger spotted her in Stordalen, western Norway.

Her wool had grown to a length of around 40 centimeters. "With all that grey wool, the sow looked mostly like a large grey rock," Mjanger told Bergen web site www.bt.no (http://www.bt.no).

Mjanger, aided by his sheepdog Iris, whistled to the sheep and eventually got her roped up. Suddenly, however, he slipped on a stone and fell into a river. He kept hanging on to the rope, and the sheep stood steadfast, so Mjanger didn't disappear downstream himself.

When he finally got back on his feet, Mjanger then redelivered the sheep to her owners, Turid and Magnar Austrheim. "This is like winning the lottery," they told bt.no.

The sheep ended up well off, too. The Austrheims decided that after surviving three years on her own in the wild, and then saving Mjanger, she deserved to avoid the slaughterhouse.