There was a lot of noise coming from down by the lake at a time of day when the girls are usually relaxing, chewing in the shade. So I wandered down and I found two ewes on the wrong side of the fence in an area which is usually underwater and is full of reeds, willow, alder and birch. I have no idea how they got there though it is possible that they walked around the fence in the lake as the water level is so low. Alternatively they could have climbed up the fence to reach overhanging willow branches and then crashed down on top of it. Then again, maybe they crawled underneath but, as far as I know, only two of them have mastered that technique. Of the two who had escaped, one is a very large skittish ewe and I know for sure that I will not be able to catch her and/or lift her back over the fence.
The smaller escapee was easier to catch and I lifted her back. Then I called Peter who was at work, at lunch.
P thought that I could leave the ewe and she would find her own way back but I didn't think she would figure out the itinerary so we decided to cut the fence. I walked back to the garage to look for cutters and also grabbed a free-standing fencing panel. When I got back down the lake, another ewe had found her way out.
I cut the fence next to one of the posts and rolled back the fencing to create an opening. I then attached the fence panel making temporary hinges out of rope. Luckily it was a perfect fit. While chasing the sheep I noticed that they always ran along the fence never venturing far away from the others (who are all watching with great curiosity, as only sheep do). So I pushed the gate out at right angles to the fence and then using a long stick I coaxed them along the fence and they slipped neatly back into the field. Well, that was easier than expected!