Some years ago I used to have a small-holding which I ran along side my normal day job. This was a great thing as it meant we were surrounded by animals, which as every young girl knows is the basic requirement of life. In all there were about fifteen chickens, six cats, two horses and twenty sheep. Needless to say, the sheep were the most demanding species on the farm and required skill and concentration to be managed successfully. Given my skillset this was a problem, but where there’s a will etc.
On a regular basis we had to trim their coats and nails so they could live comfortably and look presentable for any visitors. We mustn’t forget Sid the ram, of course. He didn’t care about looks but could certainly give you a nasty butt if you didn’t watch your back.
The field, which was their current home, was of a decent size with an open fronted barn on one end and a fence on the left, on the other side of which was a track used by the local farmer. Being a professional, he viewed my cheery lack of knowledge with bewilderment but was otherwise friendly. Come the day for nail trimming and I gathered my three girls, age between six and ten to act as sheep dogs. The idea was to guide the sheep calmly into the barn so we could proceed with our task in its pleasant shade. All seemed to be going well and the girls, helped by me, slowly moved the sheep towards their enclosure. Just as this task seemed complete all hell broke loose and the sheep suddenly scattered, leaving my girls running for their lives and me growling with frustration.
For reasons which have not yet been fully explained, I decided this was too much and I dived at a passing member of the flock, determined that at least one of them would bow to my will. I landed on the sheep’s back with my arms around its neck and, without discussing it further, the sheep set off across the field, with me riding it until we reached the furthest fence. As we were moving I slowly started to slid off its back but clung on with grim determination. Finally I slid right round till I was lying on the grass, still clinging to its neck, and now peering into it’s eyes.
The eyes were oddly intelligent, with a touch of patience surprising in the circumstances. They were large and brown and seemed to be saying, “You don’t really know what you’re doing do you. “You couldn’t disagree with that. As I pondered this moment I heard a tractor on the other side of the fence. Sitting on it was the local farmer, looking straight at me and just shaking his head. It seemed both the sheep and the farmer shared a common opinion of my skills. Still, it was fun and you can’t impress everybody.