Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Today the sheep came up back on the hill.

Today the sheep came back up the hill. Farmer Andrew from over Burrington came up with his mum, his son Seth, and Drizzle the dog. I closed my gate so that the sheep did not have the option of getting lost among the bits and pieces on my land, and they closed the lane with their car. I went up the top of the path to the woods, and Andrew opened the gate to the Hill, the same 5-bar gate that Vegger famously jumped in his younger days.

Seth was 3 years old, but like many farmers' boys, he was very grounded and grown up. He went back down to the road with his dad to fetch the sheep.

Drizzle and I sat on the path and waited. He was on a proper bit of balin twine, organic, not the polypropylene stuff that has taken over. Like Seth, he was very confident and open, nuzzling under my arm, and leaning against me the way dogs do when they're with a friend. He wasn't any sheepdog breed that I recognised, and was in training. His boss dog had had an accident and lost a leg. The boss dog would have stayed put on the forest path to block it, but Drizzle would have wandered off after a bit. So I was proud to have a role.

Drizzle and I sat down and waited, looking at the trees. I noticed a very straight oak tree, maybe about thirty years old, that I had not noticed before. Drizzle was panting very fast indeed, but stopped panting as soon as he smelt the sheep coming.

They rattled up the hill, flowing up the path, like a Severn Bore on 120 legs. There is something exciting about a flock running. They looked good and healthy, all sporting a recent No 1 haircut, so they were feeling light and skippy. None of them tried for our forest path, but some did try to corral themselves in a corner of the fence, only going through the gate when they realised they were going to get left behind.

They are a cross between the Shetland sheep that were up here last year, and another Highland sheep that puts on more weight, I think from Teasca (Texa). They had come over from Burrington by car. Andrew sometimes drives them in the old way, on foot, but there is a problem with motorists who do not understand that the best thing to do if you find a road full of sheep is to turn your engine off, and enjoy the pageant of the countryside.

John Woolman liked sheep. They are not as stupid as people think. They are very smart at getting out of where they are supposed to be, but they do have a tendency to delegate authority to others, which can result in stupid behaviour. Just like us.


Anonymous said...

A sweeping rebuttal of The Spirit Level:-

and they link to a pdf report they have produced.
I haven't read it yet,though.


Anonymous said...

Hi JMac
Thanks for the link, I have begun to read Saunder's critique, but the sun keeps calling me outside to play.

In the interim, here is Wilkinson's response to Saunders.