Visiting the agricultural show last week took me back to the time we spent renting a cottage on a sheep farm.
Mike was working some distance away, a ninety minute trip through rush hour traffic. By the time he got home he needed to chill out, so we’d got into the habit of going for a walk over the fields. Our route took us across the farm to the pig house on the far side. After a while we took on the job of the pigs’ evening feed, as we were passing. You can read about those adventures here and here.
On one particular evening it was raining. We took an umbrella. It must have looked a bit odd. No-one else on the farm would have been seen dead with an umbrella but for us the trip was about relaxation and enjoyment, not getting soaked, and so it was deemed a necessity.
We’d got about half the way up to the pig house when a rustling in the grass made me turn around. The ewes were behind us, stretched out in a long line. Which was odd. Previously when we’d walked through their field they’d run away. We had stopped so they had stopped. We walked on a little further. So did they. We stopped again. The sheep stopped too. And the line was getting longer. More sheep were joining in all the time. The Pied Piper had nothing on us.
At the top end of the field lay a gate. We negotiated our way through, trying to keep hold of the umbrella and at the same time restrain the sheep who seemed adamant they were coming too. With much pushing and shoving, the gate finally shut.
The ewes were clearly unimpressed. Can anger be expressed through the medium of a bleat? It most definitely can. The gate rattled on its hinges as it was repeatedly rammed. I looked back anxiously toward the farm to see if anyone had heard. Umbrella pulled down, collars turned up, we continued on our way. It might be prudent to find another way back.
It was some days later that we crossed paths with the shepherd. He listened intently to our tale. “What colour was it, the umbrella?”
He pointed to the bags of sheep mix, neatly stacked in the corner of the barn. A grin spread across his face.
“When I go up the field I carry one or two of those on my shoulder… They’d have thought you were going to feed them.”