Sheep To The Slaughter
Sheep To The Slaughter
Sheep are stupid! But I like them. Especially roasted and swimming in mint sauce. Fortunately the fields around us are slowly filling up again after the disaster and debacle of the Government’s stunning response to the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001. Almost every lamb and sheep in Cheshire was slaughtered and yet there was not a single confirmed case of the disease in the whole county. What a waste!
T and R, our most lawn proud neighbours, suffer really badly with moles. It is a real shame because they love their garden and nature in general. In the summer they live outdoors. They have a split-level pool cum fish pond where they encourage newts and frogs and discourage the herons it attracts. But, R is a big softy. He doesn’t like the thought of killing anything. So getting rid of the moles is a bit difficult. There are many myths about moles, you know. Rat poison doesn’t work – they can smell it and they avoid it. They just dig another hole. Moth balls don’t work for much the same reason. You can’t smoke or flood them out because their burrows are far too extensive – they just move out of the way, seek higher ground. There are really only two effective ways to kill them. You can go out at night, wait until you see a mound (mole hill) forming, wait till the little bugger pops his head up, and, whack him with a shovel. Or, you can use razor blades. Moles are haemophiliacs. Their blood doesn’t clot. If you push a razor blade into the run of a mole and they run over it, and cut themselves, they bleed to death…..
Moles can be trapped though, and relocated. But, you have to be very careful not to leave your scent on the trap. T approached me one day when R was still at work and asked me to lay a trap. I did. R subsequently sabotaged it by “checking” on it. He touched the trap. He knew what he was doing. He’s a really nice guy.
The Foot and Mouth outbreak finished off a number of the farmers around here. They are tenant farmers in the main. They do not own their own land or houses. So, when times are tough they have nothing to borrow against. I once helped a farmer-neighbour when his tractor caught fire at the height of Foot and Mouth. He cried. He wasn’t insured. He couldn’t afford the premium. He was losing a fortune at the time and thought that the cost of fixing the tractor would push them into bankruptcy. Several of the farms went under. Most are over-priced, poorly designed, badly decorated conversions now. Tis a shame.
But, we still have the moles. And the sheep are back. Sheep are stupid. Have you noticed that they stand in lines. They all look in the same direction. They stare. C says it might be a zen thing. I doubt it. It can be quite spooky when they all line up and stare at you. For no good reason. Spooky. And, it is rude to stare.
On one occasion C and I were walking across the fields to our local pub. At one point we found a sheep with its head stuck in a wire fence. Well stuck. It would seem that it had pushed its head through in an attempt to get at a bucket on the other side which had some kind of food stuff in it. The wire was beginning to cut into its neck. I tried to get it out. I pulled and I pulled. I tugged and I tugged. It budged not a bit. In the end we decided to fetch the farmer.
The farmer didn’t seem too happy when we caught up with him. He was just leaving in his Land Rover. Probably off to the pub, or out for Sunday lunch somewhere. We watched him trudge across the field. He found the sheep. He climbed over the fence and he moved the bucket further away. The sheep, realising that there was no way it could get at the food, simply reversed. It backed out, shook its head and rejoined the flock. The farmer shook his head and probably muttered something like “bloody townies”. Sheep are stupid? I was only trying to help….