It’s a phone call I never enjoy. “Hello Alex, it’s (insert proper farmer’s name here) .. do you own (insert small number and a species of farm animal here)? They seem to be in my field/on the road/heading west (delete as appropriate).”
When the call came this morning, I leapt onto my bike and headed up the village with a bucket of nuts and a crook. And while I’m not always responsible for runaway livestock, I couldn’t escape the fact that these fugitives were our sheep. They have enjoyed a couple of weeks on holiday up the road with my brother but clearly decided it was time to head for home.
The proper farmer’s wife kindly offered a temporary field, but I was confident that simply doing my best to look like Bo Peep would be enough to lead them home. The sheep were not convinced and headed north into the farmer’s wife’s brother’s paddock (it’s that kind of village). Luckily he is a policeman so always ready for a high speed pursuit, and came armed with a lurcher as a stand-in sheepdog. His wife made a timely appearance on horseback, so we had all angles covered. Real shepherding could begin.
The good news: once out of the paddock and onto the road, they took a left turn towards home and trotted along smartly with me, the farmer’s wife, the farmer’s wife’s brother (now minus the lurcher but on a bicycle like a proper village copper) and the farmer’s wife’s brother wife in hot pursuit.
The bad news: after choosing correctly at the fork in the road, the rogue agents declined to turn into their own drive and headed for the next village.
It took the arrival of one more useful person in a car to persuade the sheep back home – panting heavily. (The sheep that is, not the person in the car).