Tag Archives sheep

It’s the sheep’s fault – accidentally working on my day off.


The wood was in the wrong place. Not that we urgently need it, but should the heating system fail again, we’ll want it. Someone therefore had to fill up the empty wood shelter close by the wood burner.

I worked two hours on Tuesday and three hours on Wednesday moving wood from one pile to the other pile with the help of the digger and my little electric car. No surprise my arms and back ached afterwards. Logs are heavy. However, there’s something intrinsically rewarding about building a log pile. You start with a few logs on the ground, and slowly it takes form until you end up with a neatly stacked pile. It’s taller than me.

As Grand-mère and Grand-père were very grateful for all my hard work, today was pronounced as a day off (with the sole exception of feeding the animals, a task which Grand-père offered to help out with).

Because everything I own is already covered in sawdust, I was wearing a skirt and leggings.

It was raining. And due to a mixture of laziness and stupidity, half the sheep escaped into the neighbouring field. Whilst counting the sheep that remained, Grand-père realised that he was standing over one young boy and I was standing over the other. This was a great opportunity to separate the young boys from the herd. Five minutes later I’m hauling a wet, heavy lamb across the field by its forelegs.

The escapee herd wandered of their own accord through the gate of the next field which is prepared for sheep. So we followed with the two young boys in the trailer, Grand-père in the tractor and me riding cross-legged perched on the tractor wheel as if going side-saddle with my foot out of the door. We pulled close the gate.

Life here never fails to entertain.

The morning dawns in rural France

Mon petit mouton

We start with a bowl of coffee. Mine’s black. The children, even the littlest, have milk with just a splash of coffee, it’s off-white but sweet. The grands-parents* drink theirs with milk and sugar.  I spread the jam on my bread with a teaspoon, and balance it precariously on my saucer. This is apparently how things happen here. Grand-mère dips her toast in her coffee, I don’t.

Once breakfast is cleared up, I let the chickens out the hen coop and check for eggs. Only one today. Grand-père checks his emails and then we start on clearing up the land after last night’s terrific storm. I drag the leaves from the swimming pool and we stash the ping pong table in one of the barns before going to tend to the vegetables. The tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and courgettes need watering and those that are ripe need picking. I conduct a taste test as I go along.

We drive out to go check on the sheep and give them a couple of buckets of grain, moving branches that have fallen in the storm on the way. In the field one sheep stands separate from the herd, and in the charge for dinner, she falls down. Grand-père is quick to pounce and pull her aside. He’s worried.

I drive back in the little electric vehicle we use for getting around the estate, Grand-père sits beside me clutching the sheep. I try, and fail, to avoid the worst of the bumps in the ever so bumpy road.

Back near the house, I take hold of the sheep whilst Grand-père prepares some antibiotics. She’s only four months old. I hold her upright  whilst he injects her with the medicine, hoping we’ve been quick enough. Her head lolls against my knee. Sheep, Grand-père says, die easily. He’s known them to catch fevers, to drown, and almost impossibly, to hang themselves by getting one of the pieces of string that tie up the hay bales stuck around their throat and then jumping off a rock.

We take her down to the woodland, where the male sheep are living, and guide her into an enclosure beside the boys. We want her to be safe from them, but not alone. She needs keeping close to the house so that we can keep an eye on her, but she still needs the company of other sheep. Loneliness and depression kill.

Back at the barn we collect more grain and a bucket of water to take to the lamb. This done we go in search of a suitable shelter in case there’s rain, finding at last a plastic wendy-house that the children have deserted. It’s the perfect size and fits on the back of the little electric car. I shove hay inside to made the lamb a cosy bed.

This done, we pick figs for dinner before taking another drive to go check on the donkeys and the goats. Perhaps goats aren’t fussy eaters, but these goats have no chance at getting the stale bread. Watching the donkeys chasing away the goats I realise I have significantly underestimated their ferocity.

And only then is it lunch time.

*Not mine.