Sheep. Just… Sheep.

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Picture sheep and what do you think of… fluffy, cute lambs, gambolling innocently in a spring fresh green field, perhaps accompanied by a bunny or two, symbol of Easter, and the renewal of Life. Or, picture this, a flock of gently milling sheep, woolly and harmless, dainty – hooved and baa-ing melodically as they are guided into place by a clever sheep dog…

Well, you’re wrong. In my opinion, sheep are evil, cunning and duplicitous… but I can see you’re all still taken in by those innocent, curly-wooled faces and soft round eyes… Let me go back a few (well, quite a few) years to my child hood.

As my regular readers may remember, my father was a vet, and in true James Herriot fashion, many a waif and stray ended up staying with our family for a while, some even becoming permanent residents, like our rabbit, Sorrel, rescued from a live meat market as I screamed and screamed for Daddy to save the pretty bunny from Watership Down…

One day, my father returned home with a small, sickly lamb. My mother, being a Northern country girl and well accustomed to sheep, took it tenderly from him and wrapped it in a towel, placing it carefully in front of the fire with our German Shepherd dog at the time, the benign and benevolent Nikki.

I came forward eagerly to greet the new arrival and hesitated… the lamb turned its head and gazed… malevolently… back at me. (I swear I heard the music from “The Omen” playing faintly somewhere…) I backed cautiously away… there was something about its smiling innocence that didn’t sit quite right…

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Oh, yes, little girl… this is MY house now!”

The little creature thrived and grew, boy, did she grow. Named Lindy, she quickly became part of the pack of dogs, thundering up and downstairs with them, barging into the bathroom while I was on the toilet… whatever I’m doing in the bathroom, to be honest, I don’t really care for an audience…

Charlie: “My God! What are you doing in the water bowl??”

Me: “Oh please, really, I’d get arrested if I did this in the garden and Daddy wouldn’t be too pleased…”

Lindy had her own special bed in the kitchen that she stayed in at night time as I screamed when she chased the cat into my bedroom and jumped on my bed. Believe me, my family beat the concept of “Babe” by a good few years with our dogsheep. She had no manners and would quite happily walk past the table and swipe your bread and butter, chase the cat, bite visitors…

My father was a little annoyed when the postman would no longer deliver to our house… he had to collect our letters from the main post office in town as the postman flatly refused to enter the garden after he’d been chased for the fourth time by the sheep… I liked that postman…

The cat and I spent a lot of time up the willow tree in our garden or barricaded in my bedroom. And Lindy grew. When she reached the dimensions of a small dining room table with a head like a boulder, hooves like four circles of Hell and a fleece of wire (I was allergic to her too) her residence with us was abruptly ended.

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My father had put up with her becoming my mother’s particular pet, guarding her and sitting on her lap, collecting the post from town and apologising to the neighbours on a regular basis as she (the sheep, not my mother) crashed through hedges and fences cartoon-style; but when she butted him off the edge of the raised patio and broke his ankle, he decided it was time for her to go.

And so she did. To a petting zoo, where there was a lonely male Jacob sheep… my parents visited her regularly, they were friends with the owner, and Lindy went on to produce many lambs and have a long and happy life.

My childhood peace was restored and though I am drawn to the undeniable cuteness of toy lambs, to this day I remain extremely wary of sheep…

Mummy, Lindy BIT me!!”

Don’t be stupid, Samantha, sheep don’t bite…”

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46 thoughts on “Sheep. Just… Sheep.

  1. Oh dear! Naughty sheep. There are sheep just down the road from my mum’s house and she says in the half hour or so before sunset they just go a bit bonkers and have a big old run around, as if they are using up their energy before bed. Or maybe they are in training for some sort of secret mission… Who knows?

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  2. Are you related to the Durrells at all?! It is amazing what becomes normal, sometimes, isn’t it? Good story. And I am with you that little lambs are quite cute, but big sheep are rather more intimidating. Ever come across a sheep with diarrhoea? That is not a pleasant sight. I went off wool for a bit, after that…

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      1. Before I decided to become a vegetarian, I did love lamb. An aunt of mine couldn’t stomach it, claiming that it tasted “wooly”!

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  3. What an amazing story! I was laughing and smiling the whole way through! There goes me thinking lambs are so cute and harmless but they only grow up to be big ol sheep. I can just picture the cartoon-style ramming through hedges and fences and what not right now! Hahaha xx

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  4. Haha, what a handful sheep! Thank goodness I live in a city where we can’t have sheep as pet, otherwise I might be fooled by that innocent lamb look and end up having to call you for help after it grows into a sheep. 😆

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  5. OH how lovely.. what a great tale and even though Lindy was a definitely not a ‘gentle little lamby’ .. it still sounds like a wonderful childhood.. And – it set you in good stead for dealing with ‘Lily’ – or maybe not seeing as you have to be rescued by your son…. Oh Oh .. Time to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ (or maybe not!!). I wonder who would’ve won the battle of Dolly (alias Gremlin) v Lindy… yikes! x

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      1. Well, I’m a city girl, though we always had horses (and dogs and cats). When I first encountered a sheep it was bigger that I’d thought…much bigger. I still call male sheep ‘goats’ (just can’t bloody remember -my vet has told me they are called something when intact and something else when castrated). But a flock of sheep can also be called ‘a mob’. And we know all the negative connotations! Coincidence? I don’t think so…

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      2. Ram, buck or tup…that’s with…and wether…that’s without. Funny how somethings stay with you although it’s highly unlikely I will ever need those terms again…I actually quite like goats. Far more civilised than your average mob of sheep…:)

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      3. yep, all these (immediately forgotten) 😉 I do like goats, they don’t stare at me ominously-they are friendly and amusing. And smelly…

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