The sheep were on the Ups and Downs again this morning. This is a field of ancient grassland, grazed by cows in the summer and otherwise left as it has been for centuries. That is, at times in the last few hundred years, some gravel has been dug out, which is why it is up-and-down rather than flat, but it’s never been cultivated. In maps, it is labelled as ‘Saxon earthworks’ or ‘Saxon burial ground’ – no one really knows.
It’s poor land, sand over gravel, and it’s grazed by a few cows in the summer until it browns off in July or August – not that it did last year, as it rained for weeks and the grass never did go dormant. But it it were overgrazed, it would take some time to recover. That’s why we weren’t best pleased to see a couple of hundred sheep relaxedly chomping again this morning. The Sage rang the owner of the sheep – the field they had been on didn’t have enough grass, so they’d explored a bit. He said he’d be along later in the day. We went out to ask the sheep to go across the stream, into our other field which is rather more robust.
Sheep are so lovely. They were quite docile and good-natured. The other day, the Sage had moved them alone, apart from the assistance of Tilly who, asked politely, stood near the gate where we didn’t want them to go. This time, I strolled to the further end of the field and then walked towards them; they moved away from me and gathered in a flock and then paused to see where we wanted them to go next. The Sage indicated, and they went. They waited courteously at the ford for their turn.
Later, indoors, Tilly barked. I went out to see why, and found young Jack, whose parents run the village pub, at the door looking embarrassed, with his two dogs on leads. Unfortunately, one of them, while running loose, had dashed across the field, torn at a chicken coop and killed our cockerel. He came at once to tell us and apologise. What can you say? – we thanked him for coming over. It took some courage. Easy for a lad to call the dog, act as if he hadn’t seen what happened and go home. I know the dogs are well behaved normally.