Postcards from the Hedge (February 21)
Not waving but drowning.
The other morning I was out early giving my very spoilt sheep breakfast. I looked across my field to my neighbour’s and saw something white in the middle of their field seemingly not moving and all on its own but I was too far away to make out what it was. They too have a few sheep and a Shetland pony. I went to investigate. I could see a bit of black amid the white and at first thought it was the pony, then thought maybe it was two sheep lying back to back. As I got closer I realized it was just one big sheep on its back, waving a foreleg in the air. If sheep roll on their backs they are unlikely to be able to get up again. They get completely stuck upside down and die very quickly. I climbed over the fences and hurried to it. It was foaming at the nose and mouth and gurgling dreadfully. Thankfully he didn’t fight me and I managed to push him onto his side, then onto his belly. He wasn’t able to stand and just lay there. I dashed to tell my neighbour what had happened, adding that I didn’t know if I had managed to get to him in time. When we got back to the field he was mercifully on his feet and walking, rather unsteadily, towards his companions, still frothing at the mouth and nose. Hopefully he’ll survive. So if you ever see a sheep on its back, feet in the air try and help it. It’s not waving, it’s drowning.