Friday, May 25, 2007

It might be a bit of a cliché, but do you ever feel like saying “stop the world, I just want to get off”? Well, I’m pleased to report that I did just that yesterday … and it was great, and I thoroughly recommend that you try it as well. When things are on my mind, they often stay on my mind far later in the evening than is creatively useful, leading to a restless nights sleep. I never have nightmares as such but I do stare at the ceiling in the early hours of the morning contemplating such sexy conundrums as how to construct stock fencing or curved borders for raised vegetable / flower beds. And whilst, in the greater design of our whole plot, I have lots more fencing to do, I have completed—that is to say, completely completed (hooray!)—the fencing in the back field, and built a sheep shelter in the middle, such that it can be used whichever half of the field we’ve got the sheep in at the time.

So, we borrowed a suitable trailer from neighbours Paul and Christiane and headed off to more central Brittany to see a Monsieur Le Bigot about a pair of ewes and their lambs. We were sorry to learn that one of the ewes had died and so only one ewe with her lamb was available to take away and we shall therefore make efforts to buy another ewe / lamb combination, or a weaned female lamb from somebody else, sometime later in the year. To avoid consanguinity—that is, to maintain genetic difference—we bought a ram from a different flock: “Dumpling” from Renée, who’s becoming a Ouessant sheep expert.

All the sheep are registered and have ear tags. We have completed transit papers and I’ve just telephoned the Etablissement départemental d’élevage to tell them that we have bought sheep for the first time and need to register as owners of these sheep. We will be given our own number that we will use to ear-tag any lambs that we’re lucky enough to raise next spring.

At the end of a long day, that had also involved bureau-cratic visits to the Centre des Impôts to submit our tax returns for this year and a visit to the health service to sort out some more paperwork, we went to check out our flock. After gazing together, happy and moist-eyed, at our new acquisitions (neither of us has ever had sheep before) Gabrielle bagsed the shower first (we were off out to friends for the evening) and I remained in the field, sat on the floor with my back to a fencepost and a beer in hand, just watching the sheep. There was a languid evening sun and I had a couple of swooping swallows for company and the constant chatter of Annike’s bantams to my right, accompanied by the occasional cock-a-doodle-do and, for a few minutes, the world just stood still. I took time to enjoy the magnificent solid and straight fencing that had caused me so much worry, sip my beer and smile at the characterful sheep … ahhhh! As we continue with our relentless list of “things to do”, I hope to factor in a few more of these global pauses and make sure that I enjoy life as the world spins.