Each winter, early, some acts of faith take place. Today two. The broad beans were planted. Polly and Cassie went to the tup. That used to be difficult – catching sheep, loading them into a vehicle, and saying good bye, until summoned to catch them again, and re-load them. This latter usually took place on the least convenient day and in the most impossible weather. If there was a day when sleet was horizontal, and driven in a force eight wind, that would be the day for wandering a vast hillside rattling a bucket, and shouting :’Polly! Polleeee!’ Every sheep would run from me until at last two valiant little figures would come hurtling towards me and the bucket (especially the bucket.)
Here it was breathtakingly simple. Catch Polly, mark both sheep with the painless orange spray just behind the head, giving a general impression of fierce coloured highlights, and walk them out of my gate and straight through the shepherd’s field gate – all of five yards. Now they are just over the fence, where I can keep an eye on them while they wait for the sudden madness which will overtake them and turn the tup into an object of irresistible desire. And when I rattle a bucket, it will be in just two medium sized fields, for a short walk home.