(Please note, my website is still a work in progress)
Well today was going to be an exciting day, I was heading off to Langholm to see the man I call the Cider Guru aka Chris Harrison from Waulkmill Cider https://www.waulkmillcider.com/ to have a photoshoot with him for the Hexham Courant for my cider which is coming soon.
So I get up at 6.45 am, I am still missing that hour since the clocks went forward, terribly so, is that normal? I put on my new T shirt with my logo for “Quirky to the core” on, feeling excited for the day ahead.
I set off and I am 2 minutes from home when I see a sheep on the road, as you do, no you don’t in Rowlands Gill, it is not a normal occurrence! Anyone who knows me knows that I will never leave an injured animal/ bird, I have rescued many a bird, a dog, cat and now a sheep, so I drive home to get Honey the dog’s lead and I head back to him, hoping that he is still in one piece. I can see that he is bleating away at the cars and I am a little worried that he may dart into the road if he is scared of me, I walk towards him, staying close to the road in the hope he won’t run that way, then, this is the odd thing, he runs towards me, right towards and makes it incredibly easy for me to put the lead onto him.
So I have a sheep on a lead, what next? I literally had no idea what to do, so I called 101, explaining it wasn’t serious but I had no clue what to do, they said can you get it into a field, at this point I had the sheep on a lead but I could not move him, he kind of dictated where we went, sheep are strong and if he wanted a specific blade of grass, well put it this way I went with him to every blade of grass he chose to eat. I explained to the police that on my own I couldn’t really move him, he said they could send someone to help get it into a field but it would take time, as obviously a sheep isn’t a priority.
I then called a friend who had farmer friends, he suggested I ring the council, so I did, who then gave me a number for DEFRA, I called that number, they then gave me a number for someone else related to DEFRA, they then said that the council or Police is who I needed to speak too, I said I had called them, he then advised I call back the council as animal health should deal with this, so I did, at this point my phone said I had no credit so I had to buy more credit. Anyway I spoke to the council again, who said they could only collect it if it was dead so I was no further forward and had had sheep on the lead for nearly 2 hours. I then tried the RSPCA who said they couldn’t help and said to call the police. At this point I actually felt like crying, I know, I know what a girl but I literally had no clue what to do with sheep as I couldn’t lead him anywhere, I was late for my photo shoot, messing around a local paper, a photographer and the Cider guru.
For 2 hours, I had this sheep on the lead and many a car drove past, they must have thought it was quite normal walking a sheep on a lead or I have that look, you know the look, the lady who looks like she walks sheep every day! (UPDATE – I posted on Facebook after the day and a friend said ” Louise, I feel dreadful I drove past you this morning and thought ” there is Louise walking a sheep and I thought nothing of it” so this confirmed I definitely have that look!)
Then I called my friend again but at that point and I saw two ladies walking towards me, as they got closer they clocked on that I had a sheep on a lead and not a huge rotund dog covered in a wool fleece, I explained how I had no idea what to do, I explained that I had called so many people, that I had been on a local residents page on Facebook, twitter too and I still had no clue. Then my parents neighbour appeared and together we decide to usher the sheep to a local field and then I would go hunting for a local farm knowing that the sheep was safe in a field. So Ron is behind telling the sheep to walk as he was not wishing to cooperate fully, he wanted to walk where he wanted to walk. Ron then had to stop traffic and we managed to get him into the field, he does try to get out but we think he will be secure in there.
So everyone returns to their normal business and I set off to find a local farm. I park up next to a barn and there are some ladies in the car park, I ask if they know anything about where a sheep could have come from. I am directed to Christina who runs the Barn Parent and toddler group https://www.facebook.com/thebarnparentchildgroup
. This place is a fabulous place if you have children to get them to experience the outdoors and the group is Steiner inspired, which I had to google but according to Wikipedia it is
“Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Its pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils” and that can all certainly be done at this group.
The Tipi at The Barn Parent & Child Group.
Anyway I have interrupted their session but they are all very accommodating, Christina knows local farmers so did some calling around and also very kindly offered to look after Sheep temporarily. Then encouraged by the lovely parents at the group, Christina and I headed off to the field where we left the Sheep, who I am going to give the name “Houdini”. Christina predicted that he could have been from a farm not too far away, in fact little did we know then but she predicted the exact farm he belonged to.
We parked up, we couldn’t see the sheep, panic set in, thinking that he will either be in Chopwell Woods or on the road. We checked the field properly but no luck, I even called for him as after bonding for 2 hours, I thought that he may recognise my voice.
I drove Christina back to her class and took her mobile number. I headed back and drove up a road next to the field and back down, I was devastated, thinking he was going to get injured or worse. I decided to head home and as I drove past where I had found him a few hours earlier, there he was stood in the same place, so I drove to my street turned around and went back, deja vu from 8am. I took the lead and headed towards him, he came to me and I put the lead on again but noticed another rope on him. This confused me and I thought he maybe got it attached when he escaped from the field, must say I have no idea how he actually escaped from that field, I would love to know if anyone saw him jump the fence or climb the gate or high jump out using a stick or jump on the back of a Red Kite!
So I have a sheep on a lead….again and still no clue ,although I do have someone who has very kindly offered to look after Houdini. I then try to get him in my car, at this point, I am clearly delusional thinking I could get a sheep into my car, he followed me wherever I went, had I had a ramp I know he would have climbed into my car but alas I had no ramp. I then called back the police who had left me a message to see if the sheep was still out. I explained he had been in a field but escaped again and he was back with me. They said they would keep the case open.
I then spot one of the lovely ladies who had helped get him into the field earlier, she said they had been walking home and he was following them, so they called a friend who came and tied up the sheep, the sheep is a strong un and set himself free, she said she had called Durham Police who were coming out. They had to dash off to pick up one of the ladies children.
I then decided, maybe I could walk Houdini to Christina, oddly at this point Houdini was exceptionally tame and following me wherever I went unlike for our first 2 hours together where he wore the trousers and told me where on the grass we were going. I then spotted a policeman walking towards me, I said “this is Houdini”. I then asked if Houdini could get into the police car ( still delusional) or my car if we both lifted him. The kind policeman was from Northumbria Police and said he had never in 10 years had to escort a sheep!
We headed to my car, Houdini following me, opened the boot, then attempted to lift Houdini, at this point we thought it was a lady, we hadn’t done the check. We even tried coaxing him with items from my car that it seemed to like the look/ taste of but no luck at all, as he is a sheep and not a dog, so we then decided to walk to the barn.
So picture this, me, a sheep on a lead and a policeman walking on the pavement…as you do. Houdini was amazing, walked like a dog on the lead, he walked at least a mile on hard ground which I doubt he is used to. Houdini then spotted a puddle and he went for a drink, made a dive for it in fact, no wonder after his stressful day and all of the exercise. I never knew how sheep drank water but I do now, he kind of sucked it up, well it looked and sounded like that. We did try to discourage him but he was clearly desperate for water. We managed to prize him away from the puddle telling him he could have fresh water soon.
Then we made it to the barn, Houdini was already quite famous here, all of the parents were very happy to see him. Christina had quite a surprise seeing me return with Houdini and a policeman!
It was such a relief to know that until we found his owner he was safe with Christina, I am so grateful to her for offering to help as after calling so many people to no avail I was starting to think the only option is for me to keep him but I couldn’t transport him, well until the second meeting when he seemed to have become a dog and would let me lead him.
The policeman and I walked back to our cars and by this point I found out that my photo shoot had had to be cancelled as the weather wasn’t great in Langholm and the camera which was going to be used had a broken flash, I felt awful letting so many people down but hope they understand that rescuing Houdini had to happen. When I eventually returned home, 4.5 hours after I had left home, Christina called and said that she had rang round her farmer contacts and found someone she knew who lost a ram last week so we were sure it had to be him…that was until a lady messaged me on Facebook.
This lady said that her farmer friends had lost a ram last night, so I rang Christina and explained that the ram may not be the person that she knows. I got to speak to the lady who had lost her ram and did some checks to check it was her ram, she gave a very good description so as I write this Christina and this lady are in touch, so by the end of today Houdini will be back in his field, he may need a GPS fitted or a prison fence put round his field!
Another ram sadly went missing last week in the area, so if anyone knows of this ram please do let me know and I can pass on the information to Christina.
So formal apologies need to be made to:
Chris at Waulkmill cider https://www.waulkmillcider.com/ for messing his day around as he is a very busy man. I sell some of Chris’ fabulous ciders at local events so if you like cider, keep an eye on my page. Chris is also the man who has helped me to be able to make my own cider, along with lovely people who let me collect their apples or donated their apples to me, all going well it will be on sale later this year.
Anyway that made for a very random blog post but I am so happy that Houdini is going to be safe tonight.
Thank you to all of the kind people on Facebook and the people who have helped to get Houdini (I shall always call him this) home. I now know he is called Buster the sheep, aptly named really as he is skilled at busting out of fields!!
Ooh and before I forget, I have also thought of a name for my first cider, well the policeman thought of it so in the next few months I shall be launching this.
The delightful sheep is called Buster and he was hand reared hence him being so tame, he is adorable and such a character.
I named the cider “Walk the Sheep” and featured Buster on the bottle.