This dawned on me pretty quickly. Whilst I was adamant that I would not live without pet pooch, Betty, I was well aware that our budget wouldn’t stretch to a short commute for Rhys, stables, a ménage, and a paddock for my sheep. Instead I would have to make alternative arrangements for my ponies, and be content with a small patch of green outside our home big enough for Betty’s bedtime wee-weeks but nowhere near big enough for my sheep. And even if we could afford it, exceptionally docile as they are, I doubt greatly that we would ever have found a landlord willing to accommodate them.
Still, I was adamant that I would not be selling them. Only a little later, I decided that asking my little sister to look after my flock – albeit a tiny one – was selfish. So I decided that the two would have to go, leaving only my three lovely lady-sheep for Maggie to negotiate.
I dreaded even making the advert, but when it came to it, I found it a straightforward process than I anticipated.
Deian, my first ever Swiss Valais Blacknose lamb was sold back in the spring. I swore that I would never sell my first born, but, there I was with a grumbly belly and frozen fingers shaking the man’s hands, inwardly torn between guilt and rejoicing that my bank account would soon get a much needed injection of cash. Though pleased I made the sale, the whole episode confirmed for me that I am not a natural salesman of livestock. I didn’t haggle – I haven’t admitted that to Farmer Tim, my despairing father. Then I couldn’t remember what my online asking price was, and I had no idea about deposits or receipts so had to get Farmer Tim’s advice on the matter. Nevertheless, I was savvy enough to resist Tim’s advice: ‘If they’re not paying in cash, have the cheque made out to the farm”.
I’m pleased to say that this time, I fared better: I haggled a little. For one scary night I thought I may have lost my sale but woke to a message not only agreeing to a price, but to take his companion to boot, just to save him from impending burgers. Hallelujah! Who am I to argue if the woman’s humanitarian concerns extend to my unwanted cross-bred sheep?
Deio, like his former pal, Deian, is a darling. He loves a fuss and I was sure his new mummy would find his floppy ears just as irresistible as I did. The trouble was, he never learned to differentiate between his sisters and the other sheep so he had to go. Keeping an incestuous Pembrokeshire sheep in check whilst in Notting Hill was just too much. Anyway I had absolutely no worries that he would settle into his new life as treasured pet and would love letting Granny June pet him in the garden.
However, I feared his companion, the cross-bred, would be more difficult to say goodbye to – not because I was particularly fond of him – but due to his repeated refusal to engage in any of my efforts to become fond of him. He refused, for example, to allow me to catch him when he needed his feet trimming, eat from my hand, or even allow me the smallest hint of a familiar bleat when I called them across the field. On social media he looked very cute and fluffy. But I feared he wouldn’t seem so cute when chewing the daffs and refusing to let Granny June anywhere near him. I felt he was troubled. Who knows: perhaps it has something to do with me having him castrated?
But I needn’t have worried. It’s actually all gone swimmingly and their new family really do love them. I am, for the moment, still feeling rather pleased with myself despite Farmer Tim’s usual dose of wisdom, “There’s a lesson here, next time you go to buy a horse, you don’t have to pay full price!” He has a point. So now that I am within a stone’s throw of Portobello, I shall be practicing…