Baa Baa Kill Sheep

My computer is back with a new internal logic board and I wish I had one too. Why do I bother? This is the question I asked myself in a rich expletive laden shout across the valley on Thursday morning. Closely followed by …ing sheep and …ing farmers. OK I know farmers have a hard time of it and we should all be deeply sympathetic about their plight in difficult years (and I am) but I’ve never understood why there isn’t a law allowing gardeners to shoot sheep that are quite clearly guilty of worrying their vegetables. These vegetables are just as much a part of our livelihood as the sheep are of there’s. Of course being an animal lover I wouldn’t – and being a wimp probably couldn’t – kill a sheep in cold blood – but if I did I think I would calm my ethical qualms and claim diminished responsibility. After several months of careful preparation, rubble shifting, fence making, soil cultivating, seed germinating, slug watching and whole pounds of love, care and devotion heaped upon that tiny plot of soil the whole of this years adventure has been brought to a disappointing and literally crushing end by sheep – or hill munchers as we call em round here. The broad beans bent double, the french beans naked from the waist down, stripped of their leaves and their modesty. The lettuce are sawn off – munched literally to within an inch of their life. The strawberries have gone. The nasturtium are a thing of the past. The comfrey mutilated. The gate knocked down like a summer wicket – the bails down the crease. Pitched over by a googley. The willow I made it from smacked about by a big moving piece of leather. I have replaced it all with boring, un-beautiful but effective chicken wire. The sheep will not be back. This is going to sound like the story of the blues but since the incident its been raining for five solid days. You know the sought of thing ‘My woman she gone left me, the rain has soaked me to the skin, the sheep have crushed my broccoli, I’m all about done in. I’ve got the blues. Oh yes sir got the blues.’ I haven’t had the heart to go back up there since. Slug watch is all washed up. Its difficult to carry on a proper analysis (if you can call it that) when half your experiment has become the raw material for wool. If only I could use slug bugger to repel sheep. Were the slugs even bothered by the actual sheep? I know I should clear up the patch, see what’s what and start all over again. Get back on the horse, or whatever the gardening equivalent saying would be. Ride my carrot again. But I think for this season at least – its time to cut my losses. What happens now? Repairs, fence making, gate building, preparation for another beginning. That’s the good thing about gardening – there’s always next year. What have I learnt about this whole experience? Not much that I didn’t already know. One thing I will say – why do TV gardening programmes never show disasters like this. Wouldn’t they be so much more enjoyable if they did. To me gardening is a flesh and bone struggle with elemental forces, a hard fought battle against the forces of circumstance, a passionate trauma. The one thing gardening isn’t, is easy. Not for most of us. Until next time…

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