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Bad Sheep & We’ve Got The Power

When we moved here we found the sheep and lambs arriving in spring lovely. The little lambs chasing their mums around the fields, tails wagging frantically as they drank, jumping and gambolling – sweet.

bad sheep

After 5 years they’ve lost some of their charm. Now it’s a matter of dread. When and how are the blasted beasts going to get into the garden this time? What damage will they do. Sheep don’t just eat grass – they’ll devastate a bed of brassicas, munch away on prize fruit trees and reduce a flower border to a few lumps of manure in minutes.

The local farmer’s attitude quite frankly stinks. He thinks it’s up to everyone else to fence out his stock and can’t see why he should be responsible for their damage. Strangely his approach is backed to the hilt by the NFU who reply to letters for him

Barbed Wire Support Brackets

Son-in-law Gary checking the barbed wire support brackets

Farmers are quick to play the sympathy card, the poor hard done by dairy farmers and so forth but when it comes to taking responsibility for their behaviour it’s a different story.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe passionately in supporting British farmers and local, seasonal food but farmers need to be good neighbours and environmentally conscious if they want public support.

Anyway, we’re spending the best part of a thousand pounds on repairing walls damaged by sheep and stock-proofing the boundary by inserting brackets and stringing barbed wire between them above the walls. Subsidising his business from my retirement fund.

Slug Pellets for Sheep!

If they still get in then I’m really tempted to plant some yew trees. Yew trees are very poisonous and just a few mouthfuls will kill a sheep – or a cow. That’s why you often find yew trees in churchyards. It makes the local farmers stop their livestock straying. Perhaps being asked to pick up the corpses will prompt him to control his own stock.

We’ve got the power!

One of the first jobs we did when we moved was to renovate the old cowsheds behind the house. As part of that we took power to an outside socket which was handy to the greenhouse. Power went into the greenhouse via an extension cable.

Later on the greenhouse blew down in a storm and I realised I was concentrating my efforts on the wrong place. It’s just too exposed where it was. The replacement greenhouse and new potting shed are on the other side of the property where it’s more sheltered.

Now a greenhouse is useful but the ability to control temperature is fantastic. With power I can keep the house frost-free if I want and germinate seeds etc. using the temperature controlled electric propagators.

Now I spoke to an electrician back in January who promised to come and run power to an outside socket for me in early February. After a number of ‘next week’ promises he just stopped returning calls and we were in mid-March. Anyway, found another electrician who actually turned up and did the job.

My plan was to run the power from the cow-shed, but the professional tapped off the circuit in the loft, drilled through the wall and dropped down to the outside toilet in conduit. His drill was like something they use to break into bank vaults in the films, massive, and the bit about four feet long.

So now we have a light in the outside loo, an outside socket handy for the greenhouse and potting shed and a floodlight high on the wall to illuminate the greenhouse area, which is useful. Shame it wasn’t done back in February as planned when I needed it.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
8 comments on “Bad Sheep & We’ve Got The Power
  1. Steve Watkins says:

    John, I use a water pistol to chase the cats & dogs off my front garden plot, not much use with sheep, a twelve bore could do the trick ? or maybe send the bill for the repairs to the farmer, when it’s not paid ask a local debt collector to collect the debt for you !

    • John Harrison says:

      @Steve Watkins: I know I could take him to court and go through a load of fuss and palaver to get paid but it’s a lot of time wasting.
      If they do get in to my field then chances are they’ll end up on the road or mixed with other flocks despite my best efforts 😉

  2. P.D.Blake says:

    How about rounding them up in the cowshed and holding them hostage until he pays for the damage 🙂

  3. I. E says:

    I appreciate your frustration but i think the phrase, ‘Farmers are quick to play the sympathy card,” is a little over the top.
    When my grandfather was farming his neighbour was appalling at mending fences which meant there was always a risk of his Ram wandering…
    My grandfather’s answer was to call round and mention the broken fence and say he’d be round the next day to help him fix it. Fait accompli.

    • John Harrison says:

      @I. E: I’m afraid I disagree – purely based on my observations. Most often they have very good reason to look for sympathy and support from the public though.

      If I had a dog, the farmer would reasonably expect me to keep it under control and not running around his fields – so surely the other side of the coin is true.

      As for your grandfather – well done. Unfortunately it’s not a matter of fixing a hole here – it’s 200 metres of walling to beef up to stock proof.

  4. Rhiannon Arian says:

    I can’t comment on farmers elsewhere, but sadly it’s all too common an attitude in your neck of the woods and one which I have much personal experience of 🙁 The farmer near my folks place has a standard answer of “It’s nothing to me!” each and every time there’s a problem of his causing. I spent a fair time while down on a visit last week blocking up holes in his fences to try and stop the blasted sheep getting out and wrecking their garden. His attitude’s totally different when HE wants something though!!

    I quite like the idea of holding the stock until the farmer repairs damage, and/or the thought of a freezer full of lamb! I suspect my mother would balk at that though, and they’d end up as pets 😉

    • John Harrison says:

      @Rhiannon Arian: The big problem is that legal actions are time consuming and never 100% certain.

      It would be legal for me to plant some yew which would kill the sheep or get a dog that savaged them (on my land) but I couldn’t do it. I know they’re destined for the pot but I can’t hurt an animal easily.

      Even finishing a badly injured rabbit or culling a chicken for the pot upsets me. However, if any get through the ‘Berlin Wall’ they will end up roaming wild up to the moorland until he can find them.

      Farmers like this are the equivalent of roadside burger vans with no food certificate and the sooner they’re out of business the better.

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