Well, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that the sheep across the road has gone to the great pasture in the sky.
When I bought my house nine years ago it came with a sheep!
The lady who owned the house before me had let the man across the road put his sheep in half of the garden. She was in the Navy and was away from home a lot so having a sheep in situ kept the grass down.
When I bought the house I was quite happy to have the sheep remain, I was away much of the time and thought it was quite fun to have a big old mouton in the garden.
The old man across the road was a bit odd. He was certainly in his ‘80s and lived alone. One of our neighbours told us he had never recovered from losing his wife twenty years before – it had made him very bitter.
Roger (for that was his name) rarely spoke to me or my Other Half, and I never saw him smile. He would simply let himself into our garden from time to time to make sure the sheep had water and food and then disappear.
Occasionally he would say hello or goodbye – sometimes in French, sometimes in German which he seemed to think we were. Every now and again he would put the sheep in his own garden for a change of scenery and fresh grass.
The sheep was one of the smelliest, woolliest and dirtiest creatures I’ve ever seen. Remy our neighbour who knows everything told us that she was about 25 years old – she certainly looked it. She had the foulest breath you can imagine. If I could have got her into our house and channelled her breath, I believe it would have saved me a lot of effort in rubbing off ancient varnish from the old beams. We called her Trumper.
For all her smelliness, she seemed happy enough. Roger put a lamb in with her each year which she appeared to care for – rather sadly Roger also ate said lamb a few months later.
This arrangement went on for several years until Roger became unwell and he took the sheep back into his own garden across the road and there she stayed. Roger passed away about 5 years ago and after a couple of years, his old house was sold – part of the conditions being that Trumper was sold with the house and allowed to carry out her days. At that stage she was (apparently) 29 years old and according to village gossip, the oldest sheep in the world.
That sheep just kept on going. No one had seemed to look after her very much after Roger went, occasionally Roger’s family would leave her some water and food. The garden was huge and surrounded by bamboo which Trumper munched away on contentedly. We used to feed her carrots and vegetables which she loved – I would whistle for her every morning and she’d come running, yes running, to the gate. Every time I opened my front door a loud “baaa” would be heard from behind the hedge in front of my house.
The new owners of the house were kind to Trumper, they let her be in the garden, fed and watered her, had her sheared in the summer. My cat Winston became great friends with Trumper so at last she had some companionship. On cold nights Winston and Trumper huddled up together in Trumper’s little shed and even though Winston is a lazy, spoiled boy, he never came in if he could be with Trumper at night.
A few weeks ago, Winston started coming into the house around 9.00 pm and resumed his space in the utility room with the other cats ‘Enry Cooper, Loulou and Ginger Roger.
Trumper having reached the grand age of 33 years (I don’t honestly know if this is even possible but that’s the legend in my village) has died – she had a very good innings I know but I shall miss her.