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My French Life: Trumper the 200 year old sheep

When we bought our house several years ago, Roger, the old chap across the road used to keep his sheep in our garden which was basically two fields divided by a hedge.  The sheep lived in one field and had an old corrugated iron shack for a home.  It was a massive and old sheep but every year Roger introduced a baby lamb to it to bring up ready for him to make into lamb chops at the right time – usually after about 6 months.

Sadly Roger passed away and the house stayed empty for a long time while the sheep stayed. I don’t think anyone quite knew what to do with her. I suppose she could have gone to an animal refuge but she needs a lot of space so it wouldn’t be easy.  I don’t think anyone would want to adopt her – she’s a bit of a moaner and always grumpy and she smells awful. She certainly isn’t fit for human consumption.

For a while a goat joined her and stayed for a while before running off down the road. Our cats who sometimes like to bed down with her at night if they fancy a break from our company.

During that time the poor thing has been left the odd bucket of water and food by Roger’s family. So we took to taking her extra water and food which we put through the fence. Luckily its a huge garden so she never runs out of grass and she adores the bamboo hedge that surrounds it.  She basically works her way round the hedge, by the time she gets to the end, the start of the hedge has grown again! Despite a lack of company, she has thrived.

Roger’s house recently sold and the new owners were obliged to keep the sheep on or the sale would not go through.  Knowing how things work in rural France I anticipate the house will always be known as Roger’s house. A hundred years from now no one will know who he was but it will still be his house!

I’ve got to know the sheep quite well over the years and call her Trumper due to the absolutely dreadful aroma she emits.  She has terrible bad breath – it could strip paint;  her hair is matted and filthy and she moves like an arthritic wreck but every time I open the front door I am greeted with a loud Baaahh from across the road and she races to the gate for a treat.

No one knows how old she is but she’s becoming a bit of a legend around these parts. My neighbour Remy who, it must be said, likes to exaggerate, reckons that she’s around 33 years old.  I don’t know if sheep years are like dog years but if they are then that would make her about 230 years old! I’m pretty sure that’s not possible even here where the living is good although France does hold the record for the world’s oldest confirmed human life span (Jeanne Louise Calment 1875-1997) so perhaps it’s true?!

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