Two sheep. My nephew spotted them for sale whilst out for a country drive with a mate. Just the ticket, he thought. He lived next door. Young, he had interesting and creative solutions to household management. Like the time there was a watermelon fight inside his house. It had left a sticky mess. Solution ? Hose the floors, of course! It worked a treat he said.
Back to those sheep. He bought them. They were duly loaded into the back of the little Daihatsu. By the time they arrived home the inside of the car was covered in sheep poop and smelled – well, pretty ripe. The reason the sheep moved to live in his back yard was a brilliant solution to a perennial problem. He would never have to mow thelawn again! Pleased with himself, he fondly called them Butthead and Beavis.
We were woken in the mornings to the idyllic sound of sheep bleating. Our Irish neighbour was delighted. It reminded him of the country, he said. Very quickly it became apparent that Butthead and Beavis did not mow the lawn all over in a neat and orderly manner. Instead, they grazed. As sheep do. A nibble here. Another there. Tufts of grass were left untouched. Obviously not tasty enough, it grew tall and lush. He tried enclosing them. Tethering them. To encourage a more even and aesthetic mow. It didn’t work. Eventually – and rather quickly – they ran out of grass. He now had a new problem. Butthead and Beavis needed food. Every day. Lots of it. They ate and pooped all day long.
Solution? He asked if he could let them graze in our back yard. It was bigger. The grass would last longer. And by then his would have grown back. Or so he reasoned. We saw no reason to refuse. So one Saturday afternoon he asked me to help him move them. Farmers we were not. Nothing we did would entice them to follow us. Solution? Butthead was unceremoniously picked up and laid on its back in a wheelbarrow. He would come back for the other he said. As we wheeled Butthead towards our yard, Beavis obediently trotted along behind! Problem solved.
Jessica, our young and lively kelpie, was in her element. She was a farm dog after all. Her breed was trained for working with sheep. She happily herded Butthead and Beavis into corners all day long. Every now and then Beavis got sick of the annoying, yapping little mongrel and butted her into the fence. Kathump !! She stopped a while. Then she was at it again. Jessica was in kelpie heaven. Tired and happy, she slept soundly every night. And woke in the mornings ready for a new day of sheep herding.
I began to have some niggling doubts about the wisdom of housing Butthead and Beavis in our yard when I saw they had discovered the juicy fruit trees. My nephew placed chicken mesh around the trees. It didn’t stop them. Soon the leaves were all neatly cropped to sheep head height. Then we too were running low on the supply of grass.
I had bonded with Butthead and Beavis by this time. I am an animal lover after all. I felt sorry for them and started feeding them kitchen scraps. Bad move ! As soon as they saw me at the kitchen window they would come to the window bleating hunger. However, kitchen scraps alone were not enough to feed two adult sheep. I now had a problem. Solution? I bought them bales of hay. Butthead and Beavis were in seventh heaven !! As soon as they saw me they came running up. Our back veranda was covered in sheep poop. A most unsatisfactory state of affairs. Butthead and Beavis were returned to my nephew’s yard.
He talked of slaughtering them and hosting a lamb spit party. His other animal loving neighbour was horrified. She told him what he intended to do was illegal. So he let them live. One day he discovered that both sheep were badly flyblown. Solution ? He used nail scissors to clean them up. His mate tried to help in between bouts of throwing up.
Then he received word that Mother was flying down For A Visit. She issued a command. Butthead and Beavis must be gone by the time she arrived. Solution? Butthead and Beavis were duly loaded back into the little Daihatsu. He and his mate went for a country drive. And returned them home to a somewhat bemused and puzzled owner. For free. A sheep free status quo was returned to both households.
© Raili Tanska