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Bert – or was it Ernie? I couldn’t tell the ducks apart – fell victim to a fox the other day. Leaving Ernie – or is it Bert? – in a state of shock, and alone. I am definitely not cut out to be a carnivore. The sight of Bert (or Ernie) strewn around his run with his neck half eaten, and clear evidence of a lot of chasing, really wounded me. I am probably the most sentimental man I know, and this would definitely not go down well in the pub, where slaughter is one of the main hobbies. Actually – it doesn’t sit well with me either since I love meat (although to be honest I’m not that keen on duck).

I feel so sorry for Ernie/Bert, that I’ve persuaded Sarah that we need to go and find two girl ducks to keep him company. He sits on the only remaining patch of grass in his run clearly deeply depressed and in mourning. Maybe a couple of hot chicks will take his mind off things.

We nearly lost a sheep too. One of the Shetlands – Celia I think – made a bid for freedom yesterday. Not helped by the fact that I was walking the dogs when I saw her ambling along a footpath, I tethered the dogs and set off in pursuit but too late. Celia had legged it – either into a field full of someone else’s sheep (and how the hell was I going to know which one she was among fifty others?), or into Knelle Wood, a gloomy and gigantic place that borders us (and if that was the case then she’d be badger-food in no time).

One of our dogs had escaped by the time I got back and was also heading for Knelle Wood. Now, had I gone back to the house and said ‘we’ve lost a sheep in the wood, and one of the dogs too’ then Sarah’s wrath would have made Lot’s punishment look like playtime. So, despite being in mud caked wellies, I sprinted across two fields, and just grabbed Mabel before she vanished into the undergrowth.

As it was, the lost sheep was enough to lose me more brownie points than I’ve earned in the last couple of months. And it took an hour to get her back. She was, thankfully, in with the strange sheep, and Sarah seemed able to spot her without trouble. This is some skill.  Sheep all look the same to me but Sarah thinks otherwise.  I truly believe that should any of our sheep ever fall victim to rustling then Sarah would be able to work with the police to produce accurate identikit drawings of each of the missing animals and would demand that a national appeal be made on Crimewatch.   Anyway, spotting Celia in the field was one thing.  Encouraging her to leave her new friends and go home entirely another, but after a great deal of coaxing she followed a bucket of food home.

So with my good-behaviour score back at zero I fear it’s only a matter of time before Sarah insists that I’m chaperoned on dog walks as part of a risk-management programme.  I think she might also introduce sheep identification lessons – where I’m made to look at pictures of each of our sheep for hours on end and then be tested on their names and distinctive features.  Maybe I should just stay out of trouble and move in with Ernie the duck.

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