Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sheep Emergency On The Down, Advertising Talk Causes Much Bewilderment And Hilarity, and An Ancient City Water Mill

So I'm sitting here eating a packet of minstrels and staring out the window at the fishermen who are huddled beneath their giant umbrellas as the rain pours down waiting for an unfortunate carp to take the bait and hook himself on their lines. Rather them than me. I'd rather be inside eating minstrels in the company of the dogs, who are currently squashed together on a blanket in front of Ted's fire, which has returned mended from the wonderfully named Mr Spacagna.

Yesterday it was me out in the rain checking the sheep in a monumental downpour. M was smug, having put on his waterproof trousers, J was her usual uncomplaining self, while L and his friend Will declined to walk the final stretch onto the down because it was several thick feet in chalky mud. Quite Sensible.
I counted 24 sheep and spied the 25th halfway up a very steep slope. As I walked back past her I did a double take because she was lying on her back with what looked like a strand of wool caught up in a bramble unable to move. When I climbed up to free her I realised it was much worse than that- she must have slipped coming down the hill and somehow got her foreleg twisted round and jammed between 5 tree stems which had gripped it fast.

I felt a bit sick. It's not been a great week for losing animals. However, I pulled myself together and set about trying free her, while not looking too closely at the leg beyond a cursory check for cuts and breaks, because it looked horribly like it was bent the wrong way and although I'm a fairly tough old boot, limbs looking like they've been put on backwards do have a tendency to make me feel just that teeny weeny bit queasy.

There was no way I could move her so I yelled for M who was scampering around after Pops who was having a great time chasing Ted up and down the slopes. With his help we managed to haul the sheep up the hill enough to free her trapped leg and then dragged her in a rather undignified manner back down the hill to the flat where she lay unmoving except for the terrible shaking which was presumably a mix of shock and the cold. We had a towel with us which I covered her with.

It was pouring with rain, our lovely Ranger Catherine who is in charge of the sheep was 50 miles away, her partner was also away and their boss wasn't answering his phone. The switch board were of no help - the lady who answered didn't really seem to grasp the urgency of there being an injured animal in pain, with possibly life-threatening injuries, soaking wet and freezing cold out on the inhospitable January Down. She suggested she give me a number to call and I'm afraid I was slightly short with her and barked down the phone that I was on my mobile in the middle of the countryside in the pouring rain with an injured animal that looked like she might die at any moment and I didn't have pen or paper or time to write the number down so perhaps she could call it herself.

The long and short of it was that I remained with the sheep on the down while M got the dogs and the kids home to the dry and Catherine (who had rung by then) called the vet.

I honestly thought the sheep was going to die, and after losing Lou earlier in the week had my passing blessing ready on my lips, but after 10 mins of sitting with her giving her healing she suddenly lurched up onto her feet, shook herself, and bent her head to nibble some grass.

I could not believe it. Catherine was on the phone at the time and we had literally just been discussing the likelihood of the vet needing to administer euthanasia, so she was shocked too. It seemed miraculous.

The shaking stopped, her eyes became bright and she even attempted to follow me through the mud back to the flock. But the going was impossible so I left her there while I ran back to the gate for some sheep nuts (btw I was jolly pleased I'd been doing all this running because it is a reasonable distance in mud and wellies and I didn't want to leave her for long. Turns out I was able to get to the nuts and back quickly and with minimal puff, although my ankles are feeling the effect of running in heavy boots today I can tell you, but then my ankles are rather thin pathetic things).

When I got back she was down again and I feared the worst. Anyway, I left her the nuts, a little over from where she was lying in case Betty arrived and trod on her, greedy bag, and went to get the vet who was waiting in the car park.

I know sheep can die from shock quite easily so I wasn't really holding out much hope, even though the leg didn't feel to be broken. By the time we got back to her she was still lying down, but this time right next to the bucket which was substantially depleted of nuts. She got up when she saw us and jumped over a tree trunk in her haste to avoid capture, which I took as a good sign.

In fact, she led us a Merry Dance through the undergrowth until the vet, practiced at catching reluctant patients, managed to grab her, but only after we'd both been scratched and whipped by branches and thorns. An examination of the leg showed no breaks and no significant soft tissue damage either, so after a shot of anti inflamms and some pain killers, we let her go.

I returned with more nuts and when I left later on she was happily sitting up nibbling away at them. I've had an email this morning to say she made it through the night and is hobbling about, so finger's crossed she'll make it.

Here are some pics, poor quality because it was on my mobile and the weather really was appalling...

Initially down off the hill and not looking like life was going to remain for long

Taken just as she got up

5 mins later and much more alert. Phew!

We popped into Salisbury on Friday to walk round the Cathedral and admire the 12th C tombs of Bishops and Fighting Men (one of whom had been Bodyguard and Hard Man to Kings Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII, leaving L and I to ponder exactly how deep his loyalty to the York Boys went (and indeed how effective a bodyguard), given that Richard III was killed fighting for his throne against Henry VII).

We had a cuppa and some cake in a tea shop (walnut and coffee, delicious), and on the way home I received a call from a representative of an on line advertising company asking me to update the details for my business. The fact that I had forgotten I even had an advert with them will give you some indication of the attention I pay to that kind of advertising.

I think I must have been his most unhelpful call of the day. Sales jargon is not a comfortable bed fellow for healing. The conversation ran thusly:

Him: What's your USP? What marks you out from the competition? 

Me: Urm, I don't consider myself to be in competition with other healers. We don't really work like that, and we don't have USPs. It's more that you find the healer that's right for you. It's not about words, it's about feeling.

Silence, then after a moment....

Right. Perhaps instead you could tell me how much business you get from your advert with us?



That's right.


Yes, really.

So how do you get business then?

Word of mouth mostly.


Do you get much repeat business that way then?

Surprisingly, yes (irony completely wasted on him).

Perhaps you could describe to me what exactly it is you do, so we can attach some buzzwords to your ad, then when people search for them they'll be able to find you.

Ok, well, I do manipulation, that's skeletal realignment, I work on pressure points, soft tissue massage and hands on healing.

What else?

That covers it.

 Small silence.

What's your website address? I can add that to the ad.

I don't have one.

No website?


Why not?

Because we never got any business from it.

What, none at all?


But everything is viral these days.

Apparently not everything.

And do you feel you are generating sufficient business this way?

Yes. The right people find their way to me, and have done for the last 17 years.

By this point you could tell he'd seriously regretted ever making the call in the first place. I felt a bit sorry for him. He ended with a slightly desperate sounding: well, that's all updated for you. I think you'll be amazed at the amount of calls you get now we've added your buzzwords.

I don't think I will (I said) but I admire your faith in your work. Thanks for the call.

I put the phone down and turned to see M, who was driving, grinning broadly.

Poor Boy, he said.

This morning we have been into Winchester, and walked beside the flooding, fast flowing river Itchen and along the ancient City Walls to the water mill, which is managed by the National Trust. 
There has been a mill on or near the site since the 900's and I have never been inside it before. 

L and I had been into Waterstones previously and each got a new book (Dominion by C.J. Sansom for me -if you've never read any of his before you should because he is a brilliant writer- and a Spooks one for L). M had been into Primark and bought a fluorescent pink towel for work, on the basis that it is so appalling no one will want to steal it from the changing rooms.

On reaching the Mill L downed tools and flatly refused to go any further than the comfy sofa in the warm Nat Trust Shop, where he plugged into his new book and so impressed the old lady who was on the till that she felt moved to tell me when I returned that I should be very proud of him, because he'd never make a football hooligan. I refrained from telling her that she would almost certainly reappraise her glowing opinion of him had she just spent the last hour (as I had) walking round town with him grumbling and muttering to himself about being dragged round places he didn't want to go. He flashed her a brilliant smile as we left and she went pink and looked all the more glowy, so I am Very Much Afraid he has already learnt How To Charm Women, and that can surely only get worse from now on.

Winchester City Water Mill (Flour mill)

Beams in the mill

Mill Wheel

The Mills Race, couldn't believe how fast it was flowing. Very exhilerating.

The water mill mechanisms

Miller's Grain Shoe

River Itchen flowing through Winchester, not far from flooding it's banks...

A gate opening from the gardens onto the river Itchen. Wouldn't fancy using it today very much. L wondered what would happen if you lived behind it and slept walked through...

Abbey House (see plaque above)
Bishopy-type bloke adorning a gateway. They are everywhere. Winchester is posh like that.

The early 15th C Buttercross

This is the Eclipse Pub (black and white building in the centre) outside which Lady Alice Lisle was hanged for harbouring Royalist soldiers in her New Forest Manor during the 17th C Civil War

Winchester High Street

Good Old King Alfred. He was the 9th C King Of Wessex (Winchester was his capital) and a visionary in terms of promoting education and learning, including that of his daughters. One of which, Athelflaed, has long been a heroine of mine. She married the king of Mercia and when he was too old and sick to lead his troops into battle against the Vikings, she got on a horse and did it herself. That's my kind of girl!

We were all rather cold by the time we got home and it had just started to rain, so, after clearing up a poo Poppy had thoughtfully left for us in the sitting room, we had Green Thai soup for lunch and I put Ted's fire on and enjoyed watching the dogs snuggle up together in front of it, which I believe is where we came in.

Me and my big best friend

Puppy Love

Hope you're all well. 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend,

CT :-)


  1. What a day!...I would have been worried about the sheep too, guess it tore muscles of something like that. Did have to laugh about the phone call though...poor chap, he probably needs a healer now to get over the healer, lol (only joking)...(incidentally, I've done this off and on over the years...not seriously as you obviously do, just low-key - one incident in Newbury 20 odd years ago springs to mind...that particular individual now grown up thankfully and living his life!...long story won't bore you but nice that you have reminded me of the impact we can make on other peoples lives).

    1. Yes I expect he now thinks all healers are total weirdos who live in the dark ages! Glad you were able to help out all those years ago- I often find just listening and being there is enough.

  2. Well done, that woman, for averting the sheep crisis! And now, pray tell, what were the 'buzzwords' that Confused Viral Man has attached to your business advertisement? Did he actually tell you? Did you ask?? Do you care??? Winchester looks a grand place - another to add to my list of places to visit! Hope you are feeling better after such a hectic and horrid start to the year. Xxx

    1. I didn't dare ask what the buzzwords were, didn't feel we were firing on the same level at all, poor boy!
      Winchester is fab and very ancient- you would love it (that sounded rude but I think you'll know what I mean old pal).
      Yes, feeling better now and I think ma is starting too as well X

    2. Got carried away with the 'ooos' there sorry! x

  3. What a cheering post on a wet day! I`m pleased the sheep survived to live another day. A good job you found her when you did.

    We are due for another day out in Winchester or Salisbury. The mill looks really interesting.

    Hope your Mum is OK. I have been thinking of her.

    1. Glad you enjoyed.

      Doesn't bare thinking about that poor sheep trapped like that all day. I shall go and see her tomorrow and reassure myself she's on the mend.

      Thanks for kind thoughts re ma. I spoke to her earlier and she has laid some white flowers at the spot Lou died and said a prayer for her, which has helped. It just takes as long as it takes I guess. I suspect another horse at some point will help, a steady school mistress who will look after her, so if you hear of anything reliable I'd be very grateful if you'd ping me an email :-)

  4. SO pleased the sheep made it - miraculous. Perhaps you should have suggested 'sheep' and 'miracle' as your buzzwords AND your USP. I despair of some people's inanity sometimes. glad you had a nice time in Winchester and loved the pics! xx

    1. Sheep Healer- I can just see it! I think he probably doesn't often come across people like me in his working day and therefore wasn't quite sure where to go when I didn't answer his questions as per the clip board :-) (I hope to never answer questions as per anyone's clip board!). X

  5. That sheep looked dead, poor thing and poor you for having the stressful experience with it, but at least you found her and were with her-well done. Winchester looks lovely, again somewhere I've never visited.

    1. She did look dead. I honestly thought she was a gonner. Big relief she pulled through. That's a sacred hill she's on with lots of very ancient history and I'm convinced that had something to do with it. The sheep have been put on the hill to look after it afterall, and what goes around comes around.
      Winchester is a similar place- ancient and beautiful. You'd like it there I'm sure.

  6. I'm glad your sheep is doing better! And advertising people..they are... interesting for sure. Always think they know best about things they know nothing about. If he's very young, he doesn't remember a world before everything was online. No cell phones.. gulp.. just land lines. lol. Puppy love photo is adorable!

    1. I hadn't thought of that Mary- you're quite right, he probably never knew a world before the internet. I expect he thought I was a complete dinosaur!

  7. The mill looks fascinating, love those beams. What a great picture of Ted and Pops!

    1. The beams were amazing.....and completely covered in cobwebs. Made me feel better about my lack of house-keeping!!

  8. I'm pleased the sheep was OK, it looked a really worrying sight from your first photo. Well done for caring for it. We don't have any livestock vets in this area so we've had to act as emergency vets ourselves on our sheep in the past. It's always an anxious time.
    The old mill looks wonderful and I'd be fascinated by the rush of water, too - especially after all this rain.
    I loved the wander around Winchester and I agree about Athelflaed - such a gutsy girl!

    1. I've seen her this morning and you wouldn't believe it was the same animal. She's zooming about the hill barely limping at all. I'm so pleased.

  9. I'm so glad the sheep survived the ordeal and well done on acting so swiftly to get help :)

    Winchester looks a beautiful and very interesting town and I love the Mill. I'd love to visit the cathedral - the town looks just steeped in history :)

    I do hope things quieten down for you soon.

    1. It was a worry for a while there but she has made a remarkable recovery thank goodness. Sorry for the late reply- I somehow missed your comment when I was answering the others! x

  10. Hope the sheep is still doing well. It looks as if the conditions loo k dreadful! Lovely pictures of Winchester but my favourite has to be those 2 friends! Has Teddy become accustomed to Poppy now?
    Sarah x

    1. I've seen her today Sarah and she looks almost as good as new, virtually no limp at all, which is great.

      Ted is rather in love with Poppy- he grumbles first thing in the morning when she's bouncy and he's sleepy, but they curl up together and play together, so all is well, thank goodness! x

  11. The Last photo should be "Poppy Love" - very dear.

  12. Crikey what a situation to have to deal with! It sounds like you dealt with it brilliantly. The sheep was lucky you came to its rescue!

    Poppy looks adorable - it seems she really loves Teddy!

    1. It was rather a crazy and intense hour. I saw her on Monday and you wouldn't know it was the same animal- right at the top of the steepest slope on the down and barely hopping.

      I've been volunteering this morning which reminded me that it can't be long before you start your new job. Wishing you loads of luck with it and huge enjoyment of it. Let us know how you get on :-)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x