Earning My Stripes

Cycling back from the papershop today on a glorious morning* I was startled to encounter a sheep moving at a fair lick towards me along the road, with a farmer on a quad bike in hot pursuit. The sheep, seeing a person on a bike (the scariest thing in the world if you’re a sheep), faltered for a moment and I – responding to some waving from the farmer – swiftly cut it off at the pass. He was able to then corner the sheep and manhandle it into his trailer, thanking me warmly for my assisstance. I pedalled on, feeling immoderately pleased with myself. It’s a bit like when you’re standing on the dockside in some picturesque fishing harbour and some trawler coming in alongside throws you up a rope to wrap round a bollard in your best seamanlike manner. Undoubtedly had you not been there, the farmer or fisherman would have managed without you, but for a moment you feel entirely as if you too could turn a hand to sheep wrestling, or trawling, or lumberjacking or whatever. There I was, writer, cyclist, blogger and sheep cornerer – escaped livestock a speciality. Anyone might have mistaken me for a proper country person.

Of course, I know I’ll never really be a proper country person, but I do think I’ve made a bit of progress over the past four years with such rural arts as wood stacking, talking to total strangers and not locking things up unnecessarily. In fact, I was thinking there really ought to be some way of recognising such things (apart from my second prize in the ‘any other vegetable’ category in the village show – not the most hotly contested competition, I must admit). I was never a girl guide long enough to earn any badges (they didn’t give them out for ‘making up rude alternative versions to campfire songs’, unfortunately) but perhaps I could earn some rural ones? I could sew them onto the sleeve of my fleece, which is the rural uniform around here. I think I’ll start with my ‘putting livestock back in fields‘ badge, which I must surely have qualified for by now…

*Especially compared to yesterday. I mean, I set out in what turned out to be the only five minutes when it didn’t rain ALL day, and came back so soaked my shoes are still full of water, and still got the best of the day. Can I just remind the weather gods that it wasn’t a bank holiday in Scotland?


7 Responses to Earning My Stripes

  1. John Gibson says:

    It’s a nice feeling to help someone, especially when its something unusual like herding farm animals. Of course these things can easily go wrong and then you say to yourself why didn’t I just keep out of the way.

  2. Frits B says:

    Talking to total strangers a rural art? Says a blogger? 🙂

  3. WOL says:

    In re: the weather, have you been lax with libations?

  4. Andy in Germany says:

    I like the idea of sleeve badges. The first one should be either “Local” for those able to provide evidence their ancestors lived locally for three generations (preferably in same house).

    Everyone else with a permanent local address would get “Not a tourist”.

    Once you had this sewn on a shoulder you could be eligible for other badges…

  5. disgruntled says:

    there’s a very poor taste joke there about yellow stars to mark out the townies, but maybe I’d better not go there…

    • Andy in Germany says:

      Actually, that was one thing that did disturb me when in the UK recently: a group of kindergarten kids all wearing a large yellow star. I’m guessing it was just for identification as a member of the kindergarten,, but even if it was, it seemed rather tasteless…

  6. […] August, I began to wonder if I might actually be getting the hang of this whole living in the country thing  – and got more value out of a Highland Rover ticket than anyone may ever have done before – […]

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