One of our neighbours is Denis, retired from the London fire service and well used to emergencies. At this time of year, the field in front of his house is busy; lambs racing around, weary ewes trying to get a break and pregnant ones keen to get on with it. Most manage an unaided natural birth, but some need the ministrations of a shepherd.
As Denis admires the view, he sees that one is lying on its side, with wriggling legs, up in the air!
A phone call to the farmer; no answer. A phone call to the next farmer; also no reply. A third call, to the retired farmer, was answered by the farmer’s wife who said ‘If you do nothing, the ewe and the lamb will die’.
Denis had seen the farmer at work and knew roughly what to do. Rolling up his sleeves he inserted his right hand, but that hand was too sore for any serious probing. So he took off his watch and tried the left hand. Somewhere inside should be some legs or something else to pull out, but it was beyond his reach.
Professional help was needed and eventually the farmer at the far end of our lane was contacted and, picking up his bottle of fairy liquid, agreed to come and assist. On arrival he looked at the ewe with her legs in the air and asked the would-be rescuer if he’d been fired from the fire service? Did he always stick his hands up anyone who called for help?
‘That sheep’s not pregnant, it’s fallen over and can’t get up.’ He grabbed the sheep by its wool, rolled it onto its feet and off it ran.
Each time he walks down the lane our good Samaritan neighbour gets a strange look from this ewe. I like to think I would have been as willing to ‘lend a hand’ and not just walk on by. If nothing else, I am sure that within a couple of weeks, the story will have brought a smile to hundreds of shepherds across North Wales.