Today marks a new chapter for the Marmont Flock: the technological age has arrived. Admittedly due to being crazily busy this is my fault. Two of my daughters were videoed by Virtual Shropshire at the Shift Time Festival in Shrewsbury at the weekend. Today they went live on the Festival website and YouTube (erstwhile much maligned in this house along with BBC iPlayer as voracious consumer of our bandwidth allowance!).
It all began through my involvement with the festival as blogger and photographer “Gekkko” (it’s a long story). A chance comment by the festival director Jon King at a meeting led me to volunteer the loan of an ex-show sheep Camilla, an eight year old ewe descended from the characterful shearling Calypso we bought from Leicestershire in 1999 (and later sold to an ex-drover from Oz, but that’s another story). I digress….a common fault. Sorry. Anyway, Camilla I deemed suitable to appear in a park as the only livestock on the day as she was solid and dependable; daughters two and three having both won trophies with her in the past were happy to help for the weekend for a fee…and a trendy orange T-shirt.
“Loan of a sheep” rapidly became two (as sheep are flock animals) and the Tiawanese artist Feng-Ru Lee who appears as her alter ego Milee the Sheep, was happy with this. During the following week her technician David Thomas created pens which met our criteria for strength (as well as the looks Feng-Ru required). Camilla was held back from shearing and clipped and trimmed to an acceptable state, and young Roland (a bottle fed wether of impeccable nature rejected at birth by his mother for escaping the pen and befriending the chest freezer), was halter trained. Feng-Ru also came out from Birmingham to the wilds of Montgomeryshire to meet the sheep and learn more about the sort of behaviour she could expect to emulate on the day(s). She wished to mirror Camilla’s actions – to include nibbling grass, cudding, bleating and so on: Feng-Ru feels strongly about cloning and genetic engineering and this was part of a series of acts. The Jacob sheep fitted well here as being an ancient breed, improved but still an easy lambing animal, intelligent as they go, and with striking good looks.
I obtained a performance license from the very helpful Animal Health vets at Shrewsbury, the trailer was vetted too, and off we went. Twice. To The Quarry, Shrewsbury. The sheep were a hit with the many families walking and cycling up and down The Severn opposite Shrewsbury School, and once working were much admired. Over the years we have become used to our horned beasts being called goats, and recall a group of secondary school pupils being herded past the end of the sheep lines at Kent County Show…one girl being heard to exclaim “oh look, cows!”. Sigh…