Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I just ran over a squirrel.

My husband was pleased. As far as he's concerned, grey squirrels are vermin, to be shot before they get at the hazelnuts.

I always try very hard not to kill anything on my journeys through the estate. (Yes, even ramblers). This is harder than it sounds, as all the bounty of creation seems to want to dart out in front of me and throw itself under the wheels. Tonight, before I hit the squirrel, I avoided three lively escapees from the cowsheds, four ducks and a moorhen, before I even got to the first set of gates.

It has all led me to recall the Worst Thing That Has Happened Since I Moved Here.

I was heading back down to the house, along the road that leads through the parkland. Sheep were grazing peacefully. One half-grown lamb was nibbling grass at the edge of the verge. I slowed down. I never took my eyes off it. I thought "that lamb is going to dart across this road any moment now". I drew closer. It remained nibbling, oblivious. The distance closed. I thought, "hmmm, seems I was mistaken and it's staying put". I drew level with it.

It darted out and went straight under the car.

Ba-dump Ba-dump went the wheels.

"Nooooooooooooooo!" went me.

I was distraught. I had run over a sheep. Maybe it wasn't too badly hurt. I got out of the car to take a look. It was stone dead, not a mark on it, though its head was at the wrong angle.

"I'm so sorry, sheep," I wailed.

It was wedged firmly under the car, so that I could neither move the vehicle, nor the animal. Legs stuck out at a jaunty angle. I tugged, fruitlessly. Well, that was Plan A out of the window then (me leaving the dead sheep on the side of the road and saying "Tsk! Just look at what some naughty visitor has done!") My big red car was sat, blocking the main visitor route to the house, with a sheep stuck under it. I could see walkers approaching. Oh joy, a pushchair. Now I would be responsible for upsetting a small child, too.

Plan B kicked in. In true, sorted, together, competent manager mode I started to cry. I phoned my Boss, then my Husband and then the Farmer, and sobbed and sniffed the same urgent message to all of them. "I - I'm at the top of the estate. I've run over a sheep! I can't move it or the car and people are coming!"

As it turned out, the people on foot were very nice. As they drew level they looked at the car, the dead sheep stiffening slowly beneath it, and then at me, blotchy-faced and snivelling.

"Aw, you ought to go and have a nice strong cup of tea, love, for the shock".

My husband and a warden arrived. The warden tried to cheer me up by telling me of the many sheep he had run over in his time. It wasn't really helping. Meanwhile my husband jacked up the car and they were able to remove the sheep and hide it behind a tree, until the farmer arrived.

"That was a good sheep, that," he said, casting his eye over it before tossing it into the back of his landrover.

"I'm really, really sorry," I said for the umpteenth time that afternoon.

I finally made my way back down to the house. Everyone had heard, from various visitors, of the sobbing woman at the top of the estate, with a dead sheep under her car. I could see my staff and volunteers registering my tearstained appearance and the lanolin smeared on the front bumper of the car. It was a fair cop.


cogidubnus said...

Isn't there a cajun dish based on "squarrel"? After all the grey (or gray I suppose) ones are an import from North America....Can't say I fancy that, but lamb now, that's a different story.

You used to be able to get these wonderful loin chops with kidney running through, and very nice too as part of a mad bachelors hefty mixed-grill breakfast...ahh those were the days!

(Any chance you could be a wee bit more selective next time?)

Boz said...

Think of it as natural selection in action!

monica said...

ooooh, i laughed so much
sorry, Doris, for giggling at your misfortune - or rather, the sheep's misfortune in meeting you that day - a girl should always have a plan B to fall back on to...

Doris said...

Well at least I can argue with vegetarians that, yeah, I am capable of killing my food. Accidentally, granted, but I can.

Anonymous said...

Admit it, you had to go up the verge to get the squirrel and you crossed three fields before nailing the ickle wamb?
Just think, right now, somewhere, in a tree, Mrs Nutkin is sobbing uncontrollably to the little Nutkins, trying to explain why daddy won't be coming home no more.
"Was it the evil, wicked, cruel lamb-killer lady with the wild hair, mummy?" I hear the tiny ones cry. "Yes, my little dears, I'm afraid it was. Now, do your homework or she will come and get you in the night."
Sleep easy,
Animal Lover (case pending). x