After a short summer break, Brighton and Hove Council’s conservation flock are back on the Downs, munching away at the worst of the grass so local wild flowers can thrive.
It’s my third year as a Lookerer – a volunteer shepherd – and yesterday afternoon I tramped over the hills for the first time since June, to the Kemptown end of Sheepcote Valley, to check and report back on the girls, their water supply and the electric fence.
To mark the occasion, here’s a poem I wrote in my first year as a Lookerer. It’s dedicated to Dan at Fresh Egg, who coined the phrase ‘glorious sheep years’ at Jaamit’s barbecue, and to the memory of Jaamit himself, who will never see his glorious sheep years.
My latest poem
The Glorious Sheep Years
If someone suggested,
ten years ago,
she’d get a kick out of hearing sheep calling on the Downs
from her garden
she’d have denied it with every ounce of energy at her urban fingertips.
When there are clubs to go to?
Are you mad?
Now she sits absorbing the warm, loose calls of contented sheep
and the sparkling waterfall shriek of skylarks
as they blow on the fragrant, chalky breeze
straight off the rounded hills of Sussex
into her home.
Entering her Glorious Sheep Years,
she never imagined it’d feel so right
to shed youth like last year’s fashion,
and head for the high ground of age, where the view is bright and clear and the sounds are true.