Living the countryside dream; The one where I picked maggots off a sheep's bum | Nicola Adam column

It’s now six months since our move to the lovely Lancashire countryside during lockdown and since I unwittingly became auntie to a flock of black Hebridean sheep.

By Nicola Adam
Friday, 1st October 2021, 4:09 pm

Though they actually belong to our next door neighbour, they have been utilising our as-yet unsorted back garden as a sort of bonus buffet and we have taken advantage of them as live-in lawn mowers. Since we moved in during spring I have literally seen many of the lambs born, grow little horns and became stroppy teenagers who secretly still like to feed off mum when no-one’s looking.

Everyday dramas include lambs getting their head stuck in the fence while trying to eat our plants, chasing escapees on the regular, a spot of human sheep-dog trialling up the road to separate the boys and the girls and a more serious rescue operation when a piece of fencing fell and trapped two adults. I’ve even had a lesson in sheep-shearing. It’s safe to say this little flock has provided much mental health support during a tricky time in media and Covid - all I need to do while my head is exploding is look out the window or return home and see all that really matters is that you have some grass to munch and a good scratching post - it’s a life lesson.

But this week. I couldn’t help notice that one poor lamb, number 34 but better known as Felix, was looking somewhat glum and alone right behind our house. Of course as I arrived for a chat he tried to flee and I realised he was not just limping but scratching - I suspected a fellow eczema sufferer. Reality was of course much worse and when the neighbour and I (everyone else was out) managed to catch him we made a horrible discovery. (I made the catching sound easy by the way, it involved much fencing, pratting about and penning an entire flock) The poor blighter actually had fly-strike, a nasty affliction where flies had laid eggs in his fleece and he was now home to approx one million maggots buried in his skin.

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Hebridean black sheep

So in case you are wondering what I did Saturday night, I was flinging my legs over a sheep and picking out wriggling maggots from his bum. What can I say, I'm living the country dream.