Monday, May 20, 2013

Weapon of Mass Destruction: the Sheep

One can seriously go off sheep, especially when they no longer look pretty. At the moment the ewes look all angular and awkward. They have recently been shorn, so the hip bones, shoulders and spine are very visible. Also, I think, they feel unlovely, undignified. It will take a little while for the fleece to grow back and cover their bones.

In the meantime, not only have they eaten the flowers off all the early purple orchids under the ash trees, they have kicked over the three serapia lingua next to the pine tree in Pont Franรงois field. It is four years since those orchids last showed their purple, asparagus like heads, in virtually the same place. My fault, I suppose, I should have protected the plants before the sheep got in that field. But how? At least they ate the other orchids, possibly for worming purposes, but just kicking the plants over is pure ovine vandalism.
serapia lingua to be?
But, of course, the real answer probably lies with the lambs. They are 'children' after all and human children explore by putting things in their mouths, then spitting them out or swallowing them, depending on the taste. Purple, obviously, does not taste as nice as pink. Is gambolling a form of ritual violence?
 Moi?  a hooligan?

Fortunately, in the field known as Fontenelles, on the slope behind green five, where the juniper bushes are, a new crop of orchids is coming through. The pyramid orchid is one of the most prolific followed by what should be the scented orchid but my knees were too stiff for me to get down and test. To my great joy I saw one 'hanging man' orchid, doubtless there will be others. There was a solitary burnt tip and, sheep permitting, later this month or early June we might be lucky and see some bee, fly and spider orchids.

hanging man orchid - not fully out
The luck element comes in because the sheep do not like the grass on this slope but stay on the flat. All I have to do is to persuade/bully the Wonderful Arnold into NOT mowing or strimming that area until the orchids are over. Never mind the lost golf balls, one can always buy more. You cannot buy wild orchids. And, at the rate at which the juniper bushes are dying off, we soon may not have orchids on that slope at all. It was very evident on my walk that on the cleared area of the slope, where the dead junipers had been removed, there were no orchids in the grass.

New junipers are seeding themselves but whether they have settled on ground that will please orchids, I don't know. There is a splendid new specimen at the head of the pump lake and some smaller ones growing along the fence between fairway six and the horse fields. These I shall have to defend, tooth and nail, against mowers and golfers for the soil might just be suitable for new orchids. Sheep don't seem to eat junipers.

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