Excellent neighbours

Amid all the “sturm und drang” of life in South Africa today along come a bunch of complete strangers to help one out of a crisis, restoring (partially at least) one’s faith in the human race.
It started on a Sunday morning when my flock of sheep chose to escape from their field by pushing a hole through a rusty wire fence and onto the verge of a busy road. OK, I know … why didn’t I repair the fence as one of my winter tasks beforehand? Truth be told, I’d repaired most of the fence by covering it with new field fence, but the roll was just a few metres short of the required length, and another roll is necessary to complete the task, a job that was scheduled for the next few weeks.
So the sheep were outside on the verge, unbeknown to me who was working on the other side of my plot at the time.
My cellphone rings. Is this a work call (it’s a Sunday, after all)? Or a personal call? I don’t know so I answer it. “Hello, this is Peet. I’ve just driven past your place and I see your sheep are out on the verge.”
“Oh, (expletive deleted)! Thanks,” I reply, dropping what I was doing and heading off, calling the only two bodies in the house at the time, the ladyfolk, to help.
Seconds later the phone rings again. “Hello?” “Hi, I live on the corner just over the road from you and I see your sheep are out on the road,” says the caller. “Thank,” I reply, “I’m on my way.”
The sheep, the entire flock of 24, are indeed on the verge, huddled in a group, staring sheep-like into the middle distance.
I vault the fence and find the hole. Widening it I call to my daughter who has arrived to help me try to herd the sheep back through the now-enlarged hole.
With a little bit of running around, some bad language and a lot of gesticulating we coax the sheep closer to the hole. And one goes through. And then another.
And then it dawns on the rest of the flock that they’ll be left behind if they all don’t go through, so they all try at once. Traffic jam.
So one backs out, spooked, and sets off down the road at a pace, while the others sort themselves out and squeeze through.
By this time a young lady named Shannon has stopped on the road to help.
She sets off after the errant escapee, which promptly flees into a vacant, unfenced plot alongside mine, overgrown with blackjacks, reeds and weeds. And home to a fearsome population of rinkhals (a fact which I neglect to impart to the ladies…)
Shannon, on seeing my better half trudging across the plot with a bucket of feed and a carrot top (favourite sheep snack) laughs, “Typical mother. They always want to solve a problem by feeding you!”
With the rest of the flock safely secured in another field we join Shannon, who has disappeared into the jungle after the sheep, now totally concealed by the thicket.
So we set about making a fearful din, which flushes the sheep, now even more spooked, out of the thicket and into the fence, whence it scampers up and down the fenceline escaping any attempt by me to catch it.
The hullabaloo brings two neighbours into the picture, one a fit young Malawian worker named Samuel who takes the chase as an athletic challenge and, after a few failed attempts at concealment and capture by surprise, launches himself after the sheep like Bakkies Botha after a Golden Lions winger heading for the try-line.
The sheep proves no match for Samuel’s athleticism when he launches himself into the air through the grass and blackjacks and brings the sheep to the ground, though it must be said that a “kykweer” would have had him penalised for a high tackle.
The capture now complete we drag the sheep to the fence, grab it by its legs and hoist it unceremoniously over and into my property. All’s well that ends well.
I hope Shannon and Samuel were able to pick all the blackjacks out of their clothes. It took my better half the best part of an afternoon to pick ours clean.
And next time my sheep escapes I want to be armed with a shepherd’s crook with which to snag the animal’s leg because I’m too old to be throwing myself around like a rugby player. Either that, or I’ll simply rely on Samuel, neighbours and passers-by to help in an emergency. Seems like one can do that on the plots.

1 comment

  • Plot life is the absolute best. The inventive way neighbours solve problems is outstanding at best, I tell you.
    Not wanting to sound racist, but the saying “n boer maak n plan” gets new meaning here on the plots. All races, all colors come together and tackle the situations with such gusto, it’s amazing to see and experience.

    Viva plot life, Viva