We host a jolly mulled wine evening to get to know our neighbours better. Inevitably the conversation turns to our other neighbours,
"Did you hear about the tup a few weeks' ago?"
Tupping. I've learnt that one. Tup must be a male sheep.
"No, what happened?"
Turns out the tup had died, probably a side-effect of competitive headbutting. Our friendly neighbour notified the farmer, but he already knew.
"I'm waiting til dark to remove him," he explained. "I don't want to upset the new people."
Did he reckon the sight of a large sheep being dragged unceremoniously by a quad bike would have been too much for our kids? Or was he worried it would blemish a Londoner's romanticised view of the countryside? Either way it was very thoughtful. I'm just glad I didn't spot him dragging the carcass under the cover of darkness. That would have seemed far more sinister.
But apparently not all sheep lying on their backs with their legs in the air are heading for the knacker's yard. They may just be 'rigged' (or stuck to us newcomers), particularly heavily pregnant ewes who haven't been sheared because of the cold. Like beached whales, they just can't get going again without a little help.
Our friendly neighbour describes the technique for righting a rigged sheep. Sounds tricky. Alternatively, just phone the farmer.