Thursday 14 May 2015

K for katabasis

One of the greatest stories ever told is known to us as Xenophon's Anabasis, which I've written about before saying that it really should be called the κατάβασης because the Going Down was where the heroes, principally Xenophon in his own account, stepped out of the crowd and saved the day.  There's a different, less positive, meaning to the phrase going down which is about terminating the troublesome.  And I do know that there are other meanings to the phrase.

Today's story is in two parts with the same protagonist, the sheep marked K, which means that she was the second-to-last of our ewes to give birth at the beginning of last week.  Actually, her lamb was breech, so from her mother's womb on timely ripped would be a better description of the delivery than 'giving birth'.  ANNyway, we were both off-site for much of the day yesterday and my first action on returning to the ranch, after a cup of tea, was to go out and count ewes N=13 and lambs N=20 as all present and correct.  Two hours later, when I called them into the haggard for dinner and bed it was N=12, N=20 with one of the ewes "K" still standing underneath the over-hanging hawthorn which the girls used to call The Fairy Village. Closer inspection showed the beast's head was jammed through one of the holes in the wire-fence designed to keep sheep from going through.  She'd been there for some time and no amount of pushing and head-turning from me and her together could extricate her.  But I trotted off to the tool-shed, returned with pliers, cut one strand of wire to double the orifice and she was free.

In the middle of the night we were woken by persistent moaning from the dormitory and thought that one of the lambs might have gone through the gate and not been able to get back (they can be a little dense). We got up and went out to investigate. It was "K" again up on the ditch with her head through some wire! As I came up to her, she lost her footing and was suspended in a much less comfortable position than 6 hours previously.  Back for the pliers and with one snip she was free.  Up till now, I've been calling her K for Kate but she it now K for know-nothing and if she doesn't shape up she'll be shipping out to the factory: pyjamas are not proof against stinging nettles Urtica dioica.

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