Over the stable door: Case of the disappearing tup

Country Week columnist Jo Foster. Picture by Tony Johnson.

I purchased a new tup some weeks ago. Tris had to borrow a trailer and collect him for me two days after my accident whilst I was laid up in hospital. The tup was turned out to run with my ewes.

I was texting for regular updates throughout but less than an hour after arriving home with Roger the ram, my boyfriend texted back to enquire how many sheep there should be in the field. Here we go I thought, before checking myself. Give it a chance, they can cope without you. I had to chastise myself for drawing pessimistic conclusions when they were trying to help. I rang Tris anyway. “Well. Err… I think your tup might have escaped.”

He rang back some time later as I lay worrying in my sick bed. “Have you found Roger yet?” I yelped. “Yep, eventually…” His account of the search and rescue brimmed with expletives, “…and your damn tup has done my back in”, he groaned.

It turned out Roger was so delighted when he saw the ewes at the opposite end of the field he set off at a rate of knots towards them failing to notice the stream which runs through the field providing a water supply for the livestock. In some places it is dug three feet in to the earth, a precaution taken centuries before to prevent it meandering a swirling route through our peaty pastures

Roger had skipped joyfully towards his new beaus and suddenly vanished, dropping straight into the narrow passage of water where he stood in shock and waited, unable to climb out, until Tris had found him.

My boyfriend had to lift the sopping wet tonne of testosterone fuelled wool out of the ditch and was letting me know he’d paid for the privilege.

Later that afternoon I had a visit from my father. We sat and watched the racing in my room with its views over St George’s Crypt.

As we gazed absently at the screen he told me how he’d set off to the garage in my wagon that morning to change a tyre and glanced in his wing mirror, suddenly noticing a little black figure following him down the main road dodging the traffic.

Baffle my terrier goes everywhere in the horse box and, not used to getting left behind, had followed it down the road waiting for dad to pull over so she could jump in. “It was lucky she didn’t get run over,” he added still staring at horses galloping through the Haydock mud whilst my mouth gaped open with bewildered concern.

“Things are going well then,” I said, sarcasm lacing my tone. “48 hours in hospital and I’ve nearly lost a dog and a tup.” I was relieved the yard staff and jockeys had things under control as far as the horses were concerned.

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