I like to keep life simple. With 4 home educated kids and a flock of sheep, it can get complicated enough some days. So when reading through the papyri methods, I decided I would choose less complicated sounding ones, and when I spotted one using sheep urine, I was sold.
We have a flock of 46 sheep that we inherited with a couple of friends a few years ago. They are mostly large Cotswolds, Lleyn and crosses between these two breeds, 3 Lincolns and 3 little Shetlands.
They were bucket trained from lamb on, which basically means they recognise the bucket as a source of food and, as such, are easy to move from one field to the next, come when called, and especially the older ones all know their name. They love their cuddles, are keen to rummage through your pockets in the hopes of finding a treat or two, and if they could they would climb on your lap and rub against you much like the average family cat or dog would do.
In a commercial flock of sheep there is very little human contact and sheep will generally walk away from people. Not so with our lot! You rarely need to introduce new things carefully as they have seen it all.
So if you had told me six months ago that I would curse the fact that we have our sheep bucket trained I would not have believed you! But here we are…
I foolishly thought that collecting their urine would be easy peasy. I had an almost romantic notion of getting one or two separated, and I would just wait for them to start urinating and catch it in a bucket of sorts. It would be effortless, because our sheep are so tame. Wrong!
Any bucket for them is a sign for food. It apparently doesn’t matter if this bucket is clear, blue, or red, or if it isn’t actually a bucket at all but a bowl, or a scoop, or even a cut down milk bottle. Both the sheep that is currently urinating and any other sheep even remotely close will dive for that bucket because FOOD! And much like Labradors, sheep are apparently never fed.
This has resulted in getting no more than about a shot glass full of urine at a time making things far more complicated than I had ever imagined!
On the flip side, it has resulted in much hilarity for my partner when I go out with my “pee pot” to do my daily collection. I don’t think I have ever been so covered in muck, knocked over or peed on as much as since I started my collections.
Next time I will choose a project that only involves our sheeps’ wool and no other involvement from them!
Vera Hoenen – Wiltshire, England