Shane’s favourite workers
When the ride-on mower died, that was it.
“I let the sheep take over lawn-mowing! At night I lock up doors and just let them out to graze around the greenhouses.”
In the winter he admits to getting a bit lax. One time he turned up and his sheep were gone.
“Gee, where’s my sheep. I hunted the whole boundary and thought, ‘someone’s stolen my sheep!’ Then all of a sudden I saw a white shape moving in the greenhouse.”
The doors had blown open in the night, the sheep had got in, then the doors had blown shut after them. When Shane found them, they had chewed out the beans – strings included – and were feasting on the parsley.
“I thought if I left the door open they’d wander out, but it took four or five days to get them out. They were enjoying it, they wanted to stay.”
At the end of the season Shane rips out the tomato plants to the delight of his well-fed sheep, who will munch on the unpicked fruit for days.
The flock is made up of Romney-southdown ewes, prodigy of a fine-looking ram that turned up on a mate’s hillside, badly in need of a shear and lame with footrot. According to Shane, his sheep scoff everything, especially his orchard feijoas which rarely get to hit the ground.
“I’ve seen them stand on each others’ backs to get them. Beans are the favourite – beans are the ultimate.
“They’re not so keen on bitter melon.” The clue might be in the name.