SAVE (Save Animals from Varying Exploitation) have declared that rounding up sheep in New Zealand, using sheep dogs, is cruel.
Cruel, that is, not to the sheep, but to the shepherds.
“That’s right,” said Mr River, “rounding up sheep is incredibly cruel on shepherds, who have to whistle loudly and thereby hold their tongue in unnatural positions for long periods of time.” He paused. “Often in full sun … without nourishment.”
“Well,” I said, “that makes perfect sense to me, but I thought you were supposed to be representing the rights of animals, not humans.”
Mr River glanced furtively around. “Have you ever been close to a shepherd? Anyone who smells that woolly has to be at least part animal.”
I fought to keep my eyebrows from rising. Which is a lot easier now that I’m in my fifties and my eyebrows have diminished at the same rate as my waist has expanded. “But there are millions of sheep in New Zealand, on really steep country. How will we ever muster them?”
“Golfers,” said Mr River. “We’ll turn the high country farms into golf courses and invent a new sport combining golf and sheep mustering. The golfers will aim for the sheep and we’ll muster them that way.”
“But,” I said, “the golf balls will hurt the sheep. They could even kill them.”
Mr River guffawed. “Oh, come on. Since when did a golfer’s ball ever go where they aimed it? The thud of balls behind, beside, or in front of the sheep will be enough to get them going in the desired direction. ”
I opened my mouth but nothing came out. Shouldn’t have spent so long whistling while gardening yesterday, I surmised. Maybe this guy is on to something.
A TV1 van arrived and Mr River scurried away, muttering about pitching wedges and drivers, merinos and southdowns, and breeding for traits such as acute hearing.