The sky had begun to turn pale and uneaten stubble in the field scratched my legs as we led the flock from their enclosure and started the walk back to the farm. My son held the shepherd’s crook horizontally with both hands, and transformed into a Ninja turtle he yelled and leapt, whilst the sheep kept their distance and a watchful eye on him.
We climbed up the slope through pine trees and old oaks, tripping on roots as we made our way towards the barn. The evening was warm and still and the dust cloud from the sheep hung heavy in the air behind them. As we approached the farm, my son raced on ahead, brandishing the crook whilst hunting for wild boar and other large animals worthy of his Ninja skills.
We followed on behind him at a more sedate pace, enjoying a moment’s calm at the end of the day, the sheep trailing behind us. At the sight of the barn though, they unexpectedly stampeded in their hurry to go home. I hung onto my husband as they pushed past, not wanting to be knocked over and trodden into the dirt.
“Oh my God, le petit!” I yelled, as I chased after the flock, coughing and wheezing in the fog of dust, worrying that my son would find himself in the way, and not certain that he would be big enough to stand his ground. Emerging from the trees into the field behind the barn I stopped. The sheep had quietened and had their noses in the grass, but there was no sign of my seven year old. I shouted, anxious as to where he could be, and then I turned as I heard a clanging noise.
The spare buckets for the digger rested on a palette near the wood pile and as I watched, the end of a crook appeared tentatively from the biggest. My son clambered out, laughing at his clever hiding place. He hadn’t wanted to be squashed by sheep either and on seeing them run, he had legged it into the bucket.
We walked down to the house, and he left the crook reluctantly in the sheep barn on the way past. I washed the dirt off of his hands and knees and put my Ninja Turtle into bed, his eyes still sparkling from the evening’s adventures.