Born in a year of the goat (or sheep), I've looked after them off and on since I was 21 when I spent a summer on a Breton farm belonging to a travelling circus. Later that summer, in a valley near the Gorges du Tarn, I helped usher them into a barn as a storm drummed its way towards us. In spring 2019 I looked after a house in Mallorca with a resident flock of sheep and packs of goats. The sheep were gentle and skittish, the goats wild and fast. I am a wood goat. We like peace.
Sheepcote valley, just up the hill from me, is a grazing spot for Sussex sheep. They add deep country dreams to this urban fringe, so often parked-on, set alight, dumped on and rutted by tyres. They clear brambles and invite conversation as they turn their heads to the path. Then they turn up in mosaics, on cards, badges, venerated for their stoicism, their place in the hills.