Jonathan: No, we don’t give our sheep names though by necessity they have numbers, and that’s generally how we refer to them. But that doesn’t mean to say we don’t see them as unique individuals, each with its own distinct personality. No 8 for example (officially some other unmemorable number – but that’s another story): she’s as bold as brass and cheeky with it ; always first in line for food, but quite independent when it suits her. Unsurprisingly she’s the biggest ewe in the flock, and this year produced a really fine lamb (who has gone to Harris with her half-sisters to start a new flock, and I’m quite sure she’ll take after her mother!). Others rarely come near enough for me to easily read their tags, hanging around at the edge of the flock as others tuck in greedily to sheep nuts or fresh hay, with a self-sufficient air that may just be a mask for chronic timidity (or is it a healthy suspicion of anything to do with humans?). The in-betweeners drift around just out of my reach, licking their lips and even stepping gingerly forward to take a sheep nut from my outsretched hand … but pulling back at the last moment. Such a one was No 15. It was only recently that I was able to get near enough to take hold of her without having to round all the sheep up to do so. She was standing well apart from (and out of sight of) the others – a sure sign of something amiss. She didn’t make much of an effort to escape me and immediately I could see she’d got scour and had lost a lot of weight, even in the few days I’d been away in Harris. I made up some ‘electrolyte’ (50g glucose powder, 5g bicarbonate of soda, 5g table salt, all dissolved in 1 litre of warm water – a universal treatment for diaorhea) and over the next few days that seemed to help. After that she started coming right up to me for food, and if I stood still awhile she’d come up behind me and rest her nose in the palm of my hand. That was last week. This Monday gone – no sooner was I away again in Harris – Denise reported she was bad again, and couldn’t or wouldn’t stand up. After discussing what we should do, D lifted her into a wheelbarrow and took her off down to the high hen house, and made her comfortable with straw. Over the next few days D called in two or three times a day, nursing her slowly back to health. No 15 started to regain some sort of appetite, but was still too weak to get up. But on Thursday she’d given up trying to eat and seemed to be slipping away, and by the time I was back from Harris and got to the croft, she was gone. That’s the first loss of a breeding ewe in three years – we now have 15.