The lady I buy eggs from told me, as she grabbed a boxful from her kitchen cupboard and handed them over, that she had two new tups in the field next to the pigs.
“They’re quite tame,” she said. “They used to belong to some children up the road. You should go and say hello to them. You can go right up and stroke them.”
When I reached the gate, I was confused by what I saw. Tups are rams, but these animals are twice the size of the other sheep around here, with distinctly goat-looking patterning.
I spoke to them gently as I approached. The smaller one hung back, but the larger one sat placidly until I reached him, and leaned into my hand when I stroked his head and neck. I knelt in the grass beside him, enjoying his friendliness. I recalled something the Pig Man had said back in April.
“We’re getting some llamas next.”
“Are you serious?” I had goggled.
“No,” he’d chuckled. “We might get a couple of goats, though, to eat all these weeds.”
Whether these tups be goats or sheep, the pigs are fascinated by them, and followed them up and down the fence, grunting with enthusiasm. The sheepgoats seemed to make a point of grazing right up close to them.
A clue to their identity lay beside the stable door: freshly-shorn fleece – two animals’ worth. But then, some goats have fleece. Angoras, for example.
Suddenly, I clocked the lovely long dangly tails the tups were sporting.
“The difference between a goat and a sheep,” our friend Shaunette had once informed me, “is that goats have tails that stick up, and sheep have tails that hang down”.