Ewe to blame
She rose up from the heather and cold bog beneath me and fixed me with her inscrutable eye. He cranked himself to his hind legs, the fore, slow and complaining behind. “It’s a people, dear”. “Where, what ?” “A people - up there.” “Ah,so it is, one of these warm dry things - a people.” From Baal, to Bahomet, to the very Devil himself, this most perfect of God’s creatures (the irony), the wild mountain Celtic goat, has got it in the neck. Loved, adored, worshipped pre-Christianity, loathed and reviled thereafter. Entirely suitable for the north where a clearly good thing is a clearly bad one. And so the way we are to treat it here in the Mournes is to cull it, for sure it breeds some parasite or knits a wilder pullover or speaks some proscribed tongue. This is to let its idiot cousin the sheep, have a bit of slack. The latter is wracked with the diseases humans have bred into it and incidentally some are demonstrating this, atop Meelbeg - one down and three lame enough to go by next month. Him and herself however have to work it all out by themselves, the shearing, the milking, the beasts and pests and the desperate climate. He is golden blonde in ringlets from his top to his cloven toes; she is skewbald and dramatic. Nostrils flare and draw me in from half a mile away. Over a rise and a mass is reached: they stretch to their height and slowly back out on to a blurred ridge - and from the heather, of this year, of this world and of this spot, he clings to them, soft new and the colour of clouds. And if I tell you where he is, I shall have to shoot you. And I will.