Talking about dead sheep with an 11-year-old

On holiday in southern Germany last week the little red-haired girl and I are cycling a long, slow, straight line uphill through cornfields, plum and apple orchards, vineyards and pasture on the way to her horse-riding lesson. Brought up on the flatlands of northern Germany she wimps out on anything above a 2% grade, so we had a lot of time to get a good long look at the herd of sheep munching and bleating away on the left.

One of them wasn’t doing much munching or bleating. Actually, he was more or less sunning himself, flat on his back in the centre of the field.

Looks like that sheep’s out to get a tan instead of a meal, I tell her.

You mean the one in the middle there?

Sure, that one there lying on its back. You know what, it hasn’t moved a bit since we first saw it. Maybe it’s dead?

It could be. They say that if a sheep lies on its back, the weight of the internal organs pushes on to the heart so much, it stops beating.

Really? Aw come on, don’t gimme that! Where did you hear a thing like that?

I read it in Wendy.

Wendy? But that’s a horsie magazine for girls! (starting to get giggly together now) What on earth are they doing talking about sheep in a horse magazine?

I don’t know, you can look it up when you get home.

But you’ve got about 500 of them back home you picked up for two euros at that flea market. What, I’m supposed to find the one page in the whole stack of Wendies that talks about dead sheep? (Adopting squeaky professorial voice.) Wendy’s Fun farm fact! A sheep will die if it lies on its back.

Stop it! (She nearly falls of the bike.)

Maybe I could look it up in the Enyclopedia of Dead Sheep we packed along with our toothbrushes and combs?


Stop what?

Stop being funny! I can’t ride!

OK. But seriously, can that be true? And anyway, why would a sheep roll over onto its back in the first place?

I don’t know. But I’m sure I read it somewhere.

Maybe it only happens to really fat ones.

8 Responses to “Talking about dead sheep with an 11-year-old”

  1. August 21, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    I know how little red haired girl feels! I nearly fell off my desk chair, which is rather like a bike as it has wheels, you know. Hope the sheep was just having a snooze. Are you back? The Hamburg park in the previous post is simply gorgeous. I do miss greeny tree-y places at times.

  2. August 21, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Wah! Poor sheepy. However, I did find your conversation with your daughter hilarious. It sounds not unlike the philosophical discussions I have on a daily basis.

  3. August 22, 2008 at 7:59 am

    Good to know that your daughter and you share the same sort of dark humour. Isn’t it surprising when you realise how great this is? My brother’s son has aspergers, and I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but his sense of humour is not easy to share.

    Having lived five years in southern Germany, I really get your hills and bicycle dilemma. I swear there are only hills to climb and none to coast down. That is why I love living up north. The only hills are the heights of the waves.

  4. August 22, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Serious design flaw.

  5. August 23, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Hi Muse – the sheep isn’t just kippin’ on his back, isn’t resting, nor does it have beautiful plumage. It’s dead. It stayed like that for more than half an hour.

    Charlotte – I was thinking you have three times the chance to get into that type of discussion, but then again, don’t you get a lot of interruptions, too?

    lilalia – that was the great part of going to pick her up from horse-riding: it was indeed downhill all the way.

  6. August 24, 2008 at 2:21 am


    Well, at least it wasn’t a tearful event!

  7. August 24, 2008 at 8:33 pm


    I posted lighthearted reply on my blog, to your previous question about Stuff White People Like. I noticed you stopped by, but didn’t comment. Trust I haven’t offended you–I am looking forward to some spirited comment-banter!

  8. August 24, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Let the banter begin! I somehow missed that post, but have now duly commented.

    BTW, are you going to the bloggers’ weekend?
    (waves back)

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