East Anglia: Lost sheep mystery deepens

THE mystery of two “missing ewes” on an East Anglian farm has become a rather lengthy detective story.

For Jane Bell, the arrival of two runaway sheep at Scarrow Beck Farm, Erpingham, Norfolk, has become rather tiresome because the two sheep have defied every effort to be caught. “They’re rather outstaying their welcome,” said Mrs Bell, who has tried to contact every known sheep farmer in the district. “They’re both tagged but we can’t get close enough to read the numbers.”

Her husband, George, this year’s president of the Aylsham Agricultural Show Association, has also helped with the attempted round-up.

The two sheep, nicknamed Chop and Shoulder, were found last weekend. Mrs Bell, 63, said: “Our son Jeremy and daughter-in-law Kirstie were out for a walk with the dogs when they came across the animals. I don’t know who was more surprised – them or the sheep.” They managed to round them up into the Bell’s meadow, which has since been their temporary home.

Despite phone calls to friends in the farming community, a Facebook plea and an inquiry to the police – who say they have received no reports of missing sheep, the two animals remain in the sheep-proofed field.

There have been reports that the animals were seen five miles away in Hanworth on February 6 and three miles away in Mannington on Friday, February 17.

“And they look like they want to keep on travelling,” said Mrs Bell.

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Mr Bell, also 63, and is the former chairman of buying group Anglia Farmers, said the closest he had been to them was 50 yards away.

He emphasised that they did not want to keep the sheep. “We don’t want them to become their namesake either,” he said. One ewe is a Soay.

“If we can’t find the owner then we would like to try and re-home them.”

n A total of 58 farms from Norfolk to Cornwall have had Schmallenberg virus (SBV) confirmed. It includes 14 in Norfolk, 10 in Suffolk in sheep. There have been a single case in cattle in Norfolk and Suffolk.

n Details - email Mrs Bell at jane.sbf@gmail.com or 01263 761241.