Last weekend, I was out for a drive in the countryside. My trusted satnav app ‘Waze’ decided to have a wobble and take me down some winding single-track roads. I was terrified of a tractor coming the other way and squashing my little red car. I followed the satnav down roads that were becoming narrower and increasingly more rural. I drove down one lane that looked like I had just driven through someone’s farmyard.
I was getting close to my destination when from the side of the lane swung a wrought iron gate, and a farmer in his knee-high wellington boots stepped out right in front of me. He was shepherding a flock of sheep and their newly born lambs down the road.
I was stuck and wasn’t going anywhere fast.
The farmer had his cap pulled down over his eyes and didn’t make eye contact with me as I rolled to a stop just before the gate. He was stood with his back to me now. He was trying to shoo his sheep, which were eating grass from the side of the road, down the lane to where another farmer was moving them into another field. Five minutes passed and most of the sheep had moved along. 10 minutes went by. Then, 15 minutes and we were still waiting.
The farmer was guarding his gate, but there was some commotion in the first field. From over the wall, I could see about half a dozen lambs running round and round the edges of the field, whilst the farmer’s wife was chasing them on a quad bike. She was trying, with little success, to herd the frightened lambs down to the road, but they were just running laps of the field. As far as I could tell, the poor things had been separated from their mother and didn’t know what was happening. The wife was shouting, her husband was waving his arms in the air, trying to get the sheep down to the road. The other farmer stood with his head in his hands.
Watching this scene unfold, my worry and frustration about being late turned to laughter. There was nothing I could do but wait. I texted my girlfriend who I was meeting for a distanced walk in the Peak District, telling her I was running a little late – “delayed by sheep”.
I could’ve gotten frustrated and angry. I could’ve complained and honked my horn. But the farmers were in no rush – they live at a different pace of life than most folk. Neither were the sheep. Instead, I chose to savour the moment. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. There was a light breeze and I wasn’t going anywhere fast.
There would be a story to tell at least!
There was nothing I could do. Or so I thought. After nearly 20 minutes, I turned off my engine and got out of the car. I walked over to the farmer and asked him if he needed a hand herding the rest of the lambs. I wasn’t in any great rush I told him. We started into the field but at that very moment, a truck came driving down the lane. He thought it would be better to move the first lot of sheep and then resolve the “lamb problem” later. He thanked me for the offer and shut his gate.
I started back to my car and waved to the truck to thank the driver for waiting. The sheep were trotting into the next field. We were on the move again. I climbed into my car and turned over the engine. Then, I stalled it. The truck behind me honked the horn and I waved another apology.
The sheep and the farmers had something to tell me about patience, after all.
When was a time you were made to wait by something or someone?
What did you do?
What do you do when you are made to wait?