When my 11-year-old nephew George came to stay, he brought his shepherd’s crook. He has his own flock of sheep in Northumberland, and he was keen to see how our South Downs compared. Charming and laconic, he eyed our flock up critically, pointed at one and said ‘a bit lame’. Without another word, he was off across the field and, before they, or I, knew what was happening, George had them cornered in their shed.

I was instructed to block the exit, and, with the accuracy of an Olympic archer, he had hooked the patient by a hind leg and whipped her onto her back in no time. With his spare hand, he took out his special knife and expertly trimmed all the hooves. The ewe trotted off happily.

George’s brother Toby confided that our diminutive breed were perfect for the young farmer. The ones at home are rather big and he can’t yet quite get them on their backs on his own. Later that evening, I took the boys lamping. Six shots, six rabbits. The next day, they shot and plucked a brace of pigeon for their grandparents. These two boys are well equipped for the credit crunch.R