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Farmer’s sheep worry

Lisa King

Farmer’s sheep worry

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SHEEP TRACKS, partially eaten melons and stubs from the corn plants are all that remain of Egbert Maloney’s watermelons and corn crop.
The Chancery Lane, Christ Church farmer is today counting his losses of almost $20 000 after sheep trampled and ate most of what he could have harvested. However, he remains undaunted but wants someone in authority to do something about the almost 20 stray Black Belly Sheep that roam Chancery Lane and surrounding districts.
Maloney said that for close to 25 years he had been suffering because of the animals, and after years of complaining, writing letters, signing petitions and taking legal action he is no better off than when the problem started.
“Many times I went to the owner, policeman went, [the] Ombudsman went. All the people that live in the area signed petitions over the years . . . went from one Ombudsman to a new Ombudsman,” he said.
Maloney said that though he had nearly completed harvesting the watermelon crop, the corn plants, which were planted seven weeks ago and should have been ready to reap in four weeks’ time, never got a chance to bear.
He estimated that the melons lost could have earned him at least $15 000 while the corn could have netted another $5 000, based on current prices.
He also said he planted yellow, orange and red watermelons, with a particular strain of the orange watermelon being grown for the first time.
“It is an experimental crop, so I do not know the true potential of that particular variety,” he said.
Maloney said watermelons sales were usually good and many people requested the orange and yellow melons, suggesting the potential of a niche market since they were new to some people and others would prefer them to the normal red melon.
A frustrated Maloney said that the next chance he got, weather permitting, he would plough up everything and begin again.
Maloney, noting he had in farming “from birth, since his father was a farmer, said he would not be calling it quits.
He said he did not see fencing off the entire area as the solution since securing the three-and-a-quarter-acre plot with barbed wire would cost between $40 000 to $50 000.
He said the occasional horse also trampled the crops while goats climbed the guard walls and ate the flowering plants, so everybody in the area was affected.
The farmer said he had written a letter he would deliver to Member of Parliament for the area Dr Denis Lowe – who was aware of the problem, according to Maloney – in hopes that there would soon be some resolution to the problem.