Australian Farmer Expresses Grief With ‘Sheep Art’ Heart

The sheepherder couldn’t attend his aunt’s funeral, so he made her a huge heart out of hundreds of sheep—and captured it all from above using drone footage

Sheep Heart
Unable to attend the funeral, an Australian farmer made a video of sheep in the shape of a heart to express his grief for his aunt, who died after a two-year battle with cancer. Via James Jackson on Twitter

Expressing grief after the loss of a loved one is challenging. It can also be a creative outlet.

A sheep farmer in Australia found an artistic way to share his feelings after his aunt died by creating a huge heart featuring hundreds of pregnant ewes. Ben Jackson of New South Wales used a drone to video the scene so it could be played at her funeral in Brisbane, which the sheep farmer could not attend because of a Covid-19 lockdown.

“At those times of grief, you feel really helpless, you don’t know what to do, what to say,” Jackson tells Royce Kurmelovs of the Guardian. “Especially in these Covid times, no one can prepare for that border-closure grief, not being able to say cheerio or be there when she passes. It’s pretty difficult.”

Jackson had planned to attend his Auntie Debby’s funeral in Queensland, about 250 miles away, a few days ago. However, the border between the neighboring states was closed to restrict travel because of a coronavirus outbreak.

Frustrated by this turn of events, Jackson decided to show his sorrow through “sheep art,” a technique he has been experimenting with on his farm in Gurya, New South Wales. A few years ago, he started spelling the names of his favorite bands using grain dropped from the back of a truck, reports Rod McGuirk of the Associated Press (AP).

After spreading the feed, the farmer opened the gate to the large pasture and allowed scores of hungry, mostly-pregnant ewes to enter and begin munching away. He captured heart-shaped scene on video, which was later posted on social media. He included her favorite song—Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”—for a soundtrack.

“It took me a few goes to get it right ... and the final result is what you see,” Jackson tells AP. “That was as close to a heart as I could get it.”

Jackson was upset he couldn’t visit Auntie Debby before she died after her two-year battle with cancer. When he found out going to the funeral wasn’t possible either, he decided to send her a sign of his love and affection, reports Frances Man of BBC News.

“I just hope that when I did it, she was having a peep through the clouds and was able to see it,” Jackson says to a local TV station.

The sheep farmer is surprised by the attention his heart-shaped gesture has received. The video has had more than a million views in Australia and the story has been covered by news media around the globe.

“She would be proud as punch to see so many people smiling and enjoying the heart I’ve made for her,” Jackson tells BBC News. “It’s just love. Love’s sensational.”

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