It is a lifestyle? Or a life sentence? Having even the smallest of lifestyle blocks can doom the unwary to a life of unruly sheep, petulant pigs, downright despicable chickens, unfortunate episode involving electric fences, and water pumps that break down on the Friday evening of long weekends. Rachel Wise tells it like it is. Mostly.
I was counting sheep.
Not because I wanted to go to sleep - anyone knowing me knows I have no trouble with sleeping, just with waking up and getting out of bed.
No, I was counting sheep because I thought one of ours was missing.
And it was. Stuffy's son Shakey appeared to have done a runner, and from the way Stuffy was peering into the neighbour's paddock it was no mystery where he'd run off to.
I'm guessing someone had told him there was a sheep-shaped gap in our freezer, but whatever the reason, he'd moved next door and tried to disguise himself as one of the neighbour's flock.
And it was working too, because I couldn't for the life of me tell which one was him. It was confirmed by the neighbour's two children who said yes, he was there. They could even identify him for me.
"He's the one with the fluffy face," they told me, as I looked into a paddock full of sheep with fluffy faces.
"He's the one we don't want you to eat because he's our favourite," they added, making me wonder if Shakey jumped the fence ... or was he pushed?
Either way, Shakey had to come home. I just wasn't sure how to go about it.
Being the haphazard type of lifestyle-blockers, neither of us have sheep yards.
For us it's a matter of running them down the gap between the horse yard and the neighbour's fence, where we have created a makeshift sheep funnel that allows us to squish 'em together and catch whoever needs to be caught.
In practice they squish together so tightly nobody can get in between them to catch one. It's just a solid mass of wool and belligerence.
The alternative is to bribe them into the pig pen, if there are no pigs currently in residence, then shut the gate and flail about trying to grab them as they run, jump and pirouette around the small space like giant woolly pin balls.
After thinking about it for at least a week, I decided on a bit of gentle bribery.
The plan was to wander into the neighbour's paddock, looking nonchalant and carrying a bucket of food.
I knew the neighbours had at least one pet sheep that could be guaranteed to follow a food-bucket-wielding human. And, being sheep, once I had her in tow the rest would follow.
Then all I would need to do would be walk through our gate and veer left into the sheep-funnel, where I would call upon my handy helpers to fish out our sheep and we'd chase the rest home.
The first bit worked.
The second and subsequent parts of the plan failed miserably. All I ended up with was a new best friend in the form of the neighbour's pet ewe, while the other sheep - including ours - peered suspiciously at me from halfway across the paddock.
After a quick conference with the handy helpers they decided it would be best to do it the way real farmers do, and get behind the sheep, shout a bit and clap and wave our hands about and round them up. Properly.
So we did that.
The non-pet sheep all fled, appalled, and the pet sheep came and stood in front of us, patiently waiting for us to stop the silly nonsense and start dispensing sheep pellets and bread crusts like normal humans.
Round and round the paddock the non-pet sheep went, avoiding the gate into the sheep-funnel each time.
More and more handy-helpers were recruited but the attrition rate was high. One of the 9-year-olds was scared of the sheep and there was a 7-year-old sitting in the grass sulking because grandad had shouted "get in behind" at him.
Eventually the dysfunctional human chain managed to push the sheep through the gate and into the sheep-funnel, to cheers and yells of "quick shut the gate!".
Two adults and three children ran to shut the gate just as eight-or-so sheep realised they'd been fooled and wheeled to run back out again.
The humans also wheeled to run but only four made it as one of the 9-year-olds took a sheep to the midriff and went down in a heap.
She was carried off the field of play and parked next to the sulking 7-year-old and I looked down the paddock in despair ... the escaped neighbour's sheep had fled into our paddock instead of their own, and now our two flocks were inter-mingled.
More "rounding up" ensued and eventually the sheep got tired of taunting the humans and strolled into the enclosure.
The gate was closed without further injury and the sorting out - I think real farmers call it drafting - ensued.
Hubby grabbed the sheep one by one, and the remaining 9-year-old, who we deemed to be the expert, would shout "ours" or "yours" and the animal would be dragged through to the relevant paddock.
Shakey stood at the fence line for the rest of the day ignoring his mum and siblings and looking longingly at his adopted flock.
"Don't you bloody dare go through that fence" I told him.
But given there are two 9-year-olds lurking over there with a bag of bread crusts and an agenda ... I wouldn't be surprised.