Aussie mourns aunt with heart-shaped ewes

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. pay (one’s) respects / peɪ rɪˈspɛkts / (idiom) – to express one’s sympathy, especially to the family of someone who’s died

    Our teacher passed away, so we visited his wife to pay our respects.

  2. ewe / yu / (n.) – an adult female sheep

    We have a total of 30 sheep here on our farm. Twelve of them are ewes.

  3. go / goʊ / (n.) – an attempt at doing something

    It took me a few goes before I learned how to make a perfect hat.

  4. monotonous / məˈnɒt n əs / (adj.) – boring because something doesn’t change

    I usually drink some coffee to stay awake while doing monotonous tasks like organizing files.

  5. flock / flɒk / (n.) – a group that’s made up of the same kind of animals, such as sheep, goats, or birds

    We saw a flock of wild turkeys!


Read the text below.

An Australian farmer couldn’t go to his aunt’s funeral in late August because of pandemic restrictions, so he paid his respects with a novel alternative: dozens of sheep arranged in the shape of a love heart.

Drone-shot video of pregnant ewes munching barley in a paddock while unwittingly expressing Ben Jackson’s affection for his beloved Auntie Deb was viewed by mourners at her funeral in the Queensland capital, Brisbane.

Jackson was 430 kilometers away at the time, locked down at his farm in the town of Guyra, in the state of New South Wales.

“It took me a few goes to get it right … and the final result is what you see. That was as close to a heart as I could get it,” Jackson said on Aug. 26.

Jackson started experimenting with making shapes with sheep to relieve the monotonous stress of hand-feeding livestock during a devastating drought across most of Australia that broke in the early months of the pandemic.

He discovered that if he spelled the names of his favorite musical bands with grain dropped from the back of a truck, then the flock would roughly adopt the same shape for several minutes. (AP)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Jackson was 430 kilometers away from his aunt’s funeral in Brisbane because he was in lockdown at his farm. Do you think there should be exceptions for people with sick family members or people who need to go to funerals? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Jackson paid his respects using dozens of sheep arranged in the shape of a love heart. What do you think about this (ex. creative and heartwarming, a bit silly)? If you had to pay your respects to someone far away, how would you do it (ex. record a video, paint a picture)? Why? Discuss.


Discussion B

  • Jackson is able to get his flock to adopt the shape of a heart and even the names of his favorite bands. Do you think he should offer this as a paid service? What shape or word would you like to request (ex. a smiley face, “marry me”)? Why? Discuss.
  • Jackson discovered that he could form shapes with sheep because he was bored. Have you ever discovered something interesting because of boredom? What do you like to do when you’re bored? Why? Discuss.