A sheep farmer stuck in lockdown in New South Wales who was unable to attend his aunt's funeral has honoured her memory with the ultimate tribute: a love heart made from sheep.
Ben Jackson from Guyra couldn't make it to Brisbane to be with his aunt during her final moments after a two-year fight with cancer that began at the start of the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, she didn’t make it,” Mr Jackson said. “At those times of grief, you feel really helpless, you don’t know what to do, what to say.
“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.”
Mr Jackson said the idea for the heart came to him while he was out feeding his sheep “supplementary tucker” as they are “quite pregnant and need a bit of extra TLC”.
Actually making the heart took “three or four” attempts, Mr Jackson said, with his initial efforts turning out less than desirable.
“The first time I tried it looked like the sh*t emoji, I tell you, and whilst my Aunty Deb had a good sense of humour, that wasn’t exactly what I was going for,” he said.
Having created the heart, the video was filmed by drone and sent to his family in Brisbane so it could be overlaid to Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Water and played at his aunt’s funeral.
“When I saw [the final product] I would be the first to admit that there was plenty of waterworks,”Mr Jackson said. “It was very lovely to have it as part of a sendoff. It was certainly something that she would have loved and absolutely cherished.”
Mr Jackson said he first started making his sheep art during a previous drought when he fed his sheep from the back of his flatbed truck every single day.
He soon learned he could draw shapes in the landscape and that the sheep would gather.
“And they haven’t forgotten yet,” he said.
In the past Mr Jackson has created other shapes like a giant ABC logo, though he stressed that the tribute was solely for Aunty Deb.
"I completely get I'm not Robinson Crusoe, I'm not the only person whose doing it tough with lockdown and borders and Covid," he said. "It's a very, very challenging time. And knowing my Aunty Deb, if this sheep art - if it brought a smile to even one person's face, she would be a very proud aunty."
“Certainly the reaction online has been such that, yeah, hey there’s a lot of people doing it tough and need a smile on their dial.”– Guardian