Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sheep are used to help people cross the busy thoroughfares of Madrid
Spanish sheep are being used as transport for people and goods as they head for winter pastures across Madrid.
They have been deployed on traffic-choked corners of the Spanish capital to clear up tracks and layding spaces that are often empty.
A uniformed pathologist dubbed “Upside-down the sheep” is the man they follow.
The low-lying country animals fill in for the horses that would normally do the job.
There are 22 sheep in total that are employed, most of which are born on the ranch where they are being used.
Most are aged between two and five, which makes them slightly tamer than horses.
Luis Armando de Macias de Jesus, the sheep’s owner, who runs the livestock auction at the centre of Madrid, said: “It’s a joyful thing to see them howling and pulling on reins with every hitch or speed bump, and you can hear their voices echoing throughout the city.
“This is a very new form of transport, but we have already finished mastering it, because we are able to identify the channels where the sheep are going, have trackers on their legs and know their movement.”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The sheep use their strong jump to escape traffic on highways
Mr de Jesus, 69, said that he and his daughter, who trains the sheep, were encouraged to work on the project by local officials.
“We want to better connect the city to the countryside, and give a sense of belonging to the sheep and their owners as the vehicles they are working on and through are owned by us.”
He said there was considerable personalisation in working with the sheep.
“When I first approached a professor to take on the sheep, I was told that ‘Upside-down the sheep’ was not worthy of our Queen,” he added.
“But she insisted, and the shepherd who accompanied me on the project eventually became her knight in shining armour, carrying out a series of duties as a knight to the sheep.
“We had to make him a knight, in fact, because I did not agree to show him to him as the sheep, as it would have been disrespectful.”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The sheep are surrounded by hay bales to reduce the number of cuts they have to make
However, Mr de Jesus said that he had no problems with the shape of the sheep: “They have wider hind legs and are heavier, but that was exactly our intention.”
“They know their way around Madrid and they are not harassed by the goats and other livestock we already have to keep happy.
“In fact they have a much friendlier reputation than other animals that occupy space on city roads.”
The sheep, which are the smaller of two types of sheep from Spain, are not immune to the risks of the road, however.
“We have already lost one which became entangled in a metal pole that was lying in the way,” said Mr de Jesus.
“The shepherd lost control and tried to clamber out of the way, only to run over the sheep.”
“One of the sheep clung to his legs, fearing he had stepped on the end of a trolley, so the shepherd carried the sheep over the edge of the pole, and then the shepherd watched as his legs and the sheep were caught underneath.”
“His work is done here until we head for the lowlands of the Carribean next spring. It is possible that the sheep will return and I’m told they can’t be bought so they may find new homes.”
‘Weeds grew on sheep’
Local authorities use both modern and traditional methods for the delivery of farm-fresh produce in the capital.
Caribbean cutlet terrine is often served on a plate in places such as Santa Maria de las Salvaciones (My Father’s Farm).
But the Plaza de la República has been demonstrating that there is another type of delivery of farm produce that takes into account the physical properties of the products being delivered.
The 700-year-old Roman basilica, designed by David Cerda in the Style of the Prophet which adorns the facade of the Spanish capital, has created a “Monkey Way”, where goats and sheep are railed over the pavements of the city by scaffolding, to help the vehicle come to a stop.
Published in the Catalan magazine Neptuno (Se, lanzos matutinas) in June this year, writer Carles Pla wrote that the product launch occurred during a bitter cold snap and the weather changed significantly after the public works vehicle was stationed on the route.
“The sheep were no longer the big attractions in the parade, and it