The British Association of Sheep Diviners (BASD) says that it has experienced an "unprecedented" upsurge in interest in recent days, as farmers resort to increasingly desperate measures to rescue flocks that remain trapped under metres of snow.
Although Sheep Divining has been dismissed by many as a bizarre and outdated pseudoscience, farmers in some of the worst hit areas in the country have become firm believers in the practice. "It's like water divining, but with sheep," explained Cumbrian farmer David Smith, who used a Sheep Diviner to help locate over twenty of his sheep trapped in the snow during the last big freeze. "They walk out on the snow with their hazel rods and then, when they feel that there is a strong presence of sheep under the surface, the rod starts twitching and they tell us to dig a hole there to find the sheep. It worked for me every time."
The upturn in demand has taken the BASD totally by surprise. "We've been getting calls from all over the country," said James Cunningham, who has been the President of the Association for over fifty years. "We really don't know what to do. We used to be out all the time in the 1950s but then people just started laughing and throwing things at us so we only have about ten members left now and one of those is my uncle Robert, who's technically dead."
This chronic shortage of Sheep Diviners has angered many farmers and has led to calls for the Agriculture Minister to resign. "This is typical of a Tory government letting down small farmers," said Freddy Hunter, head of the National Farmers' Union. "We have repeatedly told them about the difficulties of locating sheep in an all-white environment and they have repeatedly ignored us. I dread to think what those poor little lambs are going through out there in the cold and I just hope that they can be rescued alive in time to get them to the meat factory next Wednesday."