An Australian sheep farmer, Ben Jackson, could not attend the funeral of his beloved Auntie Deb because of COVID-19 restrictions on travel in the country.

He paid respects in a unique way: dozens of ewes arranged in the shape of a heart. It took more than one take but eventually, Jackson managed to capture the moment on video.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Jackson’s heartfelt tribute to his aunt was played for mourners at her funeral in Brisbane this week, more than 400 kilometres from his home in Guyra, New South Wales.

The drone footage shows pregnant ewes eating barley, unaware that they are participating in Jackson’s tribute. As the sheep coalesce while munching they eventually form a very large heart in an open field.

In his caption for the video, which was posted on 23 August, Jackson said the track layered over the clip was ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon and Garfunkel, one of Auntie Deb’s favourite songs.

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

The farmer discovered that the sheep would form shapes while eating during the drought that gripped Australia during the early days of the pandemic. He spelt out the names of his favourite bands with grain dropped from the back of a truck and observed that the sheep would adopt the shape for several minutes.

“This heart that I’ve done for my auntie, it certainly seems like it’s had a bit of an effect across Australia,” said Jackson in response to the social media reaction to the breathtaking video.

“Maybe we all just need to give ourselves a big virtual hug.”

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