It’s funny what you learn as you grow older. I now know that a lady can wear a skirt when playing on a bouncy castle and still maintain both dignity and decency. I’ve also discovered that I’m not happen as young as I was.
But it’s sort of been a busy few days. On Saturday I gave a hand with shearing sheep. I’m not the one with the clippers. That is a young man’s game, and probably a short young man’s game as well to be honest; all then bending and pulling hammers your back. There were three lads doing the shearing, working on a trailer, with the ewes in a race behind them. The procedure is kept simple. Grab ewe out of race, clip ewe, kick fleece onto sheet for someone to roll and release ewe to join her mates. Grab next ewe in the race. Repeat.
It was hot, the sheep are heavy, and my job was pushing ewes into the race. So I got to fill the race then I had time to spit before the shearers had finished their ewes and made enough room in the race for me to put some more in. But the shearers just didn’t stop. They work damned hard for their money.
You might imagine that when shearing you don’t need a lot of clothes. But given that sheep collect briars in their fleeces, you wear decent long trousers (which end up waterproof with all the lanolin) and normally a vest. We did have one disappointed lady who commented that she’d expected to see a fine selection of well muscled and bronzed ‘six-packs’ but actually the lads today don’t do the amount of fork and shovel work we used to do. So whilst I’d say they were fit, they fell short of her definition of ‘fit’.
Anyway we got all the sheep clipped, called in at ‘The Derby’ for a pint, which went down well and then I went home to get on with some work. Next day as I rolled out of bed I found I was stretching carefully, like an old dog. Starting at one end and waiting to see which bit cracked next. As I said, I’m not happen as young as I was.
But then we had to go to a bit of a do. A lot of little kids and a bouncy castle, and much to my surprise, a lady who kicked off her heels and went onto the castle in a skirt to ensure the littlest ones were OK. And it is true, if you know what you’re doing, you can go onto a bouncy castle in a skirt and still leave everything to the imagination.
And then there was the little lass who stood there studying the whole situation. You know how something or someone looks familiar and you just cannot place them? Well suddenly I realised where I’d seen her. Remember the ‘Charlie Brown’ cartoons by Charles M. Schulz? She was an absolute spit of the little girls in that, even down to the expression.
Certainly if in the next year or so if she is looking for someone to kick the football she is holding, she can ask someone younger and less well read.
Then you could always speak to an expert!
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As a reviewer commented
I haven’t been near a farm in decades – but I buy every book Jim puts out because of the sweet quality of his stories about running a working farm in Britain. For a fourth-floor apartment dweller, it’s a way out into the wide open spaces, fields with hedges and cows and sheep, and lanes with gates left open by ignorant tourists.
And about Billy, the working farm cat, and Sal, the working farm dog – and the various ministries which before and after Brexit make farmers lives… interesting. You get all kinds of extras: exactly when you need to move the sheep where so the next year’s grass will be edible for the cows; what is necessary to keep the church graveyard tidy (no, it is not a string grass cutter) because Jim is also the church warden; and what to do with Belgian tourists ‘borrowing’ a sheep to take selfies for a motor rally. And the fun of making a whole line of cars back up because the lanes are narrow, the sides limited for stone walls and thick hedges, and it being much hard to back the tractor up!
He is just so matter of fact about the job that is his life’s work that you want to go help, and then sit by the fire later with him.”