Coffee, sheep, tractors, fine literature and bad rock’n’roll
My lady wife and I were following a tractor and hedge-cutter down a lane. She commented that it didn’t look like a desperately exciting job. My reply was along the lines that tractor driving wasn’t at all exciting. Obviously when things go wrong it can get far too exciting but when done properly it can be a case of chugging along, working long hours and surviving on coffee and with bad rock’n’roll coming out of the radio.
But this morning I discovered that the task had been so soporific that the driver using the hedge-cutter had casually chopped through an old gate that we had used to block a gap. This reopened the gap and over a hundred ewes had wandered through to see what the wider world had to offer.
So I blocked the gap and when to bring the ladies back. This involved me chasing them through the gate and out of one field, onto the lane, and then taking them down the lane through another gate and back into their original field. Both gates opened to block the lane so it was a job I could do on my own.
This was lucky, because these ladies are heavily pregnant. Thus they are pampered. The dog isn’t allowed anywhere near them in case she is a little bit too firm or things get too excitable. Everything is done nicely and quietly and gently.
So I go into the field to drive them out, I’m riding the quad bike. Instantly half of them follow me because I might have food (I told you they were being pampered) and the other half stand and watch because they don’t think I’ve got food so aren’t going to waste time following me. But be damned if they’re going to miss out if suddenly food appears.
So I’m trying to follow the ewes who’re following me and at the same time not upset anybody and also get them to move as a group out through the gate.
So eventually they all turn round and move out of the gate. They have to go the correct way down the lane, because of the gate. But across the lane is a fence. Someone had to take a digger through the hedge and there’s a fence of hurdles across the gap. It’s fine, it’s kept sheep in place for months. No problems.
Except this morning these heavily pregnant ewes who’re not supposed to get too excited hit this fence of hurdles like the tide and just poured over it, flattening it. Shouting the distinctive vernacular phrase “Ya bluidy auld witch” I’m left in the other field watching the chaos develop. So I had to shut the gate behind me, re-arrange the hurdles and get the sheep out of this field and back onto the lane.
Of course at this point some of them started following me again. I suppose you could see their point. Perhaps it was this field that I was going to feed them in. From the sheep point of view this adequately explained why I hadn’t fed them in the previous field. The fact it was them who’d smashed down the fence so they were in this field passed them by entirely. Cattle know when they’re ‘escaped’ or are in the wrong place, and can get all excited or guilty about it. Sheep have no concept of having escaped. They’re just where they are.
So I finally got them moving again, back into the original field that they’d first escaped from. At this point they discovered the food that was waiting for them. A feeder full of silage and a bucket of molasses (when we pamper, we pamper) and they immediately piled round these and started eating. Occasionally stopping to look at me with the sort of expression which said, “About time as well.”
The fact that they’d abandoned both silage and molasses to go ratching about in strange fields was apparently my fault.
But anyway I spent the rest of the morning before the rain hit fixing things they’d damaged in transit. This meant that it wasn’t until dinnertime that I had a chance once more to turn to creating deathless prose.
Admittedly today fine literature and tackling the eternal verities will probably be something on rural fuel poverty but we cannot have everything.
But if you fancy a bit of quality writing and have the princely sum of £0.99 to spend, ‘The Cartographer’s Apprentice’ is still available.