It’s been a day of small surprises so far. I was on the quad taking feed to sheep. Because sheep will follow the quad and trailer, I led them over the hill into part of the field out of sight of sheep in other fields. This is because sheep in one field will occasionally crash through the hedge to get to the food that you are giving to another lot. Hence there is an art to working out just which group to feed first and where.
Anyway on the way back to the road, with an empty trailer I just opened the quad up a bit and discovered that Sal can run at 28mph for a couple of hundred yards and keep up with the quad. It’s a better turn of speed than I could manage.
Anyway the last bunch of sheep I had to feed this morning was the ewes who’ve been turned out with their lambs. I tend not to take Sal with me when I do these. When the lambs are very young, the ewes can be very protective and spend time glaring at the dog and stamping a front foot aggressively at her rather than coming to get the feed.
So with just me and two buckets of feed I went into the field. Immediately those ewes who saw me headed in my direction. I put the feed down in small heaps along the hedge line as I walked and the ewes dived in and started eating.
Now there is a minor problem here. Because there was no dog and hence no threat, the ladies weren’t too worried for their lambs. They just abandoned them and ran for the feed, on the grounds that the first there is best fed. The lambs, who haven’t been outside very long, stood aghast as mum disappeared. Then they pulled themselves together and ran after her, bleating.
I made it to the gate and there met a chap who was walking his dog. He asked why there was so much noise coming from the field. I explained that the lambs recognise their mother by her face and voice as well as by her scent. So when faced by a row of backsides they were a bit lost and wasn’t sure which one was theirs.
He thought briefly and commented, “I doubt I could recognise my wife’s in a line up either.”
What do I know? Speak to an expert on these matters
The fourth of these collections of anecdotes, rants, pious maunderings and general observations on life. Yes we have dogs, quads, sheep and cattle, but in this one we follow the ‘lambing year.’ It starts with ewes being put to the tup in late autumn and finishes in summer with the last of the laggards lambing.
But as well as this we have endless rain, as well as sleeping in a manger. Be brave and you’ll meet young ladies in high heeled cowboy boots, Sir John Moore of Corunna, brassieres for cows, and, incidentally, David Essex.
As a reviewer commented, “This book charts a year in the life of a Cumbrian sheep farmer. It’s sprinkled with anecdotes and memories of other years. Some parts (especially when featuring Sal, the Border Collie) were so funny as to cause me to have to read them out loud to my husband. It’s very interesting to read these things from the pen of the man who is actually out there doing it – usually in the rain! A very good read.”