Tag Archives: auld witch

Casually discarded Calvin Klein Underwear and the risks every white witch must face.

 

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All right, they may not have been casually discarded. But discarded they obviously were.

I suppose at this point we may need a context. I was walking down the road heading for town. There are various parts of my route which are scenic, and there are other bits where the nicest thing you can say for them is the verge is very wide.

There at the side of the road, not really on the verge, not really on the road, was a pair of discarded Calvin Klein underpants.

I suppose it’s one of those things that can provoke thought. How exactly did they come to be discarded? After many years of experience I can say with confidence that when I’m fully dressed it is pretty well impossible for them to fall off by accident.

What is the drama behind this incident? Have we a case of the wandering, kilt-clad Scot who suddenly getting back in touch with his inner manifest destiny, to the skirl of pipes played by a piper heard only by himself, cast the offending garment away and walked off without them, kilt swinging proudly and only a little chilly.

Or was our Scot a man so thrifty that he kept them until the elastic finally gave up the ghost, and rather than abandoning them, they abandoned him?

Or has news leaked out that Calvin Richard Klein has done something, sponsored somebody or whatever that the wearer of these pants found so offensive that before the news broadcast had even finished than he tore his trousers off, removed the offending underpants and cast them contemptuously aside.

 

One of the advantages of living in a rural area is that you see aspects of people they never display elsewhere. I was checking young stock one morning. This involves walking from field to field meeting and greeting. I climbed over the gate from one field to walk along the lane to the next field and there, in the lay-by, was an assemblage of female underwear plus a pair of long boots.

After some thought I decided that I’d better mention it to the police, because you never know. A WPC came down in a car and I showed her to the place. She surveyed the underwear, bra, pants, and the really long boots.

As the WPC said, it wasn’t the underwear of a lady who should casually discard anything structural.

But they’d not had any disappearances reported and nobody had reported the clothing missing.

The only clue was that the clothing had been rained on, so it had to have been discarded the previous evening. After some thought the WPC came up with the suggestion that actually what we had was evidence of a white witch who had been dancing sky-clad to bring on the rain.

When the rain actually came, (pretty heavily if I remember correctly,) She’d just shrugged on a few clothes, dived into the car and had driven off, forgetting the rest. Certainly she couldn’t have put the boots on in a hurry.

Well it made as much sense as any other theory that I’d heard.

♥♥♥♥

I’m not claiming it was all about a woman in love, but it might have been.

As a reviewer commented, “As usual, the storyline is well executed, in a deceptively causal tone, the characters believable and the conclusion contains a clever little twist making the whole read very enjoyable.
I love the way I learn a little more about the City, its inhabitants and customs, as well as the main characters, with every book.
Excellent little details about things like the local wines, food and clothes also add and enhance the story.
I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.”

Ya Bluidy Auld Witch mk 2

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Yes, it’s that time of year again. Lambing has started for us. We’re a lot later than last year. The reasons are largely economic. Early lambing is expensive. The ewes need more feeding to carry them through the winter, and once they’ve lambed they need more feeding to enable them to milk well enough to feed their lambs.

Alternatively you can just wait until later and let the grass grow, and that goes towards reducing the costs and the feed bill.

Obviously the price is normally better for earlier lambs, but last year it wasn’t. Last year I was tempted to seize the moral high ground and claim we were a not-for-profit enterprise. If we could get away with that we’d be able to ask people to donate on our webpage and they’d get a warm glow of smug self satisfaction as well.

Actually the way the weather is, it’s the only warm glow anybody is going to get. It’s one of the bizarre things about sheep that wet weather does get them lambing. Whether in some distant past predators would look out of their den, watch the rain blowing past in sheets, and mutter, “Blow this for a game of soldiers”, before curling  back up and going back to sleep, I don’t know. But the minute the weather got wetter, the ewes started to lamb. We had the first outlier on Easter Sunday, nothing for a couple of days and then the deluge. In more ways than one.

I must admit I thought that with the fine fortnight we had, the ground had dried up a bit, but frankly that was an illusion. A couple of wet days and everything is back to standing water again. The water table must still be very high.

But the miracle of birth continues. Given it’s sheep we’re talking about it’s a miracle punctuated by ewes who decide somebody else had nice lambs so she wants those. Or she decides to skip the entire lambing business and just steal another ewe’s lambs. Or else she looks at her own lambs and just panics and flees.

One morning I went into the shed relatively early in the morning to discover about eight lambs and five ewes playing happy families. Given that they weren’t sure who belonged to whom, I’m not sure how I was expected to sort it out. It’s one of those occasions when you just want to quietly close the door and tiptoe away, leaving it for the Grown-ups to sort out.

Isn’t it a beggar when you discover that now, actually, you are the grown-up? Suddenly you realise that there isn’t much chance of a proper grown-up, you know, a more grown-up grown-up coming along, because it’ll still be you.

 

But anyway, if you like the picture, it’s a painting by a very talented lady, Pat Porter. She has a website which you might fancy a look at, it’s at http://www.patporter-art.net/

 

And if you want a good book

 

And from everybody else

https://books2read.com/b/mggzxz

As a reviewer commented, “Once in a while a book really gets to you. Jim Webster’s book Sometimes I just Sits and Thinks has done just that to me. Jim is a farmer in the English county of Cumbria. His sense of humour shines throughout each episode. If you come from farming stock as I do, this is the book for you. In my mind’s eye I was out there with Jim and his faithful Border Collies Jess and Sal. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book…”

So this is what best selling authors get up to

(c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

I know many people have asked whether the easy wealth and international jet-setting lifestyle will spoil me so I thought that I’d better give you some idea of how my morning is spent. Obviously palm-fringed beaches, the pool, the beach-bar, the beach babes all come into it at some point, but remember this is Cumbria, not the Caribbean.

So first I clean the ashes out of the fire bottom and get the fire going. I take the ashes outside and it’s raining. Such is life. On Sunday the ground was drying up nicely, on Monday when I fed sheep the ground was so dry it was a pleasure. Then it rained. And it rained, and, in case you missed it, it rained.

So breakfast, coffee, and out. Except that it isn’t raining, it’s snowing; huge sodden flakes of it which don’t so much flutter down as splat on impact. Never mind, waterproofs were designed for days like this. Get the quad out, put it on the trailer, and up to the barn where some of last years lambs are being housed in the vague hope that inside they might put on weight. Feed them and put silage in the trailer for a bunch of ewe lambs who are still outside and hopefully will run with the tup next back-end. Chop a bit of fodder beet over the silage to boost the energy and off we go. The minute I leave the road we indulge in the ‘bambi on ice’ experience. It isn’t merely that the snow has melted (and it’s now raining again) but the ground is sodden. We’re on top of a hill here, the soil is well draining, and there is water standing because it’s nowhere to go. So I find a relatively dry bit and scatter the silage about for the ewe lambs who at least greet it enthusiastically.

Then it’s back to get some fodder beet for the lambing ewes. Their silage is already in a ring feeder and that’s still got plenty in.

So eventually, I’ve seen everybody, made sure everybody’s fed, and of course by now it’s stopped raining. So peel off the soaking over-trousers and hang them up so they’ll be dry next time I need them. Peel off the soaking jacket and put it to dry. Take off shirt and jumper and put them on the cooker rail so their wet patches dry. Make coffee and drink the same.

You know what, this international fame and stardom, plus of course the compulsory adulation of the masses, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Hence if you get a chance, then do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy of ‘Tomb-yard Follies.’

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tomb-yard-Follies-Port-Naain-Intelligence-ebook/dp/B01BU40ZJU

 

Then you achieve two important results. The first is that you have something fun to do rather than watching telly because the weather is miserable. The second is that you help give me a chance to prove to the world that I am so well grounded that unimaginable wealth (or at least my share of your 98p) will not spoil me.

Treat yourself, you know it makes sense.

Sheep may safely graze

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So here we have it, snow! OK it’s not snow as Canadians would call snow, it’s not even snow as we call snow to be honest but it’s white, it’s almost crisp, and it isn’t quite thawing so quickly that it’ll be gone before this blog is written, so it’s snow.

 

And it has all sorts of effects. This morning going to church the sky was blue, everything was crisp and clean. An hour later the temperature had risen a couple of degrees and a wall of cloud was drifting inexorably in from the west.

So I had a coffee and went to look sheep. They were fine, but the hay I’d put out yesterday on the off-chance they fancied something extra had all gone. So I filled the quad-trailer with hay and set off to spread a little fibrous happiness.

And the snow has brought out all sorts of people, mothers and daughters, sensibly clad and well shod walk along in deep discussion. Above them the sky grows darker yet. The cloud now covers from horizon to horizon and in the west it’s growing very black indeed.

And as I put the last hay out for a group of hopefully heavily pregnant ewes I was on top of the hill. To the east, over the bright expanse of Morecambe Bay, I could see Ingleborough in the distance and the white clad Pennines fading away beyond the edge of visibility. I looked west. The flare from the gas terminal was a brilliant orange against the black of the sky. Combine this with the fields still white in the foreground and the sheep picking happily amongst the hay, it highlighted quite a spectacular picture.

In the westerly gales the flare gets blown sideways and in all sorts of directions, the entire sky can be orange. Occasionally if the wind just catches it right, you can see the eye of Sauron watching over our huddled ewes.

 

♥♥♥♥

Welcome to the world of the Border Collie, now available in paperback as well as kindle

 

It’s wet!

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It’s been raining.

When I say raining I really mean it’s been chucking it down. Even for Cumbria, it’s been wet. I was looking sheep this morning. I set off, in full waterproofs and the first job was to collect the Sal to take her with me. Normally she’s standing outside her kennel full of enthusiasm; indeed she can leap four feet into the air from a standing start in her delight that we’re going to be doing something.

Her Kennel by the way is an old cattle trailer. She has a big plastic drum inside that which is really snug and she does sometimes sleep in. But normally she’ll sleep under the trailer. And this morning she watched me approach the trailer and crawled out from under it at the last possible moment to join me in our walk through the rain.

And the rain continued to fall. It was so bad I was reminded of that bit from Winnie the Pooh where the rain is so bad the pages of the book start to run!

First down onto the Mosses to check some old ewes with a tup down there, it’s wet. All the hollows are full of water, and when Sal had wandered off and I called her back to me she took a long and complex path to avoid having to wade to get to me. But the ewes seem to be happy moving about on the drier bits and it’s not as if there’s a risk of genuine flooding.

Then off to see the others. Walking through one field the path I was walking along was under six inches of water and the water was moving. We’ve had so much rain that not only is the ground saturated, but it’s starting to flow across the surface to run off.

The other ewes weren’t too pleased to see me either. I think the endless rain has made them irritable. They moved together into a huddle and glared at me. Every so often one of them would shake herself, pretty much like a dog does. Because of the lanolin in their fleece the water doesn’t really soak in to the wool so when a wet sheep shakes herself, you can see the cloud of water thrown off.

And then in for coffee; discard wet clothes and put stuff to dry. It has to be said that there are times when I tell myself that it would be good to get a few cattle again. Build up a small suckler herd, buy some half-bred Hereford heifer calves and rear them, bull them with Angus. Quality meat, easy calving, sell it direct to consumers in freezer packs. It would be more of a hobby than a business to be honest. But it’s on days like this, when I think of the work with housed cattle, and the problems of getting slurry out when the ground is waterlogged; I just sigh as I sip my coffee in front of the fire.

 

Really it’s the day for a good fire and a good book. The fire you’ll have to do for yourself, but strangely enough I can manage the good book.

 

Just published, 99p on Kindle (or other e-readers)

‘A Much Arranged Marriage.’

Another short detective story from the Port Naain Intelligencer.

Go on, treat yourself, have you looked outside the window?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Much-Arranged-Marriage-Naain-Intelligence-ebook/dp/B018R5SOI4/

much arranged marriage

The perfect body.

sheep-shearing

 

Ah, but the problems of body image. In spite of all the advertising by organisations like Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Loxottica, Versace, or Yves Saint Laurent, what sticks in mind is a comment made to me by an old farmer looking at a pen of bullocks. “If it’s got a backside like your mother and shoulders like your father, it’s doing alright.”

But we were shearing sheep the other day. Sheep have been wearing the same jacket since last June. Some of them are starting to look a bit ragged around the edges. Others still have a full firm fleece and look like a big solid sheep.
So buggerlugs here pushes them into the race. This leads up onto the shearing trailer where two lads, younger and fitter than me, are doing the actual shearing.

If you get it right, some nearly knock you out of the way in their haste to keep up with the rest of them, running up the ramp without me having anything to do with it. Others dig their feet in and have to be pushed up.

And then they meet the shearer. Up until this point they’re almost defined by their fleece, at least to a non-shepherd like me. The amount of wool, the way it hangs, the gaps, the smit marks, produce an image which might just mean I can recognise the animal.

Then, a short while later, sheared, the animal leaps down off the trailer, a lighter and somewhat different animal. Some of them are revealed to be big, thickset ewes, solid, even plump. Others are less well built, some are even scrawny. At this stage in the proceedings I suspect even the lambs are a bit nonplussed by it all and check first before making any assumptions as to just who is mum.

And as we’re taking them back out into the field, the scrawny one at the back stops to check that it still has two lambs. And the shepherd points to her and says, “Bluidy good ewe that. Two damned good lambs every year and she rears them well.”

♥♥♥♥

Others obviously have their opinions as well

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.”

Working for the Bank?  

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Somehow bank holidays have always rather passed me by.

Being self employed all my life they were an irrelevance and when I employed people they were a damned nuisance.

I remember one morning getting into the house after finally finishing morning milking. Because of electrical problems I’d managed to finish milking by the simple expedient of running extension leads over the roof and plugging stuff into them. But before I finally got my breakfast I thought I’d phone the electrician.

The conversation went something like this.

“Hi Colin, Jim Webster here.”

A somewhat sleepy voice said, “Jim do you know what day it is?”
After a brief pause to check I replied with reasonable confidence, “Monday.”

“It’s a bank holiday.”

“Didn’t know you worked for a bank Colin.”

Actually Colin being Colin, he came out and after an hour he’d got whatever it was fixed and I wasn’t relying on extension leads in the rain.

As it is, because today’s been fine I’ve got quite a few jobs finished off. Two fences fixed where a couple of old ewes have managed to jump over or squeeze through, and another fence that I put up in the rain on Saturday, finished off in the dry today.

That and a quad trailer gate fixed and bits and bobs of other stuff and it’s not been a bad day.

But what is the point of going anywhere on a bank holiday? The roads are always busy, everywhere you might fancy going is busy, and a lot of stuff will be shut as well. Or if it isn’t they’re short handed because who in their right mind pays staff double for working bank holidays?

Effectively the great and the good have decided that the British Public WILL celebrate whatever it is (be it Labour Day, or New Years day.) Why not just add it to their days off so they can take it when they want?

Give everybody the right to certain days as holiday if they wanted, out of their holiday entitlement. So if for religious reasons you wanted to take off Good Friday, Christmas Day and Ascension Day (or the beginning and end of Ramadan or whatever) you could and your employer just had to put up with it.

Given that apparently the Banks are starting to open on ‘Bank Holidays’ at the very least they’re going to have to change the name.

Mind you, at one point it did irritate me. Having run a business when interest rates on overdrafts were over 20% I felt that actually I was working for the bank, because they were the only ones making any money. Yet I was the one who wasn’t getting the bank holidays

Ah, the good old days. One of the best days of my life was when I finally got clear of the bank and no longer owed them anything

♥♥♥♥

Never mind, read something to cheer you up

 

Now in paperback and ebook

As a reviewer commented, “More charming stories and poems from the world of Tallis Steelyard. Port Naain is similar enough to “reality” (pre-industrial) to be familiar, but different enough to be interesting. Colourful characters and sticky situations abound. And there’s squid wrestling. This is only one of many collections of stories from Port Naain, so readers keen for more will not be disappointed.”

After the deluge

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So, we’ve three-hundred and ninety something lambed, and five left to lamb. They could spin it out over the next three or four weeks so there isn’t the sense of driving urgency.

But what about the rest? What happens to those who have lambed. Let us assume that we take the standard ‘set’ of one ewe with her twin lambs. They don’t go out until we’re happy that mum recognised her lambs (and lambs recognise mum) and she’s feeding them properly. Once we’re happy with that they go out into a field with other sheep.

At this point we have to be a bit particular. We try to put them out with ewes who have lambs of the same age, so they settle down well together. We also try to put them out into a field with not many other ewes and lambs into it. So they go out in batches of about twenty five. To anthropomorphise wildly, think about taking your toddler to school for the first time. You’ll be happier to let them join a class of twenty to thirty, all of the same age, than a class of five hundred which includes everything up to and including eighteen year olds.

And it’s at this point that things start getting complicated. Lambs have nothing to do with their time other than eat and explore. They squeeze through gaps and wander off, with mum bleating pathetically behind them. You can end up with the lamb in one field, wandering round the strange ewes, all with their own lambs, trying to work out which is mum, whilst mum is in the other field wondering where little one has gone to.

Trying to do anything about this is tricky. Evolution decided that lambs needed speed with a side order of curiosity and a dash of ‘cuteness’. Intellect wasn’t regarded as a survival characteristic. So when you try to catch the lamb to put it back it can pull moves that would make a Parkour champion applaud. Although to be fair you get the feeling that the lamb concentrates on the jump, gets the leap right, and only worries about landing as it travels through the air. They don’t tend to plan their moves out far in advance.

This lack of sparkling intellect is also shared by mum. She might have two lambs but isn’t good on advanced maths and if she decides to travel, so long as at least one of them is tagging along behind her, she feels reasonably happy.

You find that those who lose their mum, either by misplacing her or because she’s ill, tend to pinch milk of other mums when they get a chance. By the time they’re about six weeks old, they’re old enough to cope with solid food alone and they tend to wander more, coming back for a free feed and to get their washing done.

Illness is a difficult one. Sheep aren’t domesticated in the way that even cats are. They are far less domesticated than cattle. So they don’t just come and watch you, or stand and let you watch them in the same way that you can with cattle. Also there is an issue with herd animals. Evolution has designed them not to show weakness. The weak one is the one the predator picks, so both cattle and sheep can carry illnesses and even injuries and look remarkably healthy. It takes a lot of skill to spot illness in its early stages. So at the moment life consists of a lot of careful sheep watching, trying to spot trouble before it gets too far out of hand.

There are times when you ponder whether life should be so sheep centred.

 

 

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.”

 

To get it from anybody but Amazon go to

https://books2read.com/u/bwooxP

Lambing

I just thought I’d sort of describe ‘lambing’ for people. I know there’s ‘Lambing Live’ on telly (or was, I haven’t a clue whether they’re doing it this year or not) but I thought people would like a peep behind the curtain.

Lambing ‘starts’ when you put the tups in. (Tups is the Cumbrian term for rams, male sheep). This year we were cunning, we split the ewes into two groups, each of two hundred. We put the tups into one group, so they’d start lambing in the middle of February, and then three weeks later we put the tups into the next group as well. The idea was that lambing would be spread out a little bit and wouldn’t get totally manic. By and large it worked.

Round about Christmas we had sheep scanned. This told us who was carrying a single, twins or triplets. They were split into groups because they’d all need different diets.

The middle of February arrived. Prior to that we’d been taking hay and silage out to the ewes in the fields, and those carrying triplets had been really pampered getting ewe rolls. All got molasses as well because they really need the energy.

Then as the first ewes started lambing we went through them, pulled out those who were nearest to lambing and brought them inside. We have three old cattle sheds and we just bed them with straw, but along the sides we have some individual pens made out of hurdles. When things were busy somebody would go through every hour or so and if a ewe was lambing or had just lambed you’d quietly escort her into one of the pens and let her lick her lambs down in peace and generally give her a chance to get to know them.

One problem you can have during lambing is when you find three ewes surrounded by anywhere from five to seven lambs, and nobody (including the mothers,) has the faintest idea who belongs to who! So whisking them off to their private maternity suite as soon as you spot them doing anything saves problems.

There are other issues, large lambs that need help out into the world, lambs coming backwards, lambs lying across the birth canal they’re supposed to be going down, but most ewes manage this sort of thing entirely on their own. After all why not, it’s a perfectly natural process; the species has been doing it for millennia.

Once the ewe has lambed she and her lambs are whisked into another building, again in individual pens, where she can bond properly with the lambs and we can check that she’s got the milk to feed them.  If she’s the mother of triplets then she cannot really feed three properly so one is quietly removed. Ideally it goes straight onto a ewe who has only had one lamb. In the perfect world you catch your single actually lambing, and rub the ‘spare’ lamb down in afterbirth and fluid so the doting mum takes it as her own. (This is what we call round here Wet adoption.) Otherwise you can go through up to three stages. Some, a very few, will just accept the extra lamb. Some you put a halter on so that they cannot drive the lamb off, and so eventually, after a couple of days it smells of them and they accept it. Some have to go into a formal lamb adopter where the ewe’s head is held and she cannot see the lambs at all. So she forgets which is which and they both smell like her. But with this system, once she has accepted the lamb you’re best putting the new happy family into a single pen so that the lambs learn to recognise Mum’s face.

lamb adopter

But across the board, once you know mum has accepted the lambs, and each lamb has a nice full tummy which shows that she’s feeding them properly; then they can go back outside.

And this is where the weather is crucial. We’ve got fertiliser on, grass should be growing but because it’s cold and wet we’re feeding them as much silage and hay as we were back in January. There just isn’t enough grass yet to allow the ewes to produce enough milk to support their lambs. Obviously they’re also still getting their ewe rolls to make sure they are getting enough quality food so they can feed their lambs.

Ideally, the sun comes out, the mixture of rain, sleet and snow stops, and the grass starts growing. As the grass grows we can slowly withdraw the extra feed until finally mum is feeding her lambs solely off the grass, and the lambs are also eating grass as well.

As you can imagine, things get hectic. You have anywhere between a month and six weeks flat out. Our busiest day saw fifteen lamb within twenty four hours. Actually that is quite civilised and a result of us spreading tupping.  But ideally you don’t plan to do anything else much during lambing. Social events are just not booked for then and friends have to accept that you might just disappear for a month.

You certainly don’t plan a book launch for the middle of it!

facepalm-chimp1

But never mind.

Oh and a treat for you. Did you know that the Tsarina Sector series of SF novels is finished and all published?

https://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/the-tsarina-sector/

The first one is available here

 

Ode to the auld white faced witch with her head stuck in the dike

There was something I was going to tell you, but blowed if I can remember. But anyway, for those who’re following matters of international importance, one of the six ladies with their legs crossed waiting for spring has finally decided to lamb.

She had two large twin lambs rather than the triplets she was scanned for, but even she couldn’t have coped with three lambs the size of these two.

But anyway we had a real Luke 15:4 moment yesterday. We’d stuck four ewes and their lambs on the lawn. (Yes, our lawn is fenced for sheep.) It’s an intermediate destination for those ewes and their lambs who aren’t quite 100% but really ought to be outside.

Except that one ratching auld witch wiggled her way through the dike and the others followed her. Anyway we found them and fetched them home. All bar for one lamb who seemed to have got lost.

So whilst I put thorns in the gap, people went to look for the lamb but still no sign. Finally I took Sal and walked along the route the ewes had taken. At one point I heard a bleat. By the time I heard the second bleat Sal was hurtling at about mach three in the direction of the bleat. When I arrived on the scene Sal was dancing round the lamb who was looking a little put out by the performance.

So I caught the lamb. In this case I didn’t “lay it on my shoulders, rejoicing” because frankly the poor little mite wasn’t big enough. It tucked nicely under my arm whilst Sal trotted behind with the professionally ‘keen’ expression worn by Border Collies who’ve achieved something.

This morning on the other hand she was less successful. I was feeding hay to one lot of ewes and noticed one was staying by the fence. I drove across on the quad and discovered that, yes; the white faced auld witch had been pushing through and had got her head stuck in the netting. Unfortunately her way of resolving this was to keep pushing forwards. Sal was entirely in agreement with this approach and the two of them seemed to be working on the principle that if the head got through, the body will follow.

I confess at this point I was forced to remonstrate with both of them; indeed I may even have descended to vulgar abuse.

But eventually, after a frank and open exchange of views, I managed to get her head out and she trotted off to join her lambs and then glared at me in a most affronted manner.

And all this totally put out of mind what I was intending to tell you. But at last, I’ve finally remembered

The e-book version of Justice 4.1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Justice-4-1-Tsarina-Sector-Webster-ebook/dp/B00IPTBEQW/

is going to be available for free download, from the 31st March to 2nd
April.