The time has come to gather the sheep off the hills and put them into the fields with those tups. A gloomy, dark, blustery day with biting cold showers, the sort of day when the last thing you feel like is a jaunt out in the open, let alone up that hill. However once out there it amazing how refreshing it is and then the sheer bliss of returning to the comfort of the farmhouse kitchen and a mug of piping hot soup.
I took the stick with me on my run up the hill, and changed my usual route to encompass the slopes off to the left and around the back. The sheep eyed me warily, chewing the cud, reminding me of a bolshie teenager, gum clamped in jaws, before with one last stare they reluctantly headed off in the other direction, down towards the burn.
A soft whistle and a wave of the stick, and they were away, following one another neatly in a row. Sheep are easier to gather at this time of year, they seem to sense the mating season is upon us and flock together, without the usual tearaways or gang leaders. I gradually followed those girls down off the hill to meet the other flocks coming across the bog land, happy farmer and sheepdog in tow, through the gate and into the ponies’ field, before they filed neatly into the fank, all present and correct.
The happy farmer placed them in various pens in the fank, a quick manicure for those requiring some last minute preening, the boys gathering eagerly at the fence, their noses in the air, waiting patiently for the happy farmer to ‘bring on the girls’. The happy farmer meanwhile carefully selected which sheep will be going where. The cross sheep to the
tups, their lambs will be heading for market. The blackface sheep to the Suffolk Texel tup, again for market and then Mr Blue, our Blue Faced Leicester tup, will get the honour of the older ewes on the farm, and their offspring will be kept on the farm for future breeding.
The library van called by in the afternoon. I had company as I browsed the shelves of neatly stacked books, Spock, the three legged pottery cat, hopped on board, and prowled around the van. I looked to the librarian to enquire as to whether animals were welcome in the library, while he, the cat, not the librarian, took himself off behind the counter, jumped up onto the Driver’s seat and promptly curled up for an afternoon nap.
Until next time….