Friday 4 September 2009

mad dogs and englishmen

That's what was going through my mind this morning, only mad dogs and Englishmen would be out gathering sheep in that weather. The old herds would turn in their graves, going to the hill in an absolute downpour to gather sheep and trash them through the pens - near enough a sack able offence.

I'm away out bye at the moment, we'd allowed ourselves a week to gather, keep the ewe lambs, draw fat lambs and spaen (wean) the store lambs. It's a big skelp of ground out there, seven and a half thousand acres to be precise. When conditions are right, sheep co-operative and dogs willing the sheep can be gathered in four days, allowing ourselves a week gave us three days lea way for the odd foggy morning or piss wet day.

The lambs were booked in to be collected in a weeks time, an artic turns up and all the fat lambs are loaded straight off the farm and direct to slaughter. The gathering commenced on Wednesday with the wagon due in the following Wednesday.

However, a phone call changed all that, the lambs will be collected on Sunday.......... Oh Lord!.....

God willing, weather permitting, it could just be done; a lot of hard work but it was possible to have everything ready by Sunday, until it rained that is, and rained, and rained and more rained!!

Wednesday was a canny sort of day, sheep gathered well, except Shep kept leaving some behind, just as well you look back as much as forwards when gathering.

Now there was an atrocious forecast for Thursday, that nice weather man on the telly put a great big green blob of rain over us - a sign of heavy rain - and, to add insult to injury, he left it over us all day - how dare he?

Early Thursday dawned dry, the two cuts (hefts) were difficult to gather in the morning, the sheep had had a hattering during the night with foul weather and didn't much want to shift from the spot, dogs worked hard, hounding on and driving them in, then it started to rain again. We were fortunate though, we got blue rain and not the green that was forecast. It was just wet, not piss wet , however, by lousing (finishing) time it was seeping up the arms and running down the neck but hey! could have been a lot worse.

Yep! It got a lot worse......... the rain from yesterday never let up and got decidedly heavier, it rained all last night with the monsoon seeming to wait til' morning. I donned a fresh top coat as yesterdays was still drip drying, pulled the hat tight down over my lugs and hauled the gloves onto already wet hands and off I went. Within ten minutes the gloves were only of use as a wind break, being soaked through, I did think though, that should we suffer a drought I would be grateful of the moisture I could wring out of them!

The dogs didn't seem to mind the conditions, the sheep were less impressed, as were we. In to the pens with them by 9am to find we were 50 short....... The burns are boiling by now, up to the banks and thinking about bursting, the sheep were sorted and put into a field ready for Sunday. The shepherd I was working with went back out to the hill to attempt to find the missing 50 and I head for home by early afternoon.We had failed to gather everything we had intended to and unless the burns run in overnight we could be on a hiding to nothing tomorrow as the remaining sheep have to cross a burn to get to the pens, for all we've broken all the rules today we have more sense than to push our luck any further. We'll wait and see what tomorrow brings.