Sunday 7 August 2011

The monsoon season and shearing

Blimey, the past week commenced with tropical rains. Hot weather over the weekend and I mean hot, the sort of weather which leaves you looking like a lobster in no time. The sort of weather where sitting still makes you sweat, not only does the skin burn but the blood boils also - phew!

As with most of the good weather this summer in Tarset it was short lived, the forecasters predicted a downturn and they were correct.

Now Shep was very fortunate as for once I had decided I was having a day off, a day I wanted off not one determined by the weather. Saturday saw me head off to Kelso Show and having a great day, enjoying a good crack, excellent sheep on show and tremendous weather. Whilst Tarset farmers were sweltering in the heat battling on to get hay and silage crops gathered up before the weather broke I wandered around enjoying myself with not so much of a tinge of guilt. A day off which was long overdue and the weather was being kind as well.

I have lived on the memories of last Saturday all week as the tropical rains seemed to change into the monsoon season. The other half found himself battling to help a neighbour lead hay and silage in on the Monday night and into Tuesday morning as the heavens opened and the deluge began.

The start of the week saw high temperatures and heavy rain, this past weekend has seen lower temperatures and torrential rain. There are reports locally of fords in flood preventing access to vehicles, flash flooding causing rain water to run through full hay sheds, one apparently had six inches of water standing in it. Now there is wet and there is wet. We've definitely had the later - very wet. Ground is saturated and some still have fields of grass to cut.

There was however a slight miracle during the week. One local farmer still needed his 5oo hill ewes clipping. This was out door shearing, out on the hill with not a shed in sight. A dry day was needed and on the third attempt by the shearers they hit lucky.

Shep was on hand to help gather and assist on the day, not with the shearing however, after all, they did want them clipped on one day!

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It was an early start, not quite as early as it ought to have been as Shep struggled to get out of bed, the alarm went off at 4.45 am and I rolled over - fatal! However, I was only half an hour late and the shearers arrived to find we were ready and waiting.

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Plenty of dogs on hand to get the sheep moving through the pens and the lambs shed off, my three are in the foreground with one of the farmers dogs lying in the background.

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On occasions it did seem that there were more dogs than sheep!

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Finally woolly sheep were shed off from lambs and clipped hoggs (which by now you should know are called gimmers), the woolled sheep waited expectantly, they are swaledales by the way, similar perhaps to a blackfaced but lighter framed sheep and different hair on their heads and legs, I would also say they have grey noses and eyebrows but blackfaces are tending to look like that these days so there could be cause for confusion on that front.

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Kale thought he ought to keep an eye on the lambs and gimmers held in the stell.

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The shearers got into the flow of things and wool came off, the weather held out all day which seemed almost unbelievable. There was filming going on all day long as well, some sort of documentary being made I do believe, really hope the guy with the fluffy thing on the end of a stick (sound recordist) deletes some of the swear words going on in the background!

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My view of proceedings along with the view the farmers wife experienced was slightly different to the norm. The wool is kicked by the shearers below the race and wrapped at the back of the trailer, fortunately a sheep knocked some of the boarding off the race and we had a little hole to peek through and view the proceedings. Can't say I've ever spent the day viewing the world below a sheeps belly before - first time for everything!
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Moss and Glen had been kept busy keeping sheep forward and were only too keen to take a rest when bait times arrived, hopeful also of the odd crust being shared with them. Moss here is taking forty winks with an ear open just incase he misses anything.

500 sheep clipped outdoors on the Friday. 500 sheep wishing they could have their jackets back on on the Saturday as it rained cats and dogs. The Scottish National Sheep dog trials held just over the border had cause to halt proceedings on the final day due to the weather, a football match with Newcastle United was stopped due to the weather, rain fell and kept falling, flash floods occured and then there were 500 sheep finding they were getting soaked to the skin. Fortunately they are far tougher than us, they would head for some shelter somewhere and give themselves a good shaking when it eventually faired up. The farmer was relieved as were the shearers, they had finally hit lucky and managed a day when the weather held out and the job got done.


Di Overton said...

Would your dogs like to borrow my duck's boots?

Tarset Shepherd said...

They'd love to!