Saturday 10 March 2012

F******* gather

Foggy gather. Final gather. If you were thinking it was any other eff ing gather you need to wash your minds out with mustard. Take it from me, it is an ideal way to ensure you'd never touch mustard again!
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The view - if you could call it that. Every morning, without fail the view hardly varied.
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I guess a different spot made the view seem slightly different, but initially it was all the same, visibility extremely poor, in fact visibility was crap, there wasn't a polite way of putting it really.

A week had been allowed to gather the sheep away out bye. 7,000 + acres to cover to find 1,500 sheep. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, an inconvenience maybe but not a problem, there is always tomorrow. However, the scan man was due in a weeks time and so a problem it was.

Every morning saw us climb out into the thickening gloom, like two intrepid explorers on quads, setting out to find what no man could see. Headlights on the bikes were of little use as neither of us could see each other until we almost collided. We went forth and made noise, whistled, sang, hollered (shouted)....... whatever the moment necessitated, it would be fair to say we persevered.
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As we dropped further in apparitions began to appear before our very eyes. A marvelous sight!! Sheep know where they belong and they know the spot to gather up to, they also know when we can't see them..........
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Fortunately, blocks had been put in place to encourage the sheep to run to a designated area, an area where years back the sheep were gathered together for tup time and have since always been gathered to the same spot. Which means that generations of sheep know where they're meant to gather up to, they know feed blocks will be available to them on the run up to lambing time at these particular spots on the hill. These blocks were put out to help hold them to the spot, specifically for this particular gather.
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It was a great help with the conditions we were experiencing, giving us a sporting chance of tracking down the sheep when visibility was so poor.
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Ironical that you couldn't see a bloody thing out on the tops then drop away in with sheep in front of you and it is as clear as a bell. A quick count to see if all are present. Then the inevitable - all aren't present! There were a variety of discrepancies, ranging from a couple short, to 30 odd short and one day apparently over a hundred short (the day Shep had to go elsewhere, can't be blamed for that one!)
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Those present were taken further in and held in fields whilst bikes and riders turned around and headed out to look for more.

It seemed like a long week, much bouncing around on the hill, I'm sure my arse (backside) was tenderised like the finest steaks by the end of the gathering, it felt like every muscle, joint and bone in my body had been pulverised, far cheaper than paying for a deep muscle massage that's for sure, probably not quite such a pleasant result tho'! Ground was covered and re covered in an attempt to have all sheep present for the scan man.

Did we succeed? Well almost........ The final tally saw a handful missing, a handful unaccounted for, we ran out of time and luck but under the circumstances were also highly successful. Let's hope those missing few are fit and healthy and come in on the next gather.

I started the posting with Foggy gather.Final gather?

This link takes us back to the gathering for tup time where I wrote the following:

I mentioned to the shepherd that this ought to be our last day out here, a day to hold strong in our memories, a perfect day. There are changes afoot on this particular farm, a parting of the ways. Neither of us knows if we'll ever be out here again to gather, let alone be in each others company doing so. This was the first day of many to gather sheep forward for tup time, wouldn't it have been perfect if it had been the last day of many.

At long last we had the final gather. 'Twas a shame we didn't quite go out on a high! Although there were high moments, and much leg pulling. There was probably also a sense of relief.

A relief that at last there was a shepherd on the farm, a farm which has been unoccupied for four months, four winter months at that. I think there ought to be a party!!! A leaving do?? A pre lambing bash - now there's an idea!