Saturday, 21 April 2012

Another Tuesday! (17th April)

That is what I was told this morning “Way..... it’s Tuesday you know”. The remark was in answer to my question as to whether or not the day was going to fair up. 6am and I was heading to the hill, if it was going to fair up I would have waited - what a foul morning! The shepherd had shot down to check the shed, all 7 of them! I had looked them before retiring for the night, he looked them in the morning to ensure I wouldn’t be held up heading out to the hill. A wicked smile as he told me he was heading back in for his early morning coffee as I headed out - happed (covered) up like an Eskimo, or so I was told.

Tuesday? Yup, that atrocious arctic snowy day was Tuesday 3rd April, Tuesday 10th April, the day my hill ewes started to lamb, was an equally atrocious morning and here we were – yet another Tuesday, the 17th, and truly abysmal weather, thank fully there is now only one Tuesday left in April, should the trend continue!

Shep and Moss headed out on the quad. Very strong, bitterly cold wind which drove rain, ice and snow right through you, ugh! It was awful. With hindsight (such a wonderful thing) I ought to have turned around and had a second cup of coffee, but I didn’t!

By the time we reached the top of the Dodlaw I was nithered (very cold), everything felt saturated. Raising my head against the onslaught was painful on the face; eyes were screwed up to stop the cold icy whatever stinging the eyeballs. I had passed a new lambed pair, busying themselves getting footed, that natural instinct was driving them on.
 
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Once up on the top of this carbuncle it is necessary to get off the bike and walk down the hillside a short way to allow a better view of the ground. Shep ain’t good at heights, this is steep ground to what I am accustomed to and it doesn’t always take much for the vertigo to set in. This morning was no exception as Moss went sideways and I wondered if I would topple over. The strength of the wind out on the top there was unbelievable, I made a mental note to eat more chocolate, more ballast was obviously needed!

Over the top and onto the two cuts of sheep away over the back saw more shelter, still bitterly cold, still wet and icy but definitely more shelter. My face was stinging, my hands getting cold, for all they were encased in a good pair of gloves and the bike has heated hand grips they were still suffering. As was my backside, it was getting colder and colder and feeling wetter and wetter. I was half way round my trip around the hill when I realised what a plonker I was. My discomfort found me sheltering from the onslaught in the back of a dyke (wall). Gloves off and I rolled a fag, it was bliss to crouch down out of the unrelenting wind and shite that was being thrown at me, Moss cuddled in, he too appreciated the few moments of shelter.

Down on my honkers in the back of the wall I caught sight of my leggings – what a prat! Neither wonder I felt so bloody cold. I have two pairs of wellies and leggings with me, a fair weather pair and a wet weather pair. Basically, a brand new set and a set which are ripped and shredded, fine for keeping me warm and clean but no use for keeping me dry. Which pair had I put on?? Need I tell you? Some folk just don’t have the sense they were born with!

There were lambs a plenty, regardless of the weather conditions the ewes had been spitting them out. Most were new lambed, all were footed, nothing was taking any serious hurt. I eventually got in for my breakfast as the weather started to improve.

It would have been a strange sight should I not have been living alone, as I dropped my britches (trousers) peeled soggy knickers off my now numb arse then opened the top oven door of the aga and turned my back to it in an attempt to get some feeling back into that expanse of myself I had been sitting on for the past few hours. I feel sure that if I had wet myself I would have been drier and probably warmer than I was at that moment in time. The offending wellies and leggings found themselves pushed away into a corner, no fear of jumping into them again in a hurry as I depart in the mornings in a sleepy haze.
 
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Thankfully the day improved. My next lap and all subsequent journeys were done in the dry. A cold, cold wind but sunshine did grace on occasions. There were a couple of lambs not sucked on my return, they got sorted and all was well. Full tummies and they will survive the rigours of the weather.

I had the pleasure of being able to sit and watch the dipper for a short while later that morning. I have seen it fly down the burn at ‘my’ spot once in the time I’ve been here, so I knew it was still on the water. Whether the same one that I have seen over the past five years I wouldn’t like to say but it definitely uses the same stretch of water. Today the burn was full and the little cheerful dipper did his bobbing act on a stone in the middle of the burn, then kindly dived into the water, swam under before once again appearing back up on top of another stone. He did this twice as I watched before heading further downstream and out of sight. I really do have a penchant for dippers, such cheery little things; memories of the early morning onslaught soon began to vanish as I went on my way with a spring in my step.
 
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Not wanting to sit still for a photo, preferring to sniff his armpits !
 
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Then deciding the smell was too much - time to leave!

The buzzards were busy today as well, soaring up and up and up on the thermals. Ravens too were to be seen and of course the corbie crows (carrion crow). There was another bird............ I need my bird book. I have borrowed one from the shepherd but it ain’t up to scratch. I’ve seen this bird once before, two years ago and whilst I was lambing here. It’s huge - massive wingspan. I’d like to think it’s an osprey; however, I may well be wrong.

A wheatear on the final lap tonight kindly alighted on a fence post right beside me; they are bonny in their own right and cheerful with it. The day finished on a high, a slight shower saw a rainbow arc across the sky – a grand way to put the day to bed!
 
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5 comments:

Dafad said...

Hope this Tuesday is better Shep.
Keep up the humour, guess you're needing it up there. Take care.
Dafad.

Tarset Shepherd said...

Hey Dafad! This Tuesday was a cracking day, got a text from home to say they had monsoon rains, just an hour away from here and we've seen the ground drying and not only the top coat off but the jumper an' all! Borrowing someones computer at the mo, catching up on e-mails. Hope all is well down in Wales. Shep

newbie said...

hi,
a little time back i read your blog by chance, having read what you do i decided this could be the career for me. so i got a small job 2 weeks indoor lambing 1200 mules. i can now say yes Sheparding is what i want to do! your blogs have inspired me!!! thank you

Dafad said...

Hello Newbie!
Which part of the country are you?
Shep inspired me too, though am too old for the shepherding these days.
Full of information and ace photo's. And to Shep ... hope you are safe up there in the bitterly cold north.
Take care both with the weather ahead.

Tarset Shepherd said...

Hi Newbie, pleased to hear you've decided on a decent career, tad embarrasing to think I may have inspired you but if it's what you want to do you'll make a go of it, hope you continue to enjoy and remember ..... wear waterproofs which are waterproof!