The previous four lambings to this past one I travelled over the border with my car full of belongings and paraphernalia which included my ski pants, y'know, them things skiers wear when they're out on the piste. Now Shep does not ski, although I did once have a half hearted attempt, but I have found that when sitting astride a quad bike in the deep mid winter ski pants are indeed a god send, they keep the chill off and the chilblains away.
As said, the previous lambings and ski pants were indeed loaded into the car, it was generally cold and snowy when I headed north at the end of March for the six weeks lambing stint and I always like to be well prepared. I don't truly recall ever wearing these super warm overtrousers to any great extent at lambing time and so this year, with the hot spell at the end of March, I decided that really I had loaded enough stuff into the back of my car and there was no way I was going to need them there ski pants, they were left behind.
How wrong can you be? Those bitterly cold easterly and north easterly winds didn't half bite hard, coupled with the fact I donned the more holey than godly leggings on one of those piss wet mornings which ensured I got a good soaking to the skin - a very cold soaking at that, which very kindly rekindled the chilblain curse. A problem I haven't experienced for at least 12 years, one which I hadn't missed that's for sure!
Chilblains always make me think of toes, presumably coz that's where normal people suffer from the blighters, of course, not being exactly 'normal' I just have to be different. My toes have never suffered from the blighters (my ears have however). No, Shep gets chilblains on her legs, I just like to be different y'know! Where the top coat finishes and the legs begin, basically a third of the way down the outer thigh and there you have it........ nasty itchy chilblains. As said, I cannot truly recall when I last suffered from the blighters, I have to go back many many years to the days of lambing away out bye when I very rarely wore leggins due to lambing on foot and not liking to be hot and bothered. The sharp frosts very early in the morning, coupled with being caught out in an odd shower, plus any cold winds which blew would inevitably cause the chilblains to rise to the fore. I eventually gave in and wore leggins in an attempt of prevention and spent much time putting them off and on as I got hot then cold, but it worked and the problem was resolved. What a surprise then to get caught out this year, the leggins just weren't warm enough when sat on a quad during this past lambing.
I've forgotten the chilblains now, the weather has warmed up. Well and truly warmed up.
We seem to be receiving extremes of temperatures. The last week of March saw temperatures soar to 26 degrees Celsius, then plummet to low single figures for the duration of April and half of May, this week has once again seen them rise to ridiculously high levels. Tuesday was our first hot day 32 degrees no less. (bear in mind our outdoor thermometer does sit in the full sun from 4.30 pm onwards), I did think Wednesday was beyond a joke at 36 degrees but today tops it all at a sweltering 38 degrees.
My mother informed me that she had once been told that the easiest way to convert the temperature into what she calls "old money" in other words Celsius to Fahrenheit is to double the figure and add 30, for those of you who are pernickety the exact equation is to multiply the figure by 1.8 then add 32 degrees (mothers rough guide seems simpler!)
Anyhow, that then gives us temperatures of 89.6 / 96.8 and finally........ today (Sunday 27th May) .......... 100.4! A quick chase around the world with the help of Google tells me we are hotter than Greece and would probably have to shoot across to Saudi Arabia to match temperatures! Alternatively, we could just sit in the shade and find 26 degrees Celsius or 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit!
The heat is a welcome break from those increasingly distant memories of such a cold, cold lambing season. Bare fields are springing to life as the wet ground warms up and the grass shoots away, although some are already finding ground which lies close to rock with little soil cover is beginning to burn off - it seems almost unbelievable!
There's nowt like getting the sun on your back to give you a lift, both stock and man feel so much better when the sun shines down, or do they?
Sheep are heavy in wool, left to their own devices they are more than happy if shade can be found and we are lucky that there is a draught blowing, yup! the wind has got up which does help to cool one down, it also seems to help drive the burning rays into you as well.
I often wonder where my common sense lies. Working in a vest on Wednesday, out in the middle of nowhere, unaware the sun was blazing down in the high nineties Fahrenheit I suddenly became aware that my neck and shoulders were frying. I did have a T shirt in the car but that was a couple of miles away. I had a ratch around (hunt about) and unearthed a paper feed sack, then hey presto! a length of baler twine. Problem solved!
There was much hilarity and leg pulling as I tore the sack in half, poked a couple of holes in the top and then commenced threading baler twine through the holes which I then duly wrapped around my forehead. I dare say I looked a sight, I was indeed told I looked a sight but the following couple of hours in the afternoon sun were far more comfortable with my home made hat come cape than they would have been without it.
So! The sun on your back gives you a lift, it also brings with it its own problems. Sheep need gathering before the heat of the day gets up, early mornings will be the order of the day to get sheep into the pens safe and sound, once in the pens they too suffer from the heat, just as we do, then there is the question of returning them to whence they came. Time and patience is needed when moving and handling stock in the present conditions. Most importantly there is the welfare of the dogs to consider, they too suffer, running their hearts out in extremely hot weather is not kind on them.
Having said all that tho' it has to be said that it IS good to get the sun on your back, aches and pains subside and humours lighten of that there is no doubt!