Thursday 16th August was the day, one Shep had been looking forward to for quite some while- the last days clipping! Outdoor clipping no less, the night previous had been a wet one, now there's a surprise! but the morning blew out and by 11a.m sheep were dry and clipping commenced. There was a canny air (wind) and sunshine, all seemed well on the home front, we even stopped for lunch, opening our bait (sandwich) boxes to see what goodies were hiding there, quite a relaxed last days clipping it seemed.
Then it rained.
Now Shep ain't gonna give in that easily, although I did raise my head and noted that the skies were black and foreboding away across the valley, they were definitely having something of a downpour. Time to try and clip faster I thought as I felt spots of wet stuff landing om my back.
A few more woolly bodies were clipped, the spots of rain continued to land cool and wet on my back but sheep weren't getting too wet. Once again I looked up and away across the valley to see the downpour was moving, it seemed to be travelling in an arc around us. I couldn't help but grin to myself - the last days clipping and the weather was still being it's usual un co-operative self, but not to worry, the numbers of sheep to clip were getting down and nothing was gonna stop Shep in her quest to hang up the machine for the year.
I did consider stopping and donning waterproofs as the spots started to land heavier upon my back, but then I would just end up hot and sweaty so really I would be no better off than being wet with rain, anyhow, it would also waste time and after all there weren't many left to clip now. Fortunately clipping off a battery machine rigged up to my car battery meant I wasn't going to fear being electrocuted so all was well really.
We were fortunate, the rain, which I believe was indeed heavy, did continue to arc around us, we were just getting the few stray drops on the outside edge, by the time the sheep were all bared off and clipped out the rain had ceased, sun had come out and you couldn't help wonder what all the hassle had been about. So bloody typical though of this years clipping season, but hey! it was over for another year - time to celebrate!
Courtesy of a local artist who had pitched up for the duration to do arty things farmer and myself found ourselves being invited for a quick pint down the pub. Now farmer was acting slightly more conscientious than I was as I was quick to take up the offer, however, it took little to encourage him to come and join us.
So, down the pub we went, mid afternoon on a Thursday we found ourselves sitting outside enjoying a pint and watching the world go by whilst soaking up the sunshine, a slight give away to the fact we weren't tourists would have been our dress code, smell and unkempt appearance as there had been no time to wash and change. My logic is there are plenty who go out for a drink after work donned in their suits, don't see why we should be any different covered in sheep shit.
Glasses were raised to the succesful conclusion of the shearing season and not before time. Fraught doesn't seem to have had a look in this year, it is fair to say it has been the most difficult season to organise in my living memory, but hey! we got through it, finished far later than ought to have done but finished was the important issue this day.
It was something of a bummer when I received a 'phone call the following day to see how things were going from a farmer I work for and who's son clips their sheep. Of course I couldn't help but relay the good news that at long last, after what could only be described as a marathon I had eventually got the clipping over for another year................
"That's good, we've still got 700 to do, could you give us a hand?" was the reply.
It is fair to say my heart sank, but always trying to be as accommodating as possible I agreed to head over once Falstone Show had been and gone. Thank the lord we have an excuse for an annual day off - Falstone Show was a life saver!
Wednesday is dawning, it is 22nd August, an early start to gather hill ewes and then commence clipping for another day. The farmers son and I have already had a day or two at the job, much gathering, shedding off lambs, housing sheep, clipping, neither of us seem to be in the right frame of mind for the job but we are getting through, later this morning we anticipate we will be gathering 3 - 400 sheep - the final gather, which will hopefully see us finished clipping by Friday at the latest if the weather will allow, after that should the 'phone ring the answer will be a definite NO. Spaening (weaning), dipping, gathering are all on the books, clipping will definitely be over for another year. Will I raise a glass again? Now that may just be tempting providence, maybe I'll just celebrate in a non committal fashion just to be on the safe side!
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