Friday, 20 June 2008

A devil for punishment

Not satisfied with the shearing of our own 330 sheep, I have now volunteered Laura, Thomas and myself to help a friend with her 300 tomorrow.

She came to see us the other night after dropping her two kids off for a "do" at school. She lives about an hour away from us, but the kids are at school near to us - another complicated story.

I was asking what was happening about her hay this year and had she clipped the sheep. The hay, she explained, would be none existant as the sheep were still on the fields. The sheep, she said, were being clipped next week, and did I know of anyone who would like to catch for her! Now this is a job normally to be avoided, especially if you know the sheep are going to be fairly big and fairly wild. She has three shearers coming, 300 sheep and only herself and the two kids to do it. Now none of them are terribly big or strong, so I offered our services, with the proviso that if the weather is good I'll be tractor driving doing our hay.

I asked Laura if she was willing, and to ask Thomas if he would also help. Both decided that we really couldn't get out of it, and I daren't tell them I might not be able to go! However, David said that he would do the hay as far as he could, but that we would probably have to finish it on Sunday. Oh joy! Catching damn sheep one day and boring tractor driving the next. Roll on Monday.

In an effort to persuade Laura I said they were young and fit - the shearers, not the sheep. Thomas has to be persuaded by cash. Hopefully the sheep will be not too big, quiet and not too weighty.

At least when the lamb-man came today he marked 26 of our lambs to go Wednesday, that will be something to look forward to, until I get some more in, and some fat bulls are going on Monday. It will be like a practice run at retirement with almost nothing to feed for a few days.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

They baa-red all!

We had quite a heavy weekend recently - the shearing of 330 sheep.

We arranged for the French shearer to come on the Friday, and a friend "volunteered" his son to catch the sheep him. In case of rain we got 150-ish sheep in on the Thursday - this made sure that at least they would get clipped, and we would be half-way there.

The shearer arrived 8.00 a.m. Friday morning - minus the catcher. Now David on shearing days is conspicuous by his absence. He always seems to have a "very-important-job" (vij). That meant that yours truly had to get the sheep in the pen, catch them and then put the wool in the sack. With only one shearer that wasn't too bad, except the sheep seemed to get bigger and bigger with each one I caught and lifted. Not only that, these people expect lunch! So he got apologies and a cold salad/sandwich lunch.

Sadly for David he managed to get his vij done in the morning, so was somewhat encouraged to help me in the afternoon. By the time 6.00 p.m. arrived we both felt as if our arms and fingers were being pulled from our bodies. Not only that, it had started to rain at lunchtime, and somehow the shearer had managed to fit into the shed both of the flocks so that he could continue with dry sheep on the Saturday.

Having arranged for her dad to collect her from Poitiers, we picked Laura up from his and went for a well-earned meal at the local restaurant. My bones just sank into my body.

Saturday arrived, Laura wanted to go out with her mates, but I persuaded her to get some dog food for the dogs and draw some money out for the shearer. However, the heavens opened and that put off her day out (thank goodness). So she and I did the sheep, whilst David returned a topper he had borrowed from some friends.

The poor sheep went out, minus fleeces, into the cold and wet!

The topper had been borrowed from some friends who are naturists. He phoned them up to arrange to go and get it, and on arrival at their place they were all starkers! He had some quite garish tales (tails?) to tell, and I couldn't do a thing with him for the rest of the day.

One of his comments was "no wonder they have good suntans". But as he said, he didn't know where to look!