It was not just Tess who had her beauty treatment this week. First of all the sheep had a massive one. Their fleeces have become increasingly tatty with great swags of wool hanging off on the hedges, where they have scratched. It must have been so irritating. Well now they have been shorn. They are no longer nice, woolly sheep - they are ungainly, lumpy things on four legs - only attractive, I would think, to a male of the species.
In addition they have all had a pedicure (note to self: keep Tess out of the yard for a day or two because pared horn is one of her favourite foods!) Their feet have been scrubbed and sprayed in an effort to keep foot problems as low as possible (eradication is impossible). They have all been drenched - a spout has been unceremoniously poked into their mouths with a dose of something horrible and finally their bottoms have been dealt with - and their teats. These both get unbelievably dirty, sticky and messy - a perfect breeding ground for flies and then maggots. It has not been a pleasant job but it is done and they are back in their field and decidedly frisky with it.
Then the heifers were brought in and drenched. They did not like it and, being larger and more boisterous than the sheep, made their feelings felt in no uncertain way. So each one had to be placed in a crush to be dealt with. Their feet were pared down and washed and I am sure they felt all the better for it, although one was in such a hurry to get back to the field that it knocked its leg and is now limping - so we must keep an eye on that one.
The last thing to have a treatment was the yard. You can imagine the mess - poo of both kinds, wool, parings, wool-clippings etc. So after waiting 24 hours, hoping for a real downpour to start the process and none being forthcoming, yesterday the farmer spent most of his day cleaning up.
Still it is all done and dusted and everything is back in the fields behaving as though nothing has happened. This morning the farmer has been picking gooseberries, of which we have stones. I have made ten pounds of gooseberry and elderflower jam (good recipe for this on the internet) and as I still have gooseberries in the freezer from last year I really don't want any more. Luckily various people want some and it is lovely to give away produce.
On the subject of jam I always make a lot of raspberry jam as it is the best to fill sandwich cakes. This year we have had a lot of strawberries too, most of which we have eaten for tea. Any that have been left over I have put in with the raspberries in the jam and I must say the strawberries give the jam a nice flavour. If you are a jam-maker do try it.
Very changeable and stormy weather here with plenty of downpours. Did I once post a blog saying we were desperate for rain???