Friday 25 March 2011
Any day now the sheep that we over-winter will be going back to the high-tops above Buttertubs for the Summer. And they know it! However much we try to keep them in one field they try to get out. They are adept at jumping on to walls and jumping down the other side or pushing open gates which are not securely fastened. And, as every farmer knows, the expression "following like sheep" is very true - one gets out then they all get out. So the time has come when they are beginning to shed great dollops of their fleeces and their feet are getting far too nimble for their own good.
Half of me will be sorry to see them go but the other half knows that life will be infinitely simpler without them over the Summer. These Swaledales are bred for the high tops, bred to be hefted and to roam far and wide in their search for the tough grass they love best.
In the meantime, as we wait for them to be collected, the farmer has hired a mammoth "muck-spreader" which looks like a giant Leviathan and flings the muck about the field with gay abandon. Even with all doors and windows closed (and believe me they need to be closed as the fields are spread with manure) the machine makes a great clanking noise. This afternoon he has taken it up on to the hill top to spread a friend's horse manure - I can see him on the horizon and I can hear the machine from here - and I am quite deaf!