At last the day has arrived. All the ewes who were losing their wool in great clumps have been shorn. How much better they must feel for their hair cut.
They are docile creatures and seem able to put up with any indignity providing they are all kept together. The lambs - who are not shorn in their first year - hung about in the yard waiting for their mums, getting down awkward little places and then making a fuss to get out, calling repeatedly. The mums made not a sound. I couldn't help feeling that a short break from their offspring was appreciated.
First both sheep and lambs had their feet treated - hooves clipped, any sore places treated and then sprayed with a soothing antibiotic.
Then both sheep and lambs were drenched for worm and injected with penicillin against infection from the feet. Finally all of them (after the ewes had been shorn) were sprayed down the middle of their backs against flies.
Nobody seemed keen to go back into the pasture - they were happy to stay in the yard until one went - then they all went - like sheep.
The wool these days is pretty worthless - farmers get only a pittance for it, particularly since carpets contain much less wool than they used to - for that was where most Swaledale wool went. Time was when a tenant farmer would pay his year's rent with his wool crop. These days it would be lucky to buy him a meal out.
The chap shearing made me laugh. His grandson, who was helping, had only passed his driving test a week ago and had saved up and bought himself a car. After only two days he landed up in a hedge bottom. Luckily no-one was hurt and it could have been much worse. Also, hopefully, it has taught him a valuable lesson. But his grandfather told me that when he was young his father had had a saying, which was, "God castrates young men slowly and painfully." Food for thought there, I think.