Thursday, 1 October 2015


Image result for buttertubs pass

The farmer spent yesterday clearing all the briars which have grown over the Summer from the hedge backs because the Winter sheep were coming.   The Swaledale sheep, which are hefted on the Buttertubs pass (above) have come down for the Winter to our (relatively) lowland farm.   Should a really severe Winter set in then the Buttertubs pass between Wensleydale and Swaledale becomes impassable and the sheep can be buried under feet of snow.   So they come down every year.

These are gimmers - that is this year's female lambs - who will go back up to The Buttertubs in the Spring, spend the Summer learning their boundaries and getting fat and healthy - then in the Autumn they will be tupped (put to the ram) and in the following Spring they will produce lambs themselves.   And so the farming cycle continues.

All the briars have been burnt on a bonfire, which means that no sheep will get caught in the hedge - believe me if there are briars there there will always be at least one sheep who will decide to die in that way.   A day without being found and the outlook is pretty desperate - and it is so easy to miss one because the more they get entangled the more they struggle.

So there we are.  Another farming job over for another year.

The field opposite was combined yesterday morning (wheat), the straw was baled up in the afternoon; this morning the field is being 'mucked' - they don't waste any time these days on the farm. 

***Just adding a note about the word 'hefted' (the word gimmers is explained in the post.)  These sheep up on 'the tops' spend their summers up there for the whole of their lives and they learn exactly where they can go, so that this information is passed on generation after generation and only rarely do sheep stray off the territory.


Frances said...

Thank you again for allowing me to learn so much about the farming year. I continue to gain appreciation of all that is involved, day after day, week after week, and how every effort aids another part of the schedule.

The roadway photograph with all the curving landscape lines is splendid. I imagine be able to be there and smile!

Gwil W said...

I've been over there a few times.

Thanks for a new word: 'gimmers'.

Cro Magnon said...

Hefted? Gimmers? You lot speak a strange language up north.

Sue in Suffolk said...

When we had sheep we found that if there's just one bramble for them to get caught on they find it!

Wilma said...

Very interesting. And as Cro says, you do have a strange and different language.

A Heron's View said...

Well done Pat, you have brought confusion into the lives of the townies and foreigners with your use of Standard Agriculture English and borne the brunt of their ignorance.
Now that has sorted the wheat from chaff - excellent work !
We now know who is who :)

Heather said...

Buttertubs looks so remote and beautiful now but I can imagine it must be a nightmare to try to negotiate it in winter, if not completely impossible. I daresay all farmers are making the most of this fine weather in their preparations for winter.

Midmarsh John said...

Ah. Muck spreading. What my mother used to call a good country smell.

Rachel Phillips said...

You cant waste any time when it gets to cutting the wheat on the 30th September and the next day is the 1st October. Very late indeed.

Joanne Noragon said...

I hear Herriot in most of your words. I hope that is not cliche or offensive, because for my it is lovely.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Joanne - this is Herriot country.

Terry and Linda said...

Look at that wonderful road! I would love to toodle on down it!


John Going Gently said...

Like watching a better written and more entertaining COUNTRYFILE

Sheila said...

My first thought when seeing that photo was of "All Creatures...."
Brings to mind clips of either James or Siegfried zipping along
in their wonderful auto through the Yorkshire countryside. Miss that

angryparsnip said...

So agree with all the comments about Herriot country.
I could hear the opening theme song when I looked and the photo.
And I learned some new words today.

cheers, parsnip

Cloudia said...

Comforting to know the sheep will be safe from entanglements, and that the real world proceeds with stately rhythm



thelma said...

Fascinating, always hate those photos when snow covers the moors and the sheep huddle against the stone walls, glad yours have all come down to the safer environment of the valley.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Believe me Thelma it has been known for the sheep to huddle against the wall under the snow here on a farm st only six hundred or so feet (but not for the last year or two thanks goodness.)

Thanks for the comments. Let us all in the UK make the most of this Indian Summer and soak up the last of the sun - it is set to change next week but at present the weather is perfect.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating stuff. I love how all the old ways continue like this. Proper stewards of the land.