Scaring sheep on a sunny Sunday

Apologies to all those who have missed the blog in the last couple of weeks. I’ve been a bit distracted by starting a new job recently which means I’m back into the weekly commute up and down to London. And just because life should never be simple, I’ve also decided to take up flying trapeze lessons as well. So not so much time for blog-writing.

(It’s a back-up plan – if the job doesn’t work out, I’ll be able to run away and join the circus…)

Anyway, back in the real world of building the barn…..

Remember last week when I said I would regret saying I wished it would rain? Well that was a prophecy of doom. Not long after my last blog was posted, the skies darkened, the wind picked up, the power cut and the heavens opened. It was a proper torrential downpour.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. It was just a wall of water coming straight down. For the first 30 seconds I looked out with awe. And with glee. All that lovely water replenishing my borehole.

And then I heard it. The dreaded phobia – the-fear-of-the-sound-of-running-water-in-the-barn. Only this time it wasn’t just the sound of running water. It sounded more like an indoor waterfall!

Way up in the heady heights of my 5m high ceiling in the living room I have a couple of skylights. They had turned into the source of an indoor shower. For the amount of water that was coming in they might as well have been wide open. They weren’t. But they might as well have been.

I’m guessing that there’s a slate or two come loose. Chances are they’ve been loose a while but I haven’t noticed. The reason there was so much water coming in was simply due to the sheer volume of water pouring down outside.

Nothing I could do there and then. And since I’m now away for most of the week I’ve called in the cavalry. My helpful contractor chappie is going to come up and take a look.

Not that there appears to be any need to rush the job. Apart from Niagara Falls doomsday, the weather continues fine. And the helpful chaps at the Met office have predicted that it will go on for a while yet. I’m not sure whether I should worry about my water supply or not. I mean it should be OK – I’m just one person, I’m now only up there a couple of days a week, and lets face it – it’s not that long since I was blogging about being buried up to my waist in 3ft of snow. When that lot all melted, at least some of it must have replenished the underground supply I depend on!

But just in case, I’m rationing my cups of tea and am drinking G&T instead.

In the meantime, the long list of jobs inside the house will have to wait. Proper sunshine in Scotland is rare enough that I’m going to spend all my time outside until it starts raining again. So another sunny Sunday afternoon found me continuing the Battle of the Weeds in the front garden.

The bit of land by the garage was all but done. I now have a treasure trove of scrap metal piled up  waiting for removal. So I decided to move on from the bit at the side of the garage and tackle the last remaining untouched patch of weeds at the front of the house.

I thought this bit was just going just a simple matter of pulling up weeds. But no! Mr Incompetent Builder clearly liked to scatter his belongings far and wide. Treasures found on this side of the garden included lots more fencing wire, barbed wire, a couple of circular saw blades and so many random lengths of electric cable that I actually began to wonder if I’d commissioned a garden lighting scheme that I’d forgotten about.

Fortunately it was a much smaller area than the last, so it should have been doable in a day. And there was even free entertainment laid on. A quad bike carrying local farmer and a couple of sheepdogs whizzed up the track early in the morning and came back driving a load of sheep down to pen them up outside my kitchen.

Quad bike, dogs and farmer then disappeared, leaving sheep milling around in that very idiotic way they have.

I have started to put chicken wire along the outside of my kitchen fence in a vain attempt to stop the rabbits coming in and feasting on my herb garden. But I haven’t quite finished the job, so there is s small part of the fence where the sheep could stick their heads through and have a good munch.

They clearly don’t get the irony when they started chewing up my bushes of mint. Self-flavoured chops anyone?

I ignored them and carried on with my gardening efforts. Until part 2 of the entertainment arrived. A lorry, a landrover and the quad bike pitched up bringing a few farm hands. It appeared it was sheep shearing time. The lorry opened up to reveal various ramps, railings and shearing equipment – it was a mobile hairdressing salon for sheep – without the shiny sinks and mirrors.

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There was a very lengthy discussion on how to arrange the various pens to set up an efficient shearing process. One holding pen, one pen to drive them into the lorry. Chuck them out of the side of the lorry into pen number three, and from there they can run back up the track to their field.

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Simple. But apparently there were a few of the farm hands off with the lurgy. There weren’t enough of them to keep an eye on the penned in sheep and keep the mutton conveyor belt moving.

Sheep appear to be scared witless of pretty much everything. So they were all pushing and shoving en masse away from the lorry where the shearing was happening. So much so that some of the sheep were being forced right up against the gates and were in danger of suffocating.

I should have got on with my gardening. I should have kept my head down. As it was, it was a bit difficult to say no when the farmer spotted me watching and asked “Have you got half an hour to spare?”

Which is why I found myself roped into the sheep shearing on a sunny Sunday afternoon. My job was to stand at various strategic parts of the fencing and scare the sheep so they kept moving around.

Well that’s a new one on my CV. I’m officially a sheep scarer.

It wasn’t the pleasantest of jobs. 100 sheep penned together at close quarters can be a bit whiffy. And they bring armies of biting flies with them. But hey, doing my neighbourly bit for the community.

And if my new job doesn’t work out, and the circus won’t have me, well maybe I could take up sheep shearing….

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Or knitting….

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