Farming can be a fairly solitary existence at times – but there’s moments when you wish the sky would suddenly fill with the sound of some track and of all the times you wish this was case, putting the rams in with the sheep is definitely one of them.
We put the rams out with the sheep the other day. I took them up onto the hill, in the trailer and tried to call the sheep across, but on the day when it mattered most – they weren’t interested. I let the rams out of the trailer and they just put their heads down and ate the grass – they hadn’t seen grass as lush since this time last year.
I tried to drive them towards the sheep, but it was like herding cats – splaying out in all directions. We negotiated our way to the cusp of the hill, one of them shot it’s head up – the whiff of sheep in the air – and that was it, a switch was turned and as one, they ran and that was the moment – the moment you wished the horizon was suddenly filled with an array of Julie Andrews’s, all singing as one, ‘here come the boys…’
Of course, it never happens like that, but as you turn and walk back to the truck, with a wry smile on your face, you sing it under your breathe and sometimes that’s enough…
There’s an excitement to this time of year. The scars from the last lambing have been forgotten over those long days of summer, the vow to only keep half as many sheep and go and get a proper job has been annulled. You count up how many sheep you’ve got and realise you’ve actually got more of them, you tell yourself it’ll be ok – we’ll be better organised and this year we definitely won’t keep the cades. Over the Autumn, new rams have been bought, last years ewe lambs have graduated into full blown sheep and there’s anticipation about what the various sheep / ram combinations might combine to create.
Putting the rams in with the sheep, is also an act of commitment – that you’ll see them through to another year, that you’ll make it through to Summer and possibly even Harvest.
And so it seems like a good time of year to start our more public journey. Some people might know, that for a long time now, I’ve had a desire to develop a farm which young people can come to and consider the kind of people they’d like to be, how they’d like to hold themselves. In the last year or so, it’s started to become a reality and that’s been encouragement enough.
And so it is…
‘In the beginning were the sheep, and the sheep were sheep and the rams were sheep and the sheep were with the rams in the beginning.
Without the sheep, no rams were made. Without the rams, no sheep were made.
The sheep were with the rams in the beginning.’
‘Lord, we thank you for life,
We thank you for the fact we have it,
And we pray that you’ll help us to make the most of what we’ve got left,
We ask this in your name,