Saturday, 21 November 2009
The local militia are on the whole a helpful bunch and put up with my amateur attempts at animal husbandry. Our paths often cross, my path tends to be a well worn boot trodden dogs at heel path whilst theirs in aboard a top of the range quad bike with collies as optional extras. Courtesies are always exchanged, weather details confirmed and sightings of lost and found sheep compared. Its useful for all concerned given there is a 500 acre wilderness behind our homes that as many eyes as possible are watching the hills for signs of trouble.
Our Ryelands fit the category with a capitol T.
Take last Wednesday for instance. A new militia man phoned Rock HQ. Some walkers had found a sheep on its back in some signs of distress. He being the first militia they contacted was duty bound to go up onto the ridge and sort out the problem. The problem being this time an extremely fat, almost ball like ewe called Roxy who has an enormous capacity for self harm and has twice been dragged from deaths door after prolonged periods spent on her back. Third time she was still lucky and the militia man took her back to his farm and fed her while he tried to find out who was mad enough to own such a daft specimen of sheep. Rene served as a transporter and the fat madam was collected from a farm some six miles away and returned to base. The militia were rewarded with a nice box of biscuits and Roxy was reunited with the rest in the yard.
Today I went for a stroll over the ridge in the early morning torrential rain, the low cloud reduced visibility to around ten yards, but it was fun and I found breakfast (more mushrooms). What I didn't find was sheep.
Back at HQ another militia phone call. Two sheep, one desperately weak had been found bearing our tags. On our way. Now one of the differences between smallholders and real farmers is that real farmers have trailers. So once again the seatless Rene was used as a sheep transporter, much to the surprise of the militia who for a few moments thought we had lost our trailer en route, satisfied that we had just lost our minds she helped lift the "exhausted" Ryeland into the back of the Rx4. This time sausages were given as a token of our appreciation. The cause of our journey across the county was immediately identified as Roxy, who has obviously caught the travel bug and is keen on sampling other farmers bed and breakfast facilities. I am hopeful this wanderlust is sorted as the rewards for the militia are worth more than the sheep!