ONE of my favourite cartoonists was Henry Brewis, a Northumberland farmer. He used to do a brilliant depiction of a frustrated sheep farmer. Crook thrown in the air. Sheepdog scuttling for cover. Sheep in all directions.
Expletives deleted filling the air.
And so it was on Sunday morning.
The initial plan, simplicity itself, was to gather the lambs into a set of pens rigged up in the corner of the field.
Pick out those gimmers marked to go in with the ewes with the tups, and bring the others home for market. What could be easier?
Well for a start the sheepdog, Nell, is now deaf, and the lambs, without their wordly wide Mums haven’t got a clue when it comes to being bossed about by dog or shepherd. Total demoralisation for us followed when a couple of passing walkers offered to come in and help.
“We’ve been watching for a while” they sniggered (yes sniggered) “And wondered if you wanted a hand.”
“Thanks” John said “We’ll manage”.
Manage? I was on my knees, but, after we had put Nell back in the Landrover so that she could no longer perfect her trick of splitting the flock whenever they got within a sniff of the pens, we did eventually corner the little darlings and triumphantly shut them in the pen.
Sunday morning was back to the reality of farm life after a few days away playing at it. Last week, my granddaughter Jess and I were invited for a spot of glamping ( glamour camping) in her half term. We were at a friend’s farm.
They have a Feather Down Farm site which is the last word in luxurious camping; proper beds, proper flush loos, proper wooden floors. Fully equipped down to deck chairs and barbecue for outdoor eating and wood stove for heating. A Witches Cauldron to simmer your venison stew or vegetable soup from the farm’s honesty shop.
At Upper Shadymoor children can give the three goats their night time bottles, go on farm walks, collect eggs from the chickens, fish in the lake or help to feed Crispy and Bacon, the two pigs. Jess and I dared the hot tub and wild swimming experience in the lake, but I fought shy of the water trampoline. Unlike Jess.
It may be all play for the guests but hard work for the host farmers.
All the family play their part with thirteen year old Gregory a dab hand at meeting and greeting and making sure all the tents are spic and span and that the log basket is full.
I had had thoughts of converting our Shoulder of Mutton field, which lies in an idyllic woodland setting, into another Feather Down farm. Perhaps turning Rosie’s cottage in the farmyard into a holiday let. All thoughts of that disappeared when I saw the amount of work that goes into other people enjoying themselves.
Joy and Kevan may be offering a share of paradise, but they certainly work very hard for it.