This year’s the last time... really!

Despite an adamant approach to the subject of clipping the sheep; “Never again. That’s it. I’m going to get someone in to do them who is younger and fitter”, once more the clippers have been dusted off.

I’ve raked out the ibuprofen gel to massage into sore knees and back once the job has been done and the wool packs are filling up. John has decided he will clip the sheep for one more year.

But now he is taking a steadier pace to the job than in previous years. Once upon a time he and Geoff would have a mad couple of days and get all the flock done at the same time.

Now John takes a few sheep out here, a few more the next day and this morning, he is doing the final twenty four. Jessica, our granddaughter has been helping with wrapping the fleeces to stuff into the wool sacks.

As it is no longer such a precise job to wrap and secure each fleece, she does not require Geoff’s skill at that job. My role is refreshment lady. I have helped gather the sheep up as, without a dog, it is much harder to collect the flock.

Next year we hope the purchase and training of a sheepdog puppy could make me redundant.

In truth the sheep are getting warier and warier about being driven into the collecting area. John has made this inland in order not to drive them through the fields that the cows are in to reach the usual collecting corral.

He has fitted up a wide corridor between two fields with extra high gates and used this area instead. It works well. Or rather worked well. The sheep now know that being driven out of the field into this race means either being dosed, dagged out, clipped or jabbed.

None of which they appreciate. The first case this year however of a lamb with maggots means that this is an exercise they are going to have to learn to put up with as an itchy rear end is something they would not want to.

Fortunately the maggots had not started to eat into the lamb and John could just cut off the muck around the lamb’s tail.

The halt in clipping proceedings came about because of the jubilee celebrations.

I am afraid I had hit it with all of my usual tasteful restraint down to jelly moulds of the Queen, Union Jack cake, bunting, flags, streamers, balloons, corn beef pie and jubilee chicken.

The table was laden with red, white and blue sprinkled cup cakes and the dress code was strictly coordinated in the same colours. Perhaps restraint was not the right word to use.

But today, a little bleary after our trip out to see a beacon lit we are back on the job. Our first hatch of guinea fowl chicks is peeking out from underneath a proud broody bantam and the sheep are baaing and bleating to be away from their lambs and the indignity of the clip. Get on there.

Mrs Downs Diary