The changing weather - and sheep shearing - is making life difficult for Jill Thorp and her family on the farm between the lanes of the M62

After this last couple of weeks, I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever have a temperate climate again

The changing weather has been a challenge this week at the farm

We’ve been baked to a crisp during our late spring months, the grass has burned brown, flowers crisped and curled at the edges.

Just when we thought the land was going to succumb to what seemed like an eternal drought, the heavens opened. Those first few days were so very welcome, nature sprung back to life and our island was once again a green and pleasant land. But then as we all know, once it starts, it just doesn’t stop.

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After a continuous torrent of rain that lasted nearly two days, I was beginning to wonder whether I should bring the foals inside. Despite being tough, little Mountain ponies, the relentless rain was starting to take its toll on them.

I went up to see them one evening and stood staring out from under my waterproofs, feeling very sorry for them.

They were both huddled tightly under a wall which was thankfully shielding them from most of the wet weather. Their mothers, hardy and robust, continued grazing, bums pointing into the weather. They all looked somewhat bedraggled, the mares well used to the changeable weather, the foals wondering what on earth had happened to the sunshine.

I left them and headed down to the field where my Leicesters were also sheltering from the wet. They were faring slightly better, a large hawthorn hedge and numerous trees dotted around their paddock giving them some protection from the elements. I didn’t want to disturb and rouse them from their sheltered position, so left, hoping the foul weather would ease off during the night.

The following day I had a message from a local resident. Her house overlooked their field and she was concerned about the sheep. She’d noticed one of the ewes wasn’t letting her lambs suck and now she feared one of them was missing. I headed over, already regretting my half-hearted check the previous day. It was apparent straight away that the ewe in question had mastitis.

Even more worrying, both of her lambs were missing. I found one in the corner of the field, sadly deceased, the other seemed to have vanished without trace. I searched every inch of the field and surrounding hedgerows, but it was gone.

I felt bitterly disappointed and kicked myself for not being more vigilant, but as is the norm with sheep, one minute they’re fine, the next they’re not.

In between showers and waiting for sheep to dry out, shearing is well under way. It’s a back-breaking task, one that I have absolutely no desire to learn. It leaves Paul, stooped and aching.

Most evenings he collapses in his chair, too exhausted to make it upstairs to bed. His days as a contract shearer, clipping two hundred a day are long gone. Twenty a day and he’s done in!

As a friend once said: “Hard work never killed anyone, but it makes ’em walk in some funny gaits”!