After days of glorious sunshine, the heavens opened on the last day and followed us all the way back up North, making our journey home long and tiring.
The ponies coped well with the endless stop-start journey, several accidents and large volumes of traffic adding hours onto our trip. John-William slept for most of it. Several days of running from ring to ring, charging round on his bike with his friends in the evening and late nights, early mornings had finally caught up with him.
He proved quite a weight on my back when I carried him to the house. Gone are the days when I could just scoop up his little body and carry him in my arms to bed.
My legs buckled somewhat under his exhausted body as I piggybacked him up the stairs. He woke just as I made the top step.
He slid to the floor and sleepily muttered: “Are we home already?”
The ongoing saga of the highway fence reached breaking point last week when everyday we received a phone call saying we had sheep on the motorway. The fence separating our land from the motorway belongs to Highways England.
When the fence was erected it was made very clear it was their property and their responsibility to maintain it. However, the maintenance has been ignored for many years, leaving us to keep patching the holes.
Following countless phone calls and emails only to be told “not my department” we approached the police about it and finally, new sections of fence have been put up.
Our latest gather of Moss Edge, however, revealed the shocking ineptitude of the workers involved. To demonstrate how easy the new fence was for sheep to escape, we videoed John-William on all fours sneaking under the fence.
He didn’t squeeze through on his tummy, but remained on his hands and knees.
It’s beyond comprehension that anyone could class the fence as stock proof. An adjacent fence, separating two pieces of moor was also in a dire state. Whilst it’s purpose was not as important as the highway fence, it meant that sections of the moor could be fenced off whilst regeneration work was carried out.
Another phone call came a couple of days later, but Paul was in no frame of mind to be polite. This time, he was directed to the right department and following a very heated discussion we were informed that we could bill Highways England every time we had to go and retrieve our sheep.
Hopefully neighbouring farmers will also be able to charge for their wasted time as well.
After reporting to them that the fence at the side of the cattle grid on the slip road was completely flattened, leaving our neighbour’s sheep free to walk straight onto one of Britain’s busiest motorways, it was appalling to see that several weeks later they had done absolutely nothing about it.