The handful of ewes still clinging on to their babies are out in the fields next to the house. They’ll lamb when they lamb, still closely watched by John-William.
The sheep shed has been mucked out and the shearing equipment set up, ready for the hundreds of ewes that will pour through the yard in the coming weeks.
They look a cumbersome crew entering the shed, their thick fleeces laying heavily on their backs. Some have partly rubbed away their wool, great matted clumps of it trailing behind them.
Once clipped, they always seem to have a spring in their step as they leave, free of their winter coats. Of course John-William is at the ready, spray in hand, eagerly marking up any he can whilst backs are turned.
Our poor old Limousin bull, Herbie, has returned home after a short-lived summer with his girls. Showing little to no interest in any of them, he has stood listlessly, head down and weight dropping from his mighty frame.
It’s hard to know what ails him, we’re hoping he hasn’t found some discarded garden waste to feast on, but whatever it is, he’s not up to his job.
Luckily, another bull was acquired from the same farm that bred Herbie and he has eagerly taken his place. It’s essential for us that the main bulk of the calving is out of the way before we start lambing, hence the panic to replace Herbie.
He is now home, thankfully he is eating and seems a bit brighter but sadly, a shadow of his former self. Perhaps old age has finally caught up with him.
The essential works at Scammonden where the bridge spans the M62 motorway have made us take a different route to and from the farm.
The closure of the bridge has meant that we have a very long detour to get up onto Deanhead, the remote, sweeping valley where the bulk of our sheep live.
As we drive up here several times a day, the sheep are always looked onto, but unfortunately for us, whilst our backs are turned, our fields are being plundered.
We have friends that live on the edge of the valley who do their best to keep an eye out, but when faced with gangs, intent on taking what they want, there is little that can be done to stop them.
There are no words that can describe our utter rage at this type of theft. Our endless toil and mental stress we suffer, as like so many others, fight daily to make a living to have our stock stolen from our own land is unbearable.
We are not alone, it seems many sheep farmers are suffering at the hands of these despicable, barbaric thugs, helpless, like us, to put a stop to it.
As Paul so often struggles to see a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel he now finds himself in, I too begin to question the future of our once brilliant agriculture industry.