Lack of respect from ramblers almost let sheep onto the M62: Jill Thorp

Despite the odd shower and looming black clouds, our bottom yard is slowly filling up again with bales. The cows are all out enjoying the grass and feeling the sun on their backs.

Jill Thorp and family at their famous farm in the middle of the M62 in 2017. She was concerned this week to hear of sheep in a nearby field almost being let onto the motorway as a result of thoughtless ramblers. Picture: James Hardisty

Yet again, we’ve had some good friends helping us out, this time in the clipping shed. We’re slowly getting through them all, even with a lame man in charge! Whilst gathering the moor sheep, Paul was dismayed to discover yet again a gate had been left open. The recently clipped shearlings were all mixed in with the ewes and lambs.

The gate under Long Clough underpass was wide open. The stile at the side had clearly been too much of an inconvenience to the group of ramblers that had been out walking, much easier to just open a gate and of course not bother shutting it.

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Later that day I received a message from our local rural community watch group that sheep were out on the main road next to Junction 22 of the motorway. Yet again, a wide open gate, right next to the slip road of one of the county’s busiest motorways. Thankfully, the cattle grid had prevented them heading onto the motorway.

There seems to be a complete lack of consideration and respect for the countryside and those that live and work there.

Despite endless pleas from farmers and numerous horror stories on social media, photos of mauled sheep and farmers left devastated, pleading for greater enforcement of the law, the selfish “I have the right” attitude continues unabated.

The news earlier this week that the Great Yorkshire Show would be going ahead came as a huge relief. Despite only managing to secure enough pens for John-William’s sheep, we are all desperate to go.

Our favourite show, it gives us a much-needed break, a change of scenery and most importantly, a chance to catch up with friends that we rarely see. The social side of the show is what really makes it. The banter in the ring with fellow competitors, the celebratory drinks if you’re lucky enough to win and the camaraderie at the bar!

I love walking down the sheep and cattle lines, watching the frantic preparation. Endless washing, brushing, whitening of socks, oiling of horns. The look of pride on owner’s faces as they stride into the ring, a magnificent bull on the end of their rope or in our case, a slightly undignified entry to the ring, clinging onto the horns of a rather feral hill sheep!

Paul always heads to the machinery stands and stares with awe at the huge, glistening tractors, whilst dreaming of a Lottery win.

It will be John-William’s second year of showing his own ‘Ramsbeck Woodlands’ as well as hopefully attempting to win the young handler title again.

With the welcome news that we will be heading to Harrogate again, it’s time I dug out the white showing smocks. Considering the speed at which the little guy is growing, it’s likely I’ll be ordering a new one!

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