Sheep prove to be one of life's "many perplexing and endlessly disappointing mysteries" at the farm on the M62

Mother Nature has thrown just about everything she can at us in the last week or so. Sweltering temperatures, torrential downpours and thunder-storms.

Sheep prove a mystery at Stott Hall Farm for Jill Thorp
Sheep prove a mystery at Stott Hall Farm for Jill Thorp

The close, oppressive humidity has made work difficult and we’ve all succumbed to headaches and heatstroke. Thankfully, Stott Hall has a permanently cool interior. The thick stone walls and flag stones are impervious to the sweltering heat.

Sadly, the changeable weather proved too much for one of my Leicester tups. He’d been sharing a field with my mares and foals along with the other Leicester tups, so was checked daily.

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Despite appearing perfectly healthy, we found him one morning stone cold dead. I am constantly amazed at their ability to keel over with little to no warning.

Sheep, one of life’s many perplexing and endlessly disappointing mysteries!

The dirt bikers have yet again returned causing us more grief. They now come armed with bolt cutters as our chains have been cut, which I guess is a slight improvement on our fences being flattened. We woke one morning to find the cows huddled together in the yard, looking baffled as to how they’d got there.

It was a relief to us that they’d come uphill and not down, as the gate onto the road was wide open. They’d made quite a mess, trampled my few plants and knocked over just about everything as they barged into one another. Once safely returned to their field with more chains and padlocks put in place, Paul set off up the moor to survey the rest of the damage. They seemed to have opened every single gate on the property as well as turning our meadows into a muddy speedway. Sheep were everywhere except where they were meant to be.

Many were out on the main road that cuts through the middle of our land, dodging great quarry wagons as they thundered past. We had a wasted day of repairing fences, closing gates and putting everyone back where they should be. Paul looked defeated that evening.

We sat and came up with ideas of how to stop them coming onto the land, none of which were legal, and not for the first time discussed the possibility of calling it a day. The very thought of course appals John-William who for the most part is naive to the endless stress of farming here. Usually by morning we’re back on track, however, and all thoughts of giving up are long gone.

John-William’s return to school is now looking likely and despite his endless protestations, he will have to accept his long break is coming to an end. There is no doubt, I share his reluctance for the inevitable. This extended period of free time with him has been nothing short of brilliant.

His help, boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm for everything he does pushes us through the difficult days. But as Paul pointed out: “He’s eaten us out of house and home and we’ll save a fortune in red marker spray!”

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Thank you

James Mitchinson