The desperate plea for rain was heard and after a few drops, then splatters, the heavens opened and a great deluge of rain fell, finally extinguishing the devastating moorland fire that had taken hold.
A great sigh of relief was heard from the depths of the old mill towns in the valley bottom to the exposed raw plateaus of the Pennines and despite the damage being vast, the fire was at last out.
As we entered our first week of lambing the hill sheep, our own disaster struck! With a lamb tucked under one arm, a fat, stinking Teckel under the other, I watched with growing concern, Paul’s quad bike weaving precariously up the drive.
He was half slumped across the bike, his face ashen grey, one leg out at a slightly strange angle. As the bike came to a juddering halt in front of me, his head fell forward and it was several minutes of me urging him for a response before he spoke.
Whilst attempting to catch a particularly awkward ewe (a Cheviot, I might add) who was hanging her lamb (head out but no legs), he’d lost his balance on a steep, uneven banking and apparently bent his knee the wrong way.
He recalls hearing a strange popping and crunching sort of noise before the proceeding pain dropped him to the ground.
It was difficult to assess the damage through his layers of overalls and waterproofs, but judging by his colour and inability to get off the bike, I knew it was serious. He was taken to hospital leaving Casey and I to hold the fort.
He returned later that day, his knee back where it should be but with extensive damage to his ligaments and cartilage. Whilst he was immobile and drugged up on heavy duty painkillers I took the opportunity to remind him that I had on countless occasions told him to get rid of his Cheviots, Chivvies as he calls them.(I have my own special name for them!)
They are the cause of all our lambing-time injuries and general misery, but he defiantly clings onto them. After the “I told you so” banter was done with, something both of us take great pleasure in doing, the gravity of our situation began to sink in.
We sat going through a list of people we could prevail upon to help us. The list of course was short, those capable of lambing outdoors with a dog and knowledge of our land would be busy with their own stock.
John-William certainly couldn’t have anymore time away from school and the nurse had advised Paul to rest completely for six weeks. Phone calls were made and as in the past when we have come unstuck, the same few faces were only too willing to help.
A couple of friends, both busy with their own lives, dropped everything to help us out. A simple thank you is never enough to express our gratitude towards them, but I’ll say it anyway.