Nervous gathering of sheep on farm between M62 as wildfire blazed - Jill Thorp

It was a stressful Easter for Jill Thorp on the farm between the lanes of the M62. Picture by Gary Longbottom.
It was a stressful Easter for Jill Thorp on the farm between the lanes of the M62. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

The pair of us cut a sorry sight on Monday morning dragging our feet through the school gates. John-William didn’t want to go and I most definitely didn’t want him to, but the holidays had come to an end and that was that.

He hasn’t had much of an Easter break, instead of trips to the cinema or play dates with his friends, he’s been stuck in the lambing shed with me. Considering he has not long turned six, the boy can work. He has mucked out countless pens, fed the cade lambs morning, noon and night and seen to all the dogs. He keeps the shed well bedded down and brings all the lambing ewes in at night-time with Paul’s old dog, Tilly.

I’ve no need to feel too guilty about his lack of fun time because he loves being on the farm. As soon as we arrive home from school he’s straight to the cade lamb pen and then tears off across the field with Sophia and Romilly chasing his shrieks of laughter. We’ve enjoyed the first couple of weeks lambing, our Mules and Texels are relatively placid and easy to deal with.

Despite the Mules getting a bit carried away this year and producing more lambs than we know what to do with, they are excellent mothers. They lamb easily and have plenty of milk. We’ve also been helping Paul’s brother, Casey, with his pedigree Texels. There’s been much laughter at my expense as they appear to be quite adept at flattening me when they don’t want to be caught!

READ MORE: What is life really like down on the farm in the middle of the M62?
The Easter break has proved to be a stressful one and has certainly drained us all. The fire on Marsden Moor Estate burned mercilessly and despite several helicopters attending, it eventually crossed the road onto our side.

Thankfully for us, the wind drove it away in the opposite direction but we spent most of the day nervously watching and preparing to gather the sheep in. Whilst firefighters worked in horrendous conditions, several more fires had sprung up on an adjacent hillside.

One of the helicopters managed to halt the spread of the new fires and finally by the following day the big fire was under control.

Great grey thunderclouds rolled in and by lunchtime the heavens opened up and we had the first deluge in over several weeks. The moor now smokes angrily, blackened and bereft of wildlife.

Residents of Marsden and the surrounding villages have been left distraught and furious at the selfish actions of others. This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the red listed curlew, sadly very much on the decline and desperately in need of our help to prevent it from disappearing from our moorlands.

With this in mind I am always left utterly perplexed when I see so many people displaying total disregard for the law and letting their dogs run loose, wreaking havoc to our precious ground nesting birds. Perhaps like learning the Highway Code when we want to take to the road, we should also learn the Countryside Code when we take to the hills.

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