After purchasing the land we were delighted to see stretches of new fencing along the tracks; however once we started putting sheep in the fields it was like a leaking ship. Actually it was more like the Mary Rose at points with not just agile lambs, but lame ewes escaping.
It transpired that shortly before the sale the previous owner decided to start putting in some new fencing, but before they could finish the job the land sale went through so some fields wen’t livestock proof. The crafty ewes had not only found their way onto the main track, but got under a second fence into a second field, broke through a third fence back onto the same initial track but on the other side of the gate and then into a third field. Confused? Welcome to herding sheep.
We have a complex contract; in that we are in charge of maintaining the land, including fences. Trevor, who rents the land, hasn’t said anything, but he’s too nice. So I decided to go and try to fix the fence.
Previously I’ve only seen 2 or 3 ewes in the escaped fields, but as I arrived to fix the fence I was confronted by dozens of ewes! Crap.
After fixing the gap under the fencing with a couple of old wooden gates and rocks I began to herd the old girls back in through the gates. As I calmly guided them with a readable amount of directional pressure they all made their way nice and calmly into the field. Boom, job done. I closed the gate and felt quite elated. But I’d missed one. Bugger. Sheep have a herding instinct, when they get scared the mass together and follow a leader. So 100 sheep can be easier to move than 1.
The dumb ewe kept trying to get through a gap I’d boarded up, but one that was under shrubs so I just couldn’t get close to grab her. In the end she bolted into the 3rd field. As I approached I saw another ewe in there; no problem I can grab the two of them, job done. But once in the field I could see was a whole flock in there. That was it, towel thrown in, time for the experts on 4 legs. There’s no human match to a good working collie, so i called Trevor in with his dog Roy.
While pissed I missed the one ewe there was great self satisfaction in fixing the fence and moving the majority in a fairly calm chilled movement.
The fence fixes were only temporary, once I’ve got over a recent bug I’ll have to get down and do something more permanent. I’ll keep you posted.
Back in early March we noticed 12 Herdwicks had escaped from the far fields (which used to be Low Nest land) into the Hogget field (ours). I did briefly attempt to herd them back into the field, but without a dog and a large expanse of area it’s just too hard. So had to leave them. I later heard that these escapees totally disappeared, no sight or sound has been spotted of them!
Sadly; they’d escaped through a gap in a bit of fence we have responsibility for. The whole stretch is knackered and needs replacing. I’m happy to do internal fencing, but we prefer to get any boundary fencing done by a professional, just because their fencing is generally stronger.
The local lads for the job are the Birkett brothers, but we hadn’t met them yet. A couple of days ago Johnny popped over to give a quote for the new fence.
We took his pickup down to the job and chatted as we went about the work he’d done on the land previously and about his families farm on the other side of the rigg in St Johns in the Vale. They’ve also got the contract to rebuild all the walls from the United Utility pipelne work.
On our way back up, and after I got in the van having just shut a gate Johnny was laughing and holding a very obviously agricultural syringe he said:
“Ha ha ha, just realised how odd it must look with all these syringes around.”
“Nah, that’s not bad. The dead lamb in your boot’s a bit odd mind!” I replied.
We laughed, but that is life at this time of year.
As we walked through Big Mead field I noticed something shimmering on the grass. As we drew closer I started to question how a plastic bag, or something like that, could have found itself in the middle of the field? It got me a little bit angry. Then I saw it was a helium balloon, which could have been let off deliberately, and I got really mad. But then I read what was written on it. All over the now deflated balloon we messages of love and memoriam to a grandmother.
We grabbed the ballon and carried on walking to the old barn. As we sat and enjoyed the warming suns rays we got to discussing the balloon. Over the last couple of years there has been a shift in public mood around releasing balloons, primarily led by farmers who are concerned about livestock eating them. But livestock are famously picky eaters, no sheep went anywhere near this one. The case of them littering the countryside and polluting the oceans is much stronger. However, and maybe we’re too compassionate, for some people writing a message of love to a recently deceased family member and watching it saw into the heavens can be a release and comfort them when they really need it.
Sky lanterns are a whole different thing. Even the paper ones that won’t be digested by livestock are dangerous. We realised that if one of those was to land in the Bottoms field with it’s brittle dry reeds then we’d have a fairly large fire on our hands. When we were in the lifeboat we were constantly called out to people mistaking a sky lantern for a flare!
We really don’t want it to be a regular occurrence, but don’t feel too bad if somebody in your family wants to write on a balloon and release it. Just try and get one the biodegradable ones and lets not make it a common thing!
We’ve decided to start a blog! We’ve tried to start one on numerous occasions, but wanted to wait for a momentous occasion, or the start of a week/month. We also didn’t know what to write about, but with both of us now working at Low Nest and with the management of the land we’re finding so many funny anecdotes we want to share with you all.
It might not be daily and we might forget to keep it up to date, but we hope to share anecdotes and stories of what life is like at Low Nest.