bringing in the lambs, walling and wielding a bill-hook
Emma Heseltine - 05 December 2011
I’ve been sent on a solo herding mission. Now in general Sheep dogs will work for one person, Trim is a one woman dog and will start to round up the sheep for me, but I have little control after ‘away’. I’ve been working on Skye and think he will at least obey simple commands from me, time to test the theory; I’ve to get the lambs in at Walllace field. In a flash he’s away and bringing the lambs up the field to me, Trim heads around the outside of the field to catch any stragglers. Just a couple of ‘lie down!’ and the lambs are thundering through the gate next to me followed by a very keen Sheepdog who did exactly what I asked. Trim brings up the rear having been around the entire field. It would have taken me a horrible amount of time to do that without dogs; I know I’ve tried. It wasn’t me who did the actual herding but I feel ridiculously proud of our team work, and give Skye lots of pats and praise. What a team! Now to weigh and sort out six fit lambs for next week, with the dogs carefully watching every move from the edge of the pen just in case they need herding a little bit more. Collies are workaholics.
We have some walls to fix at Willowford, some have become a little dislodged by cheeky sheep with no respect for boundaries so a lesson in dry stone walling is in order. Although considering it throws it down all afternoon there isn’t much dry about it. First lesson, if you pick up a stone find a home for it. We dig it out the foundation a bit first and make a flat-ish base on which to start. Soon there is a concentrated silence as we work on this rather large jigsaw. There is something very satisfying in finding the right place for each stone and seeing the wall start to emerge. At some point I ponder how the stones were originally transported here, Liam soon puts me right, we are right next to another more famous wall that is somewhat ruined. The stones didn’t travel far; they were pilfered when the Romans left.
There are some Sycamores in Tarraby wood. This is bad apparently; we don’t like Sycamores, at least not as much as some of the other trees. So today I’m getting a tree felling lesson. I don’t think I’m ready to be using a chainsaw, I definitely want a course in that one, so am helping with a bill-hook. Richard, my expert of the day, explains the finer points of tree felling and the problems of trying to do so in a wood, namely the tree wont fall but will get caught in the branches of other trees around it. We soon have the Sycamores down and I am happily chopping off the smaller branches with the bill-hook. It’s quite satisfying and I’m even allowed to yell ‘timber!’ at one point. They’ll make a lumberjack of me yet.
Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.
Post a comment