Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Quem pastores

The last ewe finally lambed a full two weeks after the others. Oddly the raddle mark on her bum showed that she had been tupped at the same time as the others, but biology and calendars have a habit of confusing the unwary. Or perhaps she was just the ugly one, and the ram deliberately left here until the last (she looks attractive enough to me, but maybe that's rather more information than one should put in a blog post!).
There's always a slight pang of reget when the lambing comes to an end. The long, chilly evenings spent in the lambing shed are tiring enough, admittedly, but there is also something magically atavistic about seeing a new life arrive. Sitting there in an old chair, cat dozing on the lap and just a dim light from the lamp and the sounds of rustling,breathing and cudding, there's a feeling of a bond shared with every shepherd back to the dawn of time.
They're out on the pasture now, though; the ewes happily working through the fresh grass and the lambs alternately running in packs up and down the hedge-line and dozing in untidy heaps in the sun. The swallows have returned and the days are longer, so (for now) all is at its best. And I'm finally catching up with sleep.

Work continues to come in, thank goodness; thus far the recession doesn't seem to have deterred people from wanting work done on their houses, although the new builds around here are nearly all on stop, and lay-offs are continuing. Interestingly the website stats show that around a quarter of the hits over the past month have come from searches on 'penetrative damp'. Has the Daily Mail done a feature on this lately? I'm intrigued to know the reason for the sudden surge in interest for penetrative damp.

Meanwhile the conservation project work seems to have settled into a routine of 10 per cent 'useful' work and perhaps 90 per cent bureaucracy, with seemingly endless paper-trails to be laid and followed. Today's exercise is 'branding'. To quote, 'In accordance with Annex VI of EC Regulation 1974/2006 it is a requirement to acknowledge and promote the assistance from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development also known as “EAFRD”.' and so on, for 16 bloody pages, until the clincher; 'It is important to adhere to these European requirements. If they are not met, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) payments to beneficiaries may be withheld or “clawed back”.'
That's telling me.

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