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Green, an old carpenter told me, is a colour that “stands” well on a boat. His concerns were for the painting of sea-going fishing boats. Green, although deemed unlucky by some fishermen, was seen as a strong colour, which was unlikely to fade and wear. Nowadays sophisticated chemicals produce wonderful paints for all surface purposes.

For me green is comfortable, homely, secure, and pleasing to the soul.

Uradale is green once more. After the flood of last August and all its blackness, the scars are healing. Roads and pipes have been reconstructed. Fences replaced with new shiny gates - strange where the last lot disappeared to. 500 kgs of grass seed from Sweden have been mechanically and manually cast over the sour crust of the peat. Little grass seedlings now look like a carpet of darning needles sprouting from where they came to rest.

As is always the case the weather has been changeable; not the most benign of conditions for predictable production without fertiliser. Lambing time caused few losses with few remarkable happenings apart from one lamb being run over by our local Sheriff. Phoning to report this incident he asked, “Did I require compensation?” “Oh no, no, Sir!” (Who knows when a beleaguered farmer might be hauled up before the Law and need a friendly face!)

BBC Countryfile arrived along with a day of heavy rain yesterday. I had organised a day of sheep clipping for them with the kind helpfulness of Kenny and Duncan, sheep shearers by appointment.


Jakob was going to be in charge of making sure the race was full and bagging the wool. It was really a bit early in the season so a few of the hill yowes were a bit sticky, but the boys did a splendid job as usual even with a large camera lens peering over their shoulders. The Countryfile team with Adam Henson as their cheery frontman were very nice to deal with. They seemed surprised how well they were looked after, but then that’s the way visitors are treated, generally. Especially, those who mean well.

At one point and in the interests of “continuity” Ruth, the delightful Director, asked me to go outside the shed and get a “bit wet” so I could come in again. Bizarre what a cynical curmudgeon can be persuaded to acquiesce to by complete strangers.
The cattle, which were supposed to be all photogenically grazing on top of the hill with a panoramic backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean had vanished into the clouds of heavy rain. When I called the cows to come and then went to drive the determined BBC up the hill things took just a little too long. As we started up the steep track the cattle came dancing down tails in the air. Clearly they were not going to miss out on any opportunity to have their picture taken.
The only difficult moment for me came when, with my eyes blinking because of the heavy rain, I was asked about the flooding of August last year. By chance we had received a settlement from our insurers NFU Mutual only 2 weeks ago. For any one interested that was a 10 month battle with people whose professional callousness could only be outdone by their Orwellian grasp of the facts. But, Hey, who’s bitter!

With a flight to catch the very “drooklt” BBC adventurers shared handshakes and best wishes before they set off at speed for the airport. As I returned to the shed the “yowes” were all clipped and with Jakob we reunited them with their lambs returning them to their pastures. The rain began to ease, the burn ran brown and a drying wind blew through the refreshed green valley again.

Hand Clipping at Uradale Farm

Next week holds the dubious pleasure of an Organic Inspection. I never ever appreciated farm inspections and this is definitely the case this year. The flood not only washed all my sheep tags out of our garage, but destroyed my paper records in the office. When the waters receded I gathered up what tags I could find and dried out the movement documents on the stove. The pages were all black and had to be separated with a butter knife – not a Rural Payments recommended technique.

Labels: BBC Countryfile, sheep clipping, Shetland lamb, Uradale Farm

  • Post author
    Ronnie Eunson