Which could be a Shakespearean oath. One I might use regularly because cutting sheeps’ toenails is among my ten least favourite country jobs. I hold. Sarah cuts. I grunt and swear. She grunts and swears. The sheep grunt. Maybe they swear too but I don’t know.
Sheep are amazingly unwieldy. Never try to throw one. Sarah has had lessons in wrenching the sheep’s head to one side so that it lies down, but hasn’t quite mastered it yet so we compromise with me bent double holding the sheep against my knees. I can’t keep this position up for very long. In fact I don’t think anyone could. Get an armchair. Bend double. Put the armchair across your knees and stay like that for ten minutes while someone else pushes it around. That’s roughly what it’s like.
Then we had to do the goats and they are even harder. For a start you have to catch them, and they are as nimble as the nature films show them. Plus aggressive. Sid head buts and he has a corking set of horns. Nancy, his sister, just runs like hell. Eventually I threw my coat over Sid’s head and rushed him. It’s just the weather for it too. My secret love, that Carol off the telly who does the weather forecast from the Blue Peter Garden dressed in a never ending and gorgeous array of Little Miss Muffet coats, has been telling us for some time now that it’s cold. And by Christ it is cold. I’ve harboured this passion for That Carol for about a year now, largely because the weather has become our obsession.
We are grumpy old farmers when it comes to weather, and I now understand why all farmers are like this. It’s never right for what you’ve got to do, although I must admit, sheeps’ toenails are better in frost than mud. We had a party yesterday, which is unlike us. We asked everyone we know in the village and like, which excludes a lot. Everyone we know and like don’t necessarily know the others, so it was an interesting melting pot with the dentist, a glamorous young mother of about 35, chatting to David Paine, a horny handed woodsman of about 65. David and his wife Sue had buried her mother on New Year’s Eve. All the family were there including ‘that humpy old bitch Sue’s sister.’ We have adopted this phrase, which is usually followed by ‘one hump or two?’ and a lot of laughter. ‘She just likes to be the centre of attraction, the queen of the sheba’ he added and we laughed even more. David, who is one of the kindest souls either of us have ever met, has promised to take Sarah to a specialist spanner shop soon, so she can choose the spanners she’s giving me for my 60th. Sarah is really looking forward to this!
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