Although secret surveillance techniques probably aren't needed to figure out that marital relationships are certainly not helped by any jobs involving the white, woolly creatures, as I'm sure the arguments can be heard far and wide.
There's been a lot of sheep work here recently. Lambing, treating for blowfly prevention, shearing, vaccinating, weaning, and drawing fat lambs, all just seem to merge into one other, and it often feels like we're hardly ever out of the sheep pens (or buchts as we call them here).
The most recent job has been gathering and shearing the hill ewes, a necessary evil that nobody looks forward to, and, yesterday, there was a big, collective sigh of relief when the last one jumped off the clipping trailer. To avoid another gather, we keep the ewes and lambs in bye until the start of September when they will get a second Ovivac injection and then weaned. It's often quite a tight time for grass, but this year there's plenty, so hopefully the lambs will get a good boost and the ewes will go back to the hill in fine fettle.
Cattle are having a relaxing summer, with much less stress than during the heat that we had this time last year, and the calves are growing well. Unfortunately, we have two pet calves, with one drinking litres of milk every day and growing like a mushroom, while the other has steadfastly refused to even look at the bottle and is about half the size. After weeks of battling three times a day to get her to take enough milk to keep her alive, she's finally eating enough grass and feed to let us ditch the bottle which means everyone involved is in a much better mood and she's stopped galloping off every time she sees one of us coming towards her.
The bulls have just been swapped and will be out for one more cycle before we take them off. We've been steadily cutting the time they're out for the past few years and are now down to an eight-week bulling period, which will be appreciated in June next year when I can - hopefully - make it to the Highland Show without having to worry about cows calving. I'd love to get an even shorter window, but it's easier to get my husband's buy in for a gradual change rather than doing it all at once. After almost 25 years of marriage and farming together, I'm starting to understand the best psychological techniques for getting things done the way I'd like them to be.
Maybe the imminent arrival of our matching t-shirts will mean that sheep work will progress more harmoniously in future, although I won't be betting on it.