Powerless – The Year the Lights Went Out

Wednesday, July 2 – No flies on them

Such a glorious day and I was happily pegging out washing and thinking it might be warm enough to cook outside on the barbecue this evening when Linda came rushing over from the caravan. She said the warm and wet conditions had brought out the flies and Neil was struggling to get the sheep rounded up. He wants to start shearing if he can, but needs some help.
Martin had just come in from splitting logs and said he and Stephen would go over to help. Linda said she wouldn’t mind assisting, but several of the sheep look as if they’ve already got fly strike. I looked at Martin, as he can be terribly squeamish, unless it’s a giant spider, and asked if he was sure he could cope. He crossly said of course he could cope and stomped off with Stephen.
I told Linda I was sure he’d be back before long as he’s never experienced fly strike before and won’t even touch any dead creatures in the garden. She laughed and said she was with Martin on this one. She said she can cope with stillborn lambs, castrating rams and foot rot, but she draws the line at flies.
In the end, Martin lasted nearly two hours. He came back looking rather green, saying he’d had enough and Neil had run out of pour-on. I told Martin to stoke the fire and put the kettle on and I went to the shed to see what I could find. We had a full can of Jeyes fluid and I mixed up a strong solution to fill four old plastic plant sprayers. Then I grabbed my rubber gloves and went to join Neil.
By the time I got there, the sheep were sorted into three groups and Stephen was also looking rather grim, so I told him to go back to the house and help his father with the wood and keeping the fire going. There were only four sheep that definitely had fly strike and the other groups were lambs that won’t be sheared this year and the ewes due for shearing. Neil was inspecting this last group more thoroughly in case they too had flies. Then we tackled the affected sheep. Neil held each one while I rubbed the Jeyes fluid solution into the infected part, making all the maggots wriggle to the surface of the fleece and drop to the ground. Once they’d all been treated, we penned them up separately from the others, just to be sure they were clean.
Then we started shearing. Neil normally has a shearer visit in the summer with petrol driven equipment, but there is no way of contacting her or getting hold of the right kit in time. Neil was cursing himself for not having his own gear, so we had to cut the fleece away with dagging shears. I ran back to the house at one stage to fetch my dressmaking scissors, but there was no way we could speed up the process. We did about half the flock and then decided that was enough for one day.
When I got home, Martin said he didn’t know how I could bear to touch the maggoty fleece. I laughed and said I would have collected the maggots for the hens, if they hadn’t been contaminated with Jeyes fluid.

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