Opinion: Fairer sex brings a touch of class to upland sheep farm

It’s a year ago now since I went to bed with the local primary school teacher and woke up the next morning lying next to one of the local sheep farmers.

In some circles, this might sound like one hell of a night out, but it’s not the sort of thing that happens very often in rural Wigtownshire.

I should explain that it’s been exactly 12 months since Mrs McQ gave up her job as a schoolteacher to become a farmer.

See also: Why we need good health and good role models

I have to be honest and admit that I wasn’t sure if she was doing the right thing at the time. I was fairly certain that once she stopped bringing in her regular wage we would still be very happy – but stony broke until the end of time.

However, Mrs McQ was more positive about our future than I was. She was confident that, once she started to devote all of her time to the farm, our income would start to go up. This, in turn, would more than compensate for the loss of her regular pay cheque.  

It wasn’t long into the experiment before it became obvious that she was right about things on the farm starting to go up, but it wasn’t our income.

Our feed bills have been on an amazing upward trend during the past 12 months. Our vet and medicine expenses have also spiralled in an upwards direction. 

Mrs McQ had obviously not allowed for 10 months of winter and two months of drought when she did her forward planning last year.

Then there was the misguided notion that we would be able to enjoy more time together now she was working at home. The truth is, I see less of her now than I did when she went to school every day. 

She disappears in the morning (with my sheepdog) and I never know when she’ll turn up next. You’ve no idea how annoying it is when she comes in after dark and tells me everything that she’s done that day. Even worse, she rarely ever asks me what I think she should be doing next.

With our costs all up on the year and a steady decline in the price of prime lambs, my earlier predictions of a cash flow crisis this autumn seemed almost inevitable.

I was just building myself up to having the “I told you this would never work and if you keep on going this way we’ll be ruined” conversation with her, when we took our Beltex rams to the auction mart at Carlisle last month.

Dammit, our rams have never looked better and many people in the auction mart were very quick and kind enough to tell us that.

Our rams just looked as if someone had been taking good care of them every day. They had never been allowed to go lame and they had received all their wormers, vaccines and vitamin drenches when they were supposed to during the previous 12 months.

As a result, we achieved great prices in the market for our rams this year and our income will undoubtedly be up.

Oh, I just hate it when she’s right. The expression “every day’s a school day” has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

See more