On Friday, the farmer had to make the agonising decision to have the ewe destroyed. Unable to go through with it himself, he brought someone in to do the gruelling task. And the farmer turned away, walked in the opposite direction and shed a tear. He is a sensitive farmer and that is only one of the many reasons why I married him.
We have security lights outside the house, fixed onto the wall. Three in total, two of which no longer work. Probably just a new bulb needed, and a brave ladder climber. The one which is working is located at the front of the property. It has not worked for over twelve months. Since my late father-in-law moved out to be precise. When we had the lights fitted, this particular one was hardly ever used. Reason: Jim (bedroom located at the front, now my office) never closed his curtains and every time the light came on he complained that it disturbed him. "We don't need lights on outside at night," were his exact words. I can hear him say them now. The whole object of the security lights was to enable us to see what we were doing when outside, at night. The light was therefore switched off and never used. However, when Jim moved out I switched the light back on. It worked for about two months then decided to give up, just when we needed it most during the lambing last year.
Over the course of the last twelve months we have switched it on many times only to conclude that it refuses to light our path. Then last week, just as this season's lambing was getting under way, 'Voila', we have light. No one has changed the bulb and no one has touched the light in any way. It is all rather mysterious, yet it feels rather comforting at the same time. Jim's favourite time of year was the lambing season. When he moved to spend his final weeks in the nursing home he constantly asked about the lambs. In his mind, he saw the ewes with their lambs in hot pursuit, parading up and down the corridors. When an old man had spent eighty-two years living on a farm, eating, breathing and dreaming of his beloved stock, it is not surprising that he now returns to do what he can to help. He knew only one life; and even though he was a cantankerous old bugger, he was happy.
The year before he moved off the farm, he insisted he was able to manage assisting the farmer with the lambing duties. He was eighty-one. His cheeks were always rosy and his determination continued right to the end. The farmer was lucky if he got two hours sleep in twenty-four due to Jim's inability to do the task in hand. But between them, they carried on. I helped when I could, which usually consisted of making a flask of tea and a plate of sandwiches. That was all Jim would allow me to do. He refused my help because he felt it would have been seen by others as him throwing the towel in. I do not know if my farmer will still be lambing when he is eighty-one, but I sure hope he is well enough.