Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Willy Poole Column

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Willy Poole Column

Article excerpt

Byline: By Willy Poole

Spring is springing here and I hope it is with you. Have you had the lambing storm yet? Can't have spring in Northumberland until you have had the lambing storm.

I have tried to explain to the locals about "la tempete d'agnelage" (hope I've got that right) but they can't get their heads round it.

It is just another confirmation of the madness of the English. Mind you, I do not remember much spring in Northumberland. "Three months winter and nine months bad weather" was what I was told and I never found a reason to argue with that.

I remember my lambing storm.

It was Friday, April 13, 199?. I do remember that it was the first lambing in what was then "the new shed". The ewes had started early and lambed fast. Still, as Old Tom used to say: "The hotter the war, the sooner the peace."

By April 13 we were well through and just put the first lot of ewes and lambs away to the croft.

I remember that it was a beautiful spring day and I had been working in my shirt sleeves all morning.

It came suddenly out of the north west, a black storm of screaming wind and horizontal sleet. The temperature must have dropped 10 degrees in as many minutes. I did not think that it could last.

It got worse.

The shed was full, but at 10pm Herself and I went out with torches and herded all the ewes and lambs that we had put out in the spring sunshine earlier in the day, back into the shed and out of the freezing, killing blast.

We just shovelled them in higgledy piggledy and mis-mothering be buggered. We had a fine to-do sorting out the next morning, but we did not actually lose a lamb.

I thought of the "expert" who wrote that a "sheep shed is only an expensive overcoat for the shepherd" and then I thought of the man who had no shelter, but went out that morning with a tractor and link box and picked up 150 tiny frozen corpses. I never regretted building that shed. It must have paid for itself several times over.

I AM reminded of another spring storm in Yorkshire, which stranded several married couples in their cars overnight on the road over the infamous Blakey Top. …

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