Digglum Bestiaruim ~ The Digglers' Crest

The Digglers

The Beginning

The Digglers' Sheep ~ ClydeOur Clyde arrived one spring day in 1988. I was busy looking after an orphan lamb that I had christened Bonnie (1). She had got separated from her mum during a terrible thunderstorm and she was only a few hours old. She was in the stable nestled in the hay and I was bottle-feeding her four times a day. This was pretty difficult due to my job but I was committed. It was whilst I was feeding her I heard a noise in the yard and found the farmer's son from across the way holding a corn sack that seemed to be moving about in a very peculiar way as if it had a mind of its own! He explained he had a lamb in the sack and that its mother had been killed on the road. As he opened the sack I had my first glimpse of my beloved Clyde. He seemed rather shy as he was put next to Bonnie in the hay. He soon got used to the routine and enjoyed his bottle of milk. Bonnie however became ill. This was due to her getting wet just after her birth. The vet was not optimistic as to whether she would survive. Clyde and myself had other ideas. He cuddled up to Bonnie to keep her warm and he didn't object to her having an extra bottle of milk. Soon the pair of them became firm friends and it was a lovely sight to see them skip and dance in the spring sun. The cats however were rather gob smacked as they used to jump in and out of their pop hole and land in the kitchen! As they grew, I busied myself in improving my knowledge on sheep rearing. For this I relied on the local farmers who were very helpful. It was time for injections, tail docking and castration for poor Clyde. Spring quickly changed into summer and my two horses Whisky Mac and Tobias enjoyed their new playmates and could often be found playing a game of chase up and down the fields. Summer slipped quietly into autumn and Bonnie and Clyde were re-introduced to the stables along with the horses as it would become their winter home. The following spring, Bonnie and Clyde left lamb-hood far behind and grew to be beautiful strong sturdy sheep. Clyde was starting to develop magnificent horns; some farmers have them removed as they can represent a danger to other sheep and to the farmers themselves. I did not take this option. They were Clyde's pride and joy.

Clyde's Roaming

As Clyde grew he became more boisterous and he was still very playful but because of his size and strength he was becoming quite dangerous. In the autumn I was to know the reason for this! I became worried about the horses. Clyde had developed a firm relationship with Whisky Mac and they went everywhere together. What had started out as fun, and still was as far as the animals were concerned now represented a great danger. I was concerned for the safety of my horses. One of Clyde's tricks was to head butt and he could easily break one of their legs. I therefore decided to separate the fields and to keep the horses and sheep in different sections. That I thought would solve the problem, but alas more was to come in the autumn.

Autumn is tupping time when rams apparently have most fun. Bordering my fields the land belonged to a sheep farmer. I went up one morning and found Clyde missing. Fortunately, Clyde was very vocal with a distinct baritone baa. When I called him, I heard this distinct call coming from the next field. Clyde was looking very pleased with himself, as he was surround by a large flock of ewes. I was later to discover that Clyde's castration had been unsuccessful and being a very neighbourly chap was helping the local farmers with tupping. However, the farmers did not see it in that light and they were furious! Clyde was having so much fun he refused to come home even though he was offered a great deal of corn. Ian, a local shepherd who would shear and dip my sheep was the only one who could handle Clyde and an SOS was sent for his services. I knew that this would be academic unless my fencing was raised otherwise Clyde would be out again. The services of Derek who did many jobs for me would be required to raise the height of the fence. Along came Derek to raise the fence. Along came Ian to capture Clyde and bring him home. Was that the end of the matter? Afraid not! Clyde survived only two days and he was off on his travels again! His baritone baa rang out this time from across the valley. My phone was like a hot line from angry farmers. One afternoon I got a frantic phone call from Jill who lived in the property above me. Could I come up as a matter of urgency? Apparently a flock of about thirty sheep were outside my gate and were blocking the road. I raced up and I think I would have given Michael Schumacher a run for his money to find all the sheep. Amongst them looking as pleased as Punch, our Clyde. I am sure he was hoping that I would take on board his entourage. That was wishful thinking as I tried to disperse the small flock. If that was my attitude, then Clyde was having none of it and he was certainly not coming home without his ewes and he was dispersed too! Apparently, the local farmer had rounded up Clyde and the moorland sheep and deposited them at my gate!

The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde

The news of Clyde's exploits became the talk of the village especially in the local hairdressers. The topic of the conversation was where was Clyde now and what was he doing. Ian and Derek were sent for again and now the fencing around the field was looking ridiculous, it had now reached 'deer' height. Surely this would thwart our Clyde? Oh, no! Clyde was a determined chap. He was only being neighbourly! The farmer was extremely angry especially when he had gone into the field to feed the sheep and Clyde had butted him. He was now threatening to shoot him! I must admit, Clyde was rapidly become a real threat due to his size and strength.

When I went up at teatime I found Clyde standing forlorn and looking very miserable in the next field. He was all by himself. Someone had removed all his ewes! The farmer had given up and had removed his sheep to new pastures and this had not included our Clyde. Clyde had decided that the next best thing to ewes was grub and he wanted his tea. However, the incentive to jump the fence and come home for grub was not as great as in season ewes. So there he stayed. Sylvia, a lady who lived across from my smallholding who spent many hours in the company of my animals decided she knew the answer. Get a bucket of corn and persuade Clyde to jump back. I was against this as Clyde was now a real threat. Un-deterred she marched across the field and surmounted the high stonewall that separated the fields. Rounded on Clyde and tried to usher him towards the wall and encourage him to jump. Clyde was not being bossed by anyone and was having none of this. He took one look at Sylvia ran and tossed her on to the ground. Sylvia was screaming for help. I knew that if I too entered the field, I would suffer the same fate. I got a bucket of food and took it to the top corner of the field to keep Clyde occupied and encouraged Sylvia to crawl towards the wall keeping on the ground. It is impossible to be butted by any animal if you are on the ground. This she did until she got near the wall then made the mistake of getting up and yes, it did happen again. Clyde saw what Sylvia was doing and ran at her again. Sylvia however, managed to get to safety and Clyde remained in the field. This was now a real problem. Clyde had to be brought back and the local vet summoned to re-castrate him.

The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde

Ian was sent for and Clyde was put in the stable out of harms way, or so we thought. He had one last exploit. He managed to escape and was seen in the fields across the valley again with the ewes. I was beginning to have nightmares about the whole situation and in spring I had vision of lots of lambs peeping over the wall at me all looking like Clyde. I was sure that the local farmers were having similar thoughts! I was heart broken when I returned at teatime and found that all the sheep had been removed and this time Clyde along with them. I called and called and there was no familiar baa. Distraught, I went to the see the people who owned the smallholding above me to see if they could shed some light on the disappearance of Clyde. They could. They had seen the farmer round up the sheep and Clyde with them. By this time the local farmer and me were not on speaking terms and I knew it was no use asking him to bring Clyde home. I was now afraid for the safety of Clyde and imagined all sorts of things. However, Andrew, who lived at the small holding above me, intervened on mine and Clyde's behalf and phoned the farmer and informed him that he had seen him remove Clyde. If anything now happened to him, he could be accused of sheep rustling. This however, did not stop me having a sleepless night. The following day I was still in a depressed state as I made my way to the smallholding. Would Clyde be back? The answer was no. In vain I shouted him. Imagine my delight when I heard his beautiful baritone baa echo from across the valley. How would I get him back? Poor, Ian was getting fed up with his trips to rescue our Clyde. I phoned Derek for assistance and asked him to remove some fencing. This proved to be a shock as he was used to being summoned to raise fencing. When Derek arrived, I got a bucket of corn. Derek went down the field to make a gap in the fence for Clyde to get through. I then raced down the field shouting Clyde. Clyde raced down the field across the valley calling to me. Scenes of Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music flashed across my mind, I'm sure I could have given her a run for her money! Clyde and I met at the bottom. He came and slowly we made our way back up the field and into the stable were he remained until the vet came to re-castrate him and that was to be a tale and a half!

Castration Day

The following day the local vet arrived accompanied by a trainee vet and an assistant, by the way she was dressed she looked more at home at a nightclub! Her job appeared to be in charge of the vet's surgical bag. The vet peered over the stable door and was met by a furious stare by Clyde. He asked if I had some rope, which I supplied, and he made it into a lasso and draped it over the door. The expectation was to hook it onto Clyde's horns. I thought he had watched too many westerns and knew full well that there was no way Clyde would oblige. Clyde wasn't very intrigued as this rope dangling towards him and whether it was boredom or not, disappeared into the next stable. The vet decided there was nothing for it but to go and catch him. I couldn't decide as to whether he was very brave or suicidal! Anyway in he went into the lion's den! I was extremely surprised when his female assistant decided to follow clutching the bag. I did warn her but she assured me that the vet knew what he was doing. Brave woman! The vet had fought a losing battle in the next stable and Clyde came hurtling towards his assistant. With a blood-curdling shriek she fled for the door, which I opened and was very impressed as she flew across the stable yard and jumped the three-foot high dry stonewall. What impressed me most was that she was wearing high-heeled shoes. Clyde ambled across the yard and surveyed his victim then turned nonchalantly and walked into the field. The vet immerged from the stable and decided that was that as Clyde had escaped. He looked quite unhappy when I said I could get him back in. No ewes in the next field so Clyde's other love was grub. Armed with a bucket of corn Clyde followed me back into the yard. The lady assistant looking decidedly ashen remained behind the wall still clutching the bag very tightly. Clyde came towards the stable but then remembered the reason for being in and turned ready to charge back into the field. This is when I was really impressed. The trainee vet established himself by the gate and as Clyde ran towards him stood his ground. Grabbed Clyde by the horns and they both flung around until Clyde was brought to the ground. The vet grabbed his bag from his assistant who was still in shock and Clyde was sedated. I feel the trainee vet had not found his true vocation and deserved to be given trials for the England rugby team. He would have made an excellent prop forward. Alas our Clyde was castrated. His wandering days were now gone. He settled down and became more docile. Many a time I saw him in the field with what looked like a smile on his face. Perhaps he was remembering his good times!

Up The Hill, Down The Hill

There was only one other occasion when Clyde left home. I went up one morning to find that during the night nineteen sheep had jumped into the field. I knew that they belonged to Ian the shepherd. His sheep were entitled to wander the moors and must have found their way down. I phoned Ian and he said he would come the following day to collect them. He knew that I was always on site early in the morning about six o'clock and sure enough he arrived with his dog. It was wonderful to watch Ian working with his dog. My job was to open the gate and let the sheep through and onto the road. I asked Ian to make sure none of mine (by now I had accumulated eleven more waifs and strays) went with them. He assured me that everything would be all right. At last Ian gave me a shout to open the gate and his sheep ran through but at the end I recognised my crew as they disappeared up the drive and onto the road. I yelled at Ian and set off after them. Puffing and panting I went up the road after them. Just as they were about to disappear round a bend, I shouted Clyde who stopped and called. He realised what he was doing and immediately charged down the road towards me. I saw my life flash in front of me and began to run like hell. In fact I didn't know I could run so fast! I managed to reach the gate before Clyde and the others and fortunately they went down the drive towards the field. Ian was stood, crook in hand with his dog watching all the antics. I then realised George another of my sheep was not with them. I told Ian I was without George and he volunteered to go and get him he did and before long George was trotting merrily down the road. The traffic had stopped by my gate due to the animals being in the road. One man got out of his car and clapped. He had never seen anything so funny and expressed that even though he would now be late for work, it had been worth it! No doubt I would be the talk of the local pubs for weeks to come.

Foot And Mouth

A few years ago it was the foot and mouth scare. All precautions were taken, disinfectant by the gate etc. If any farm had the disease it was put in quarantine and people were not allowed to leave. At the time I was working on a specialist educational team and I phoned the local authority to ask them how I would stand if this was the case and not allowed to leave my small holding. They were gob smacked and did not have the answer. Thankfully, nothing happened although there was a false alarm at a nearby farm. If it hadn't have been you would have been reading about me in the papers. They would not have got my Clyde, I would have taken him home and stuffed him in the garage for the duration and been armed with my pitchfork at the gate protecting the others. I cannot understand the logic of killing so many animals because of a flu type virus, which is harmless to humans and from which the animals can recover. That year there was also a restriction of movement of fleeces and when the shearer came I had to burn all the fleeces.

The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde The Digglers' Sheep ~ Clyde

Clyde's Final Antics

Unfortunately, Clyde had to have one of his horns removed. He had got it fast in something and he had pulled it so much that it was hanging off. He did look strange with only one horn. During his later life he developed Arthritis in one of his hind legs and had to have a monthly Cortisone injection from the vet. Our Clyde lived to be eighteen and he died peacefully. I got Mark to pick him up at take him to Rossendale Pet cemetery where he was cremated. He is in a beautiful casket with my beloved Clyde engraved on it. When I went to pick it up I was also given another box with the explanation that Clyde would not all fit in the casket! That's our Clyde always different to the very end. At the moment I am designing a Pennine garden where he will be given pride of place. I kept his horn that the vet removed and that will mark the spot where he will be buried. Knowing Clyde has enriched my life in so many ways. Thanks our Clyde. Reading this anecdote his life will be lived again!

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