After weeks of waiting and planning, it was time for the move. This was actually split into two moves, the first moving the animals and the second all our house stuff. I had got my qualification enabling me to move the sheep that distance. We have too few to get hauliers interested and we also liked the idea of moving them ourselves.
So, I hired a larger trailer to ensure the girls would be comfortable and we set up our own trailer to move the two boys. Our plan was to travel overnight so as to avoid the worst of the traffic. It is also a bit cooler at night and hopefully the sheep would sleep most of the way. I don’t think either of us were really looking forward to this drive, Somerset to Scotland. This was particularly true of Nicole who, only a few years ago, struggled even to drive on a motorway (let alone hundreds of miles up one – with a trailer).
We packed up all the animal feeds, spare water and a number of emergency items. Just in case! Our worst nightmare was breaking down and going over the 8 hour limit. But we’d done what we could, the trailer and both the cars serviced. Also, the trailer hire people (Boulter Mead) were great, they hired me a trailer which would suit my freelander (which has a pulling limit of 1.9 tons). The Landy Defender would have no trouble with our 8ft trailer and its two passengers.
We had brought the sheep into the shed a couple of days before and given them an anti worm medication as directed by our vet. We held them in quarantine in the shed. They seemed pretty relaxed about it all.
Around 9pm, we got started. First we loaded the chickens. They had pride of place on my front passenger seat, albeit in a box. Then we loaded the two boys. Months of constant handling and halter training paid off big time as they were safely tucked up in minutes.
Then we loaded the girls two at a time, again using the halter. This was not as easy as it sounds as once we had some girls in, then when the next two were brought to the trailer, those in thought it a good idea to try and get out! Still, it wasn’t long before they were all tucked up too (sheep nuts are just too tempting for them). They were split into two bays of 5 for their own comfort.
Soon, we were off. In convoy, we headed across Somerset towards the M5. Of course, the first motorway sign told us the M5 was closed further up. In fact, the M5 was closed and also the M6 in two places. The diversions were not too bad, just follow the lorries! That said, the diversion that took us through Birmingham was not much fun. I spent much time checking my mirrors to make sure I didn’t lose Nicole at a roundabout or traffic lights. Nicole stuck to me like glue. And the diversion signs were almost non-existent.
However, there were no traffic jams and, despite the closures and diversions, we made good progress. I had to stop twice for fuel as my car was just drinking the stuff. We just about managed 55mph so most of the lorries were overtaking us. But, we got here, just as dawn was rising. I parked the trailer in the field leaving myself a tricky reverse to attempt later. Nicole parked on the track just outside the gate.
We led the two boys up into their new field. Having been used to, at most, 3/4 of an acre, they now have about 5 acres to themselves. Even now, they are still exploring it a little at a time. Then out popped the girls, quite happy and started immediately tucking into the fresh grass. They too were led to their new pasture, a hilly field with rocks, fresh water via a stream and views of the Galloway Hills.
Then, we released the hens who just instantly loved their new surroundings. Two days later, they were merged with the resident flock and under the watchful eye of the cockerel, they settled in and made new friends.
I’ll post pictures of them in another post.
Then, after a couple of nights rest, I drove back down to take the trailer back. I drove overnight and it was a hard drive. I got to Bridgwater about 6:30am, slept for an hour, had a cup of tea and handed the trailer back when they opened at 8. Then, back to West End Barn to finish the packing.
Everything had gone really well up till now.
First, the removal lorry was delayed due to a wheel problem. Then, when it did arrive, it slipped off the drive and nearly into the pond. It was too soft to dig out. Things were not looking good. Luckily I knew a man with a tractor. To be honest, I knew a few of the farmers, so I started ringing round.
I got lucky. One had just got back and he came straight round. I have to say, I could not believe how easily the tractor pulled the lorry out. It was over in seconds. To say we were all relieved would be an understatement. The guys worked really hard to catch up. They didn’t get it all done on the Monday, so we walked down to the pub for a beer and a decent feed, then finished it in the morning. By midday they were gone.
I had a lot of cleaning to do!
By mid afternoon, I was on my way. I was really lucky with the traffic and was reunited with Mrs D later that evening.
Next day, the lorry arrived and we unloaded it. Again, the removals guys worked really hard. By 6:30pm we were done.
The move was finished, well almost, the tractor and gypsy caravan are not here, but those are other stories…