Chapter 1: Tractoring / Chapter 2: Sheeping / Chapter 3: Shopping / Chapter 4: Wilding / Chapter 6: Melting / Chapter 7: Fluffing / Chapter 8: Harvesting (Looking for my review? It’s here.)
It’s February 2020. Jeremy is preparing for lambing season, and they’ve built a lambing barn.
But soon the news is full of COVID. Lockdown is announced, but as food producers Kaleb and Jeremy count as essential workers and can keep working. Age, his smoking habit and a previous bout of pneumonia mean Jeremy is anxious about catching the virus. Kaleb is worried as he’s having to cancel his perm. Kaleb and Jeremy decide to socially distance by only using their own tractors, not each other’s.
The first sheep starts giving birth, but Ellen the shepherd has gone home. The birth goes well and Jeremy and Lisa await the birth of the lamb’s twin. Ellen arrives back and sorts out the second birth. As the lambs start coming, Ellen teaches Jeremy to ring their tails to prevent flies around their bottoms later, and to castrate the males.
Jeremy goes off to roller a field. His lans to plant spring barley have changed, as with the pubs shut (lockdown) theres gong to be far less demand for beer (which barley is used to make). Plus the wet winter means many farmers are planting it now which will mean a glut chasing a smaller market.
Instead he decides to plant four acres of vegetables, banking on imports being reduced. He explains the bigger problem COVID poses for farmers. There are 570 million farms in the world and 90% of them are run by one person or one family. COVID could mean the end of a farm if the farmer catches the virus, and they are being encouraged to keep diaries of what they do in case they get ill and someone else is able to take over. Jeremy wonders hwo he would get to take over Diddly Squat.
A few days later the baby vegetable plants arrive, as does a very old machine for planting. Three people can sit inside under a yellow tarpaulin, placing the plants into the machine, which then plants them. It will only work with Lisa’s small tractor, so she drives while Kaleb and Jeremy sit underneath the tarpaulin, a spare seat between them. It works well but it’s very, very squeaky.
Once it’s done Jeremy goes back to the lambing shed, assisting with births and removing lambs born in their “bag”. Ellen comes to the shed as the lambs start arriving fast, though during the night it’s left to Jeremy — building pens and helping with births. He finds a lamb in the wrong pen, and the nearest ewe starts attacking it. Eventually they find the right ewe, working it out from the list of singletons and twins.
Meanwhile Kaleb, who keeps away from anything sheep-related, is working in the fields. He discovers that Jeremy’s tramlines from sowing aren’t accurate, so the booms on the tractor don’t reach half way across to the next tramline each side, like they should.
Kaleb’s seed drill breaks. Jeremy discovers that getting hold of egg boxes during lockdown is not easy as most of the few factories making them are closed.
Jeremy decides to reopen the shop, which has been closed because of planning issues. He still has lots of potatoes in cold storage which he can sell. Shop sales become socially distanced though he only gets a few customers. While they wait for customers in the empty car park, Jeremy and Lisa play boules.
The older lambs are moved into the fields from the lambing shed, with their mums. Jeremy is worried crows with peck out their eyes if they’re on their own.
Jeremy helps Ellen move a triplet lamb to a ewe that has only given birth to a singleton, as a ewe can’t feed three lambs. The lamb is immersed in fluid from the “new” mum’s singleton birth so it smells like her baby, then everyone waits to see if the new mum feeds “her” second baby. It works!
Jeremy delivers free potatoes to villagers who may need them, and checks on Gerald who is isolating.
Someone / some people have set fire to hay bales on an old airfield on Jeremy’s land. Kaleb has to leave the crop spraying and put out the fire.
At the lambing shed, 120 lambs have now been born. One cute lamb goes round headbutting the other lambs.
A lamb is found abandoned in the field. A neighbouring sheep farmer tries to hand feed it, then Jeremy takes over, keeping the lamb in a little pen in front of the woodturner in his office. Despite regular feeds, the lamb dies overnight.
With restaurants shut, lamb values have halved in a short time to £52. Generally though the lambing season has gone well: 134 successful deliveries, out of 138 expected. And Jeremy, Lisa and his farm workers are enjoying their lockdown togetherness. It’s the happiest Jeremy has ever been.
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