I am writing this with a broken heart, having just had to have my young dog Kip put down. She was only two and a promising young bitch with the kindest, sweetest, nature of any dog I have known.
Unfortunately it seems like she had long-term issues with her bladder and liver and, among other complications, it was the kindest option.
We had a very close call with a second dog, who was also recently rushed to the emergency vets having eaten something from a bonfire after burning some rubbish that had been dumped.
Mycotoxins in mouldy food are enough to give a healthy dog severe seizures and he was in a critical condition for a few days. That was only a couple of weeks ago.
After a very hefty vet bill and some amazing care, he is now back to normal, although bereft of his playmate.
My main bitch, Skye, has been with me, shearing around Wiltshire for a week or so, getting used to life away from home, but it was a trip cut short by the vet situation and a very rainy forecast.
I tried to bring some of the wet weather back to Kent but, apart from a couple of isolated showers, we are still incredibly dry here. The hay fields are worryingly thin, with no real body to the sward and, without much rain on the horizon, we are looking at a very poor crop this year.
It is good to have some ground in a legume-rich sward which will face the current drought, after so much rain through the winter, with resilience.
These extremes are the perfect storm for poor soil health due to root exudates being starved, so grass everywhere will be struggling to grow where soils are in need of improved management.
I have another week or two of shearing jobs here and some of my own sheep work, before heading away again to the West Country.
The World Sheep Shearing Records Society will be making a decision at the end of this month as to what form any record attempt can take here in the UK, without an international referee being able to be present to officiate.
There has been six months of planning until now, with less than six weeks until the proposed date. I am looking forward to a beer or two afterwards, although not so much the inevitable hangover after a fairly strict diet for quite some time.
On August 4, Marie will attempt to set the first ever women’s solo eight-hour strongwool ewe shearing world record at Trefranck Farm, St Clether, Cornwall. She is raising money for The Farming Community Network and Reverse Rett, which supports those hit with Rett syndrome. To donate, go to gofundme or visit her Kent Shepherd Facebook page.