Down Memory Lane, June 18 2021

The article appeared in the June 1992 edition of the Strathclyde Guardian.
The article appeared in the June 1992 edition of the Strathclyde Guardian.

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‘Gie’s back wir haunel’ – concluded

This week’s Down Memory Lane concludes an article written by now-retired police animal health inspector Gordon Caskie in June 1992.

Gordon, from Campbeltown, worked in Paisley when he penned the piece for police magazine the Strathclyde Guardian.

Over the last two weeks we heard how Gordon, a fellow police animal health inspector and a Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland (DOAFS) vet met with reluctance while helping Ayrshire farmer Alex comply with a compulsory sheep dipping programme.

As well as removing and hiding the antiquated, cast-iron pump handle required to operate the farm’s well and only water source, Alex closed gates and attempted to destroy the holding pens while the sheep were being gathered in.

‘If he didn’t behave, I was going to lock him up’

The sheep were soon secured in the small paddock and it was decided that police assistance was required to control Alex, who was wisely now strategically placed between us and the security of the farmhouse.

From that position of safety, he was volubly and eloquently again offering his opinion on the parentage of his unwelcome visitors.

The worst of the mud was scraped off the ministry man, who then drove off for assistance.

The local police sergeant had been on his way to the farm and on his arrival, Alex beat a hasty retreat into his ‘safe’ house.

After a brief official conference, the sergeant approached the sealed door of the farmhouse for a talk with Alex.

The door remained fast and locked with the sergeant talking through it.

After several minutes his patience seemed to be wearing thin and the ‘shepherds’ deemed it a good chance to carry on with the job in hand – hopefully without interruption.

The dipper was painfully emptied manually – bucket by bucket – of its 200 gallons and after many unsuccessful appeals to Alex through the sergeant for the handle, and after trying various replacement handles and experimental pieces of metal, causing blistered and cut hands and not a little swearing, the dipper was filled with 200 gallons of fresh water.

The sheep dip insecticide was added and all we needed was the sheep.

Alex and the sergeant must have reached some agreement as they had both returned during the above process and the sergeant proved to be a most useful extra hand whilst Alex continued to mutter in the background.

The Alex-inflicted damage to the catching pen was patched up, and all the gates set to drive in the sheep.

The ‘shepherds’ plus sergeant rounded up the sheep and it took a little while to discover why the sheep would not go in. Alex had closed all the gates.

The sheep thought this great sport and made off in all directions – well they couldn’t get in!

The ‘shepherds’ thought it not at all comical and the sergeant showed remarkable patience for a police officer by only threatening to arrest Alex, who then disappeared.

The gates were repositioned and this time the sheep were safely gathered and securely imprisoned in the catching pen.

After a short lunch break, dipping commenced.

As it did so there appeared an apparition in our midst. Alex had washed, shaved, combed his hair, put on his good sports jacket and flannels, and was extremely smart and presentable.

We could not help but enquire of the sergeant if he would explain the reason for this change in Alex.

‘Well,’ said the sergeant, ‘I told him that if he didn’t behave, I was going to lock him up. I can only assume that he’s preparing for that event.’

Further intervention by Alex prompted the sergeant to carry out his threat and Alex was removed to the local ‘nick’.

Dipping was almost complete when the sergeant returned, still accompanied by Alex.

When pressed, the sergeant explained he’d left the keys for his local office in his coat lying beside the dipper and was unable to gain access to his own ‘nick’.

Alex appeared a trifle disappointed at not being locked up but we were pleased to again have the assistance of the big strong sergeant to dip the last woolly monsters.

Alex was not charged, but was later persuaded by the animal health inspector to sell off all his sheep.

This was done and fortunately robbed us of another fun-filled (?) day out at the dipping of old Alex’s sheep.