It is 20 years since I put pen to paper.. of fingers to the keyboard and wrote my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. I am delighted that it still gets the odd recent review, but I thought to celebrate the anniversary I would offer it FREE for the next few weeks.
As an indie author on Amazon I don’t get to do free giveaways, so I would ask you to email me on email@example.com and let me know if you would like a Mobi for Kindle or an Epub version of the book for other devices. I promise I won’t share your email with anyone else. You can find out more about the book and its most recent review at the end of the post.
The Sheep Farm – Indignant Rams and Black Sheep by Sally Cronin.
When my husband and I were first married, we had to stay in Wales for another six months, whilst he completed a research project in the mountains. We needed somewhere to live and being November and out of season, he managed to find us a flat to move into on the hillside above Dolgellau. The flat was part of an old farmhouse owned by a couple who I knew as regular dinner guests to the hotel, and it was a great arrangement.
After a few weeks of idleness and enjoying being a new wife, I decided that perhaps there might be a way to pay our rent and get some exercise. The rent we saved would be put towards a deposit of our own home; very high on our priority list. I approached my friend and landlady, asking if I might help out on their hill farm, where they kept a flock of several hundred sheep. She was more accustomed to seeing me in long dresses and heels, showing guests to their tables in the hotel, than walking up Cader Idris, but after she stopped laughing, she agreed to give me a trial run.
I went out and bought suitable clothing, which bearing in mind the time of year, involved waterproof boots and fleeced wet weather gear. It was early December and snow was not unexpected, and you did not want to be caught up at altitude inadequately dressed. I will admit that the first two or three days left me breathless, resulting in me giving up cigarettes (no bad thing). It also served to remind me how unfit I was. However, by the second week, I was hitting my stride.
We could take the Land Rover almost as far as the sheep who had moved down from the top grazing to avoid the worst of the weather. By this time, and with some snow on the ground, they needed some additional feed, and we would carry the bales of hay from the vehicle up to them, spreading it out on the frozen ground. It was time nearly time to bring the flock down for a very important event.
Not the sheep of my day.. but you get the idea..
The rams in the flock were fitted with a special device that marked the backs of the female sheep as they impregnated them, each with its own specific colour. This told you which sheep had been covered and was likely to be pregnant, and also if a ram was disinclined to breed and therefore needed replacing (mutton). But now it was time to separate the rams from the flock as their job was done. To do this the entire herd was brought down the mountain with the help of one sheepdog, to a large barn which was separated into two areas. A large one and then a smaller part that was fenced off where the rams would be penned away from the rest of the flock. They having done sterling service they would be taken to another part of the farm, to a field where they would have to amuse themselves for the next six months.
My boss said she would head back to the main farm to collect the two other sheepdogs so they could help separating the rams from the flock, which numbered a couple of hundred sheep. I was left to twiddle my thumbs, but being keen to help and save time, I spotted the rams as they jostled amongst the ewes, and decided that I might as well get started. I did have the benefit of watching some Australian sheep shearing documentaries and using a technique I had observed, I managed to manhandle the rams out of the flock using their horns and a helping hand up their backsides (I was wearing gloves). In about an hour, rather sweaty and not a little exhausted, I had the rams safely barricaded in their own bachelor quarters.
A little while later my boss arrived with two very eager sheepdogs that stood with their owner, completely bemused by the fact that they were now redundant. Apparently, this was not the traditional way to split the rams from the flock, but by the look on the faces of the watching ewes, they found the spectacle more than satisfying.
I discovered a great deal more about sheep during the winter months and their tough lives on the Welsh mountainsides. With the snow down even on the lower slopes where the sheep remained, it was difficult to find them against the white ground covering. This is where the black sheep of the flock comes in handy. Not only is she an older and wiser matriarch who knows where the best grazing is to be found, she is also a beacon to locate her flock who always stayed close to her.
In the spring came the life-affirming task of lambing, and it certainly is a miracle of nature. To protect the newborn lambs from crows and foxes, we would mark their foreheads with a smear of tar; hoping its offensive smell would deter predators. This odd job of mine created some lovely memories and I used my experience in one of my short stories in my first collection.
©Sally Cronin 1999
On Monday I swap wellington boots for stilettos as I take on the job of running a women’s fashion department in Liverpool.
About the book
At 50 Imogen had been married for over 20 years, and was living in a big house, with money to spare. Suddenly she is traded-in for a younger model, a Fast-Tracker.
Devastated, she hides away and indulges in binge eating. But then, when hope is almost gone, she meets a new friend and makes a journey to her past that helps her move on to her future.
One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads
Just An Odd Job Girl is an entrancing read. The spirited writing of Sally Cronin quickly captures readers and draws them to the utterly delightful character of Imogen. One challenge after another emerges, only to be surmounted by Imogen’s ingenuity and good luck.
I laughed through much of the book, shed a few tears, and otherwise enjoyed the literary ride. This is an inspirational novel, one that will warm your heart, resonate with past experiences, and bring you to the realization that all is possible, and all is purposeful.
At a time when chaos appears to rule our lives, this book shows us otherwise. I strongly recommend it
To get your FREE copy of Just An Odd Job Girl for Kindle or in Epub please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org – your email will not be shared and whilst a review would be most welcome it is not expected.
Thanks for dropping in and on onday I swap country life for the city back in Liverpool… and I hope you will join me then.. thanks Sally.