Upland Sheep Farmer

Pity the upland farmer as he struggles to survive.
No crops to grow, no seeds to sow, no pasture land to thrive;
Just sheep to roam the barren rock and graze the rain-washed soil.
Rough gorse and heather support his flock in this fruitless toil.

Up with the dawn, late to bed, it’s a job for ruddy men,
Working hard to make some pay from the luckless lambing pen.
Few women choose to live this life – you’re married to the farm,
The only recompense for the country wife is its supposed charm.

There’s life support from government and EU grants to hold,
But no management could make this pay or turn this land to gold;
Instead the treeless landscape supports the rambling sheep –
The farmer grafts and struggles as he works this mountain heap.

The hills are bare and empty; the cover’s been removed.
The rivers have been straightened; the waterways been smoothed.
But the land’s no good for farming, however hard he tries.
So pity the upland farmer as he struggles to survive.

Down in the lowland valley, far from the hills up high,
The city-dwellers pass their urban lives and struggle to get by;
They know nothing of the farmers who work in weather foul –
Just country types with muddy boots with collie dogs that growl.

But the Good Lord lets it rain and rain – not forty days or more –
But a month’s rain in a single day will create more chaos than you saw.
It will wash the hillside clean – there are no trees to soak the flow;
And culverts have been widened to speed it to below.

No gorse to drink the water, or bush to hold it back –
The vegetation’s gone that could have slowed its track.
Plunging towards the city, the torrent rushes down,
Gathering speed and danger the deluge hits the town.

A rusty bike has blocked the drain beside the discount store,
So now the river flows where cars had gone before.
Homes flood and people flee but water waits for none –
The townsfolk stare and cry at what the downpour’s done.

Homeowners curse the flood for precious items lost.
Even government and insurers can’t meet that financial cost.
They call for extra barriers to stop the waters’ flood
And straighter culverts to take away the mud.

But the answer lies above, on the hilltop now stripped bare:
To plant new trees, and stop the sheep destroying what is there.
But that’s too radical a change, so ‘til governments contrive:
We’ll curse the upland farmers as we struggle to survive.