Nothing quite like rising early, when still dark and leaving home almost as early to arrive out-bye to find it's not only dark but also foggy! Told you, the fog always waits 'til Shep has to go out-bye!
An hour was spent supping coffee and having a crack, listening to the woes and complications of work/buying/ selling and the weather before heading for home, just as most were rolling over and thinking about rising on a Saturday morning.
What woes? Well, the pressure is on, these sheep need gathered for keeling, tailing, dosing, tagging and all manner of things. There's always tomorrow except time's getting on. Y'see the ewe hoggs (keeping ewe lambs) are coming off their mothers on the hill and heading away for winter keep.
They are to go nearer the coast onto better ground, safe from marauding tups and somewhere kinder to encourage them to grow. The wagon is booked for a few days time as the farm they are heading to wants them there at that specific time as the resulting six day standstill (unable to move stock off the farm for six days) fits in conveniently with the farmer for that particular week, doesn't disrupt any important sale dates. Time is ticking on...
There's a few days yet except there are two important tup sales to attend as tups are required, have to be bought, are definitely needed. Time is still ticking on.....
In the meantime it is realised that cattle have to be bought in, a new venture for this particular shepherd, one necessitated by his employers. Further complications arise, as, unlike the tups to be bought, which can go into the shed which is a vet approved isolation unit and therefore not disrupting any selling, the cattle will definitely put the farm on a standstill and there are still a number of store lambs to be sold.
The lambs could go this Friday, unfortunately that coincides with one of the afore mentioned tup sales which means an early rise and away to get to the sale in time and anyhow there is no time to sort and draw the lambs as the ewe hoggs are to attend to......
The following Friday is the first of the cattle sales, as there are few sales for this particular breed of cattle then absenteeism is not an option. Complications are arising and as the mathematics is done it is becoming apparent that these lambs may well be stuck on the place until mid November, by which time the grass will be in short supply and the lambs could well be going back over.
Once again the problems raise their ugly head. There is a way around this, someone else - Shep or who so ever it may be - will have to go, get the store lambs gathered, shed them and load the wagon, follow it to the mart and sell the sheep therefore enabling the shepherd to attend to the necessities of buying the stock he requires, or else those lambs will have to wait another month before going to market, an option the shepherd would prefer not to take as no one likes to see their stock depreciating.
It has just dawned on me that you're most likely wondering if it wouldn't be more convenient to sell the lambs on a Monday or Wednesday, would that not fit in better with the sales/work and weather? It may have done except the sale for store lambs is on a Friday, so Friday it has to be.
Pre 2001 this problem would never have arisen, however today, post 2001, buying and selling often revolves around a six day cycle. Mistakes have been made and it is easy to see how this happens but the consequences can be severe - a breach of rules and regulations is not taken lightly by those who enforce them.
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