Monday 4 October 2010

Lairg or Lockerbie?

Why the question?

Well, do I go to Lairg or Lockerbie? that was the question. Both towns are in Scotland. The first high up in Scotland, a good few hours drive from home. The second just over the border into Scotland and unfortunately a town name recognised for it's link with terrorism, due to a plane being blown up and brought down over the town many years back.

However, Lockerbie is also the home to the South Country Cheviot tup sale, whereas Lairg is the home of the Lairg type North Country Cheviot tup sale. You may recall Shep headed up to Lairg last year
Shep was looking forward to heading back to Lairg again this year, a pleasant break for a few days would be just what the doctor ordered, unfortunately it was not to be. For what ever reason the two sale dates were back to back this year and being a few hundred miles apart the effort of getting to both was going to be anything other than relaxing.

Lockerbie won. A desire to travel with a neighbour to attempt to buy a tup was the order of the day. After all, Shep does have a fetish for South Country Cheviots!
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It took us two hours to get there, but then we did take the scenic route.... (not my navigational skills this time, I blame the driver!!) The scenic route did however give us the opportunity to see a couple of black grouse which was quite a treat as they are becoming few and far between in our area.

We managed to arrive before the sale had begun enabling us to have a quick look in the first few pens to see if there was anything there to whet our appetites before beginning to look in earnest.

The Southies have two breed types, known as the East borders and the West borders type. We were looking for the East borders type, unfortunately they appeared to be in short supply. Basically the main difference is horns. East borders are polled, West borders are horned. (there are other slight variations but we'll stick to the basics)

It is strange when used to Blackfaced and Swaledale breeds where the tups (rams) carry strong, heavy horns and the females carry finer horns these Cheviot rams carry horns but the females don't/won't. However, Shep still has a fetish for a polled Cheviot tup and for all there were a few on hand they were either unsuitable or beyond the price range. It eventually dawned that if a tup were to be acquired it would probably have to carry horns. And so it did.
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The two photos are of the Champion off Catslackburn going under the hammer, if my memory serves me right it realised £9,000 although the top price of the day was £12,000, two sheep shared the top trade, one off The Becks the other off Upper Hindhope. The sheep my neighbour bought was well down the scale at a sensible price to cross onto Blackfaced ewes. It had a good tight skin, which ought to cross well onto the heavier skinned blackies, good carcase and a bright Cheviot eye in it's head, a harmless sheep for little money even if he did have horns.

Shep realises now she should have taken more than two photos, they don't really help you to see the different types of Southie on offer, however, it was a busy day and time for waffling around with the camera wasn't on hand. A good day though, good crack,a chance to catch up with faces from the Scotch side with many a laugh and success when a tup came home with us.

I'll leave you to gaze at this shot of southie ewes to whet your appetites.....

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There are more tup sales to attend, Hexham blackies on 11th, St John's Chapel's Swaledales on the 12th and hopefully Lanark blackies on the 14th - more days off to look forward to!


Unknown said...

Great blog ! I`ve just bought a few Southie ewe lambs and trying to find out all I can about the breed , all Blackies round here .
Hope you can go into more detail about the diff. between East and West type sometime !

Tarset Shepherd said...

Thanks for the compliment!

Some day I'll cover Cheviots (when time allows), although I have to admit I am still learning myself. Must say tho' that through my short experience they are some of the truest sheep I have ever dealt with. Fiesty, independent characters with a tremendous kindness to them. Also the old tales of hanging are false, they hang lambs less than the scotchies do.

Good luck with your ewe lambs, hope they do well for you.

Do I take it you are up in Scotland somewhere?

Unknown said...

I`m in Scotland but probably down from you ! , between stranraer and newton stewart . I bought the ewe lambs at longtown off the place that sold the champ tup in your pics above .
Fiesty sums them up very well but I like the look of them and pleased to hear you think highly of them as a breed .
Now got a yr to decide what to tup them with , maybe a hill-type Northie or a Southie to keep them pure or even a Lleyn or Texel?

Tarset Shepherd said...

Think you could be up from me - I'm in Northumberland!! Anyhow, pleased you've realised they are fiesty, but a dour sheep is no good, they've got to have a bit of temper to get them through....

A year will give you time to consider the breeding. Being soft on them I'd go for the pure thing, especially when they're having their first lambs.
A lot will depend on your ground and what returns you're after I guess.
You didn't mention the bluefaced leicester? Haven't had anything to do with Cheviot mules but the crack is good about them and they seem to sell well at the breeding sales.

Anyhow, good luck in your new venture with these little characters.