Saturday 12 November 2011

Carlisle Galloway Sale. 4th Nov 2011

Shep was on wander about once again. Carlisle Auction Mart run by Harrison and Hetherington over in Cumbria was the venue. A 'hot' date, organised months ago by a farmer I work for in Cumbria.

The said farmer was selling some of his Galloway heifers. I have worked for the gentleman ever since going self employed many years ago, I knew of him through his connection with Galloways and it is this which drew us together so to speak.

Having had a penchant for the black hairy beast ever since my first full time job upon leaving school I still find I have a huge soft spot for the creature. Once prolific on our hills she has seen a decline but is hanging on in there, there are still those who find her attributes the most suitable for their farming practices and there are twice yearly annual sales for the breed held at Carlisle and Castle Douglas, just as there were in my youth.
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The Galloway is a hardy beast, hairy with it. A beautiful animal with her anvil shaped head, proud ears and mossy browny black coat. She has a reputation of being wild but those that know them will tell you they are indeed no wilder than any other breed. Like the hill sheep they are to be treat with respect and their strong motherly instinct is probably what gives cause for some to imagine they are a wild creature to handle. Like hill sheep I believe them to be genuine and tough.
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It has to be said that this particular herd doesn't exactly survive out on hill ground and this is ultimately going to be the downfall for this particular mans life long passion. As age creeps on and son takes the helm different farming practices are coming to hand. Ground which will carry Limousin cross cattle will find itself doing just that and the humble Galloway will find herself history on this particular farm, as has happened on so many others in my working lifetime.

The said farmer requested my company at the sale at Carlisle. A consignment of about a dozen heifers to sell and he wished to share it with someone who like himself had a soft spot for the breed. There are still a handful of cattle on his farm which are nursing galloway calves and an even smaller handful in calf to the galloway and then that is it, from here onwards all of the galloway cows remaining in the herd will be crossed with the limousin. A lifetime of breeding come to an end. No wonder the guy wanted to share the day with someone who was sympathetic to the cause.
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An early arrival at the mart to assist with showing of cattle. The above photo shows the judges of the day perusing one of the classes, there were many classes both pedigree and none pedigree for those selling their cattle to be put forward for judging. I have to say I was disappointed in one class my farmer showed in, just shows how old fashioned my views are, he was beaten by a canadian type galloway. They appear bigger, leggier, blacker and in my mind not as pleasing to the eye - definitely uglier, lacking the sweetness of the traditional galloway which I have been so accustomed to over the years. Just as well everyone shares different views, in my mind his was the best forward for that particular class but then maybe I was biased, hoping that the elderly farmer could go out on a high, red tickets and silverware and why not? Blue and yellow tickets were the order of the day, at least he didn't go home empty handed!
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I did think the trade on the day wasn't too bad, especially as the reports filtering back from Castle Douglas hadn't been too promising but then I don't believe there were many forward for sale that day. Bulling heifers from Solmain (above) topped at £1,050 and would average about £800. The top price that I noted was £2,000 for heifers off Peela Hill.
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These heifers are off Hindhope, true hill cattle and ones whom the farmers son appreciates, hopefully a herd which won't be biting the dust in the near future.

I have to say on the day I was somewhat flabbergasted. I mentioned arriving early to assist with setting cattle out for the judging and that there were many classes forward for the judges to study. As with all show events there is usually one which is deemed the best of the best - the overall champion of the day and so it was at Carlisle. However, the event seemed to be overlooked when the beast entered the ring. Usually at marts I attend whatever animal has won the championship finds its owner being presented with silverware and a round of applause is given by those collected around the ringside. This appeared to be overlooked at Carlisle.

I really was flabbergasted. There were silver cups up on the rostrum not far from the auctioneer, I don't know whether they were all intended for the champion beast or whether some were designated for other prize winners, regardless, they were overlooked. The champion entered the ring and if it had not been for the farmer waving the champion rossette under the nose of the auctioneer I do believe the auctioneer would have sailed on regardless, some splutterings were offered, thanking judges etc and bidding commenced - end of story. Quite an anti climax I'm sure for the farmer who had taken the championship rossette. Not what I am accustomed to that is for sure.
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I have said Galloways are black hairy beasties but they can come in a variety of colours, Dun, Red and White and then there are the Belties (Belted Galloways). Traditionalists like myself prefer the black, there are those who harper for Duns and then there are those who specialise in Belties which I have to say do have an appeal although many traditionalists don't have much time for them.
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Maybe more ought to have time to appreciate the beltie as they were a strong trade. Sold at the end of the sale, many had left the ringside but those who were left bid. Collectors items maybes - who knows but I do know they were in demand. Red ones especially with one incalf heifer realising £5,000 admittedly the catalogue did read "a rare chance to buy a red heifer" she was a decent beast and someone took the opportunity of the rare chance to buy her.
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