Monday, 10 December 2012

The wanderer returns

It's tup time, so the wanderer would of course be a sheep - well? wouldn't it? After all, sheep are wandering with a mission at the moment, either ewes looking for a fella or the tup looking for a floosie. We are just getting into second time over on the hill tupping front and I would imagine all shepherds have their fingers crossed that there won't be too many ewes a wandering; looking for a fella to fulfill their desires. Now the boys ought to be wandering, desperate to find that elusive ewe who slipped the net first time over and desires the company of an amorous male. Time will tell just how the boys faired first time around.

You may have noticed Shep has been missing for a spell, I did make the return trip from Dalmally away back when (so long ago I can barely recollect) and since then there has been much to do and coupled with the fact there was no broadband connection for a fair duration this blog has found itself put on the back burner so to speak. Hopefully some normality may return, I once again have contact with the outside world which is a godsend as the weather has been somewhat arctic of late, making travelling and visiting a no go for those of us who are wusses on the roads, unless they are perfectly dry and the sun is shining!

Shep hasn't had time to partake in any winter sports, it's fair to say that a fear of 'getting hurt' would probably ensure I wouldn't wish to partake in any winter sports other than making a snowman, but regardless, there hasn't been time for such frivolities to date. I did manage a little bit of sledging however..........

Tup harnesses - awful things! A contraption worn by the tup (sire), strapped around his belly and shoulders to keep a coloured crayon in place on his brisket. Why? Well, when he jumps up onto a ewe he very kindly leaves a crayon mark behind to confirm he served her ( it is hoped that is what it confirms, in reality it only tells you he jumped up onto her back).

It is fair to say that over the years Shep has had little to do with tup harnesses, hill tups rarely get strapped up, it seems to be some form of in - bye bondage, the hill lads aren't into that fancy stuff!

It was necessary this tup time for Shep to strap a suffolk tup into his breeding attire, now that in itself was a challenge, working out where all the straps went around his huge bulk. He wasn't even a friendly beast, and had me dancing around the pen as some form of shepherd baiting took place, his head was definitely harder than my legs. It was a relief to get him backed into a corner and tied around the neck to a rail in the pens, my legs might get to see another day and not find themselves snapped like matchsticks.

Unfortunately, squashed up to the railings in the sheep pens meant only one side of him was free to work on at a time, so the battle ensued to get tup harness contraption untangled and re tangled around this heavyweight chap. There was much chuntering and head scratching went on I can assure you and after a fair duration I concluded that all lose ends were tied up and the crayon was in the correct place, right between his front legs sitting on his brisket - success!

It was a huge relief to release the chap to a field full of ewes and let him get on with the job in hand.

Two days later I noticed something was amiss, a ewe that had been 'served' seemed to have a crayon mark on her hip rather than on her rump and sure enough good old friendly suffolk tup was tracked down and it was noticed he was now wearing his crayon under his nearside lisk (okay, simple terms - left hand arm pit!). More head scratching ensued, from Shep, not the tup. How on earth did that happen? Pretty obvious really, my incompetence at dressing the beast had caught me out - humph!

I was going to have to get a hold of the fella and redress the situation. Memories of shepherd baiting flashed back in an instance, this fella really didn't appreciate the feminine touch the first time, he probably wasn't gonna walk up to me in the field and ask for assistance was he? The sheep pens were a fair old distance away, the roads were solid ice with a  covering of snow and any vehicles brave enough to face the treacherous conditions wouldn't be happy to find a shepherd and flock of sheep on the road would they?

Not to worry, I'm sure greed would get the better of the fella, a bag of cake would surely take his attention long enough for me to be able to get a hold and so I duly returned with a bag of cake (sheep feed). The ewes soon came forward and started guzzling the pile I laid on the snowy frosty ground, the tup? well of course, he held back, suspicious, memories of being tied up in the sheep pens fresh in his mind. - Humph!

More piles of sheep feed laid out, in a tight circle, more ewes guzzling............... eventually he couldn't help himself and did indeed come forward and joined in with the feeding frenzy, unfortunately every time I felt I was slowly closing in with bag in hand as a decoy he backed off, neither of us really wishing to get to close to one another.

I concluded I was going to have to spring into action, attempt my infamous rugby (sheep) tackle and hold on for grim death until he succumbed under my enormous weight - easy!

More little piles of cake were laid out in an increasingly smaller circle, yet more ewes guzzled and finally he dropped his head in amongst the melee, I pounced, fingers locked around the harness which was strapped around his chest and off we went. I tried desperately to throw all my weight upon him and wished instantly that I'd had enough common sense to have started this daring ambush on the level, not the steep as he careered down hill, his 100kg bulk gaining speed with every stride with me skidding along beside him on my belly, side, back,...... bouncing off every frozen bumpy bit hidden under the covering of snow that the field seemed to possess (why is it fields look flat and smooth?), it seemed every angular bit of my body was managing to clatter against something frozen and hard as I trailed along at increasing speed and totally out of control of the situation.

I dare say teeth were clenched, I know there were no swear words uttered, it took me all my time to get my breath, steely determination set in as we neared the roadside, fortunately the roads were very poor for driving upon so hopefully no one would be trundling by, but I could still feel my pride hurting. Time to take control, I managed to swing my legs past his and he cowped (fell) over, there was a huge feeling of relief, elation and success which quickly evaporated and was replaced with a deep feeling of despair as I found myself lying there and with the tup up on his feet and his heels kicking up dust (snow) as he disappeared into the distance, harness flapping around his lugs (ears). The strap had snapped, pulled out of my hands and left me quite literally downtrodden - so much for sledging!

Moral of the story? The lazy mans way isn't always the easiest........... he found himself gathered up, out onto the roads and down to the sheep pens, tied to the rails and sorted. He's never come forward for the cake bag since!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Tup sale madness - Dalmally tup sale 2013

For a number of years now Shep has had a wish to head to Dalmally tup sale, it's up there somewhere in Scotland, a long way away no doubt, not as far as Lairg it is fair to say but it always seems to crop up at a time when farmers are desperate for work to be done and Shep's ability of saying "no" is not a strong point, such a short word but one which doesn't fit into my vocabulary very easily.

Last year I was going, come hail or high water nothing would stop me, I was going - end of story! Until that is the 'phone call arrived, desperate farmer desperately seeking assistance and no where to fit him in other than the couple of days I had allowed myself to sneak off into Scotland, my resolve broke, I gave in and spent the time fighting with sheep instead of doing what I had hoped to be doing.

Now a friend took note of this and vowed she would ensure I got to attend this year. She succeeded. Even though I came up with excuses of pressures of work etc., none of it washed and dragged away I was. There is much to be said for friends. Life is too short, we need to live for today, don't put off for tomorrow. A difficult line to follow when you never wish to let people down who need your assistance but I guess sometimes we need to be selfish and do things we would like to do. Dalmally was one of those instances. I am very grateful to my friend for her persistence and for organising the B&B and for doing the driving, I am so pleased I got up there to the tup sale.

So why Dalmally?
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There were actually a specific run of tups I wished to see, off a farm called Dalchirla. I had heard much about these sheep, many by homebred sires, often known to fetch what I could only describe as ridiculous prices
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On the day this particular farm had 34 Shearling tups entered and 5 tup lambs. The shearlings were pretty much like peas in a pod, the handful here were later in the draw, it was too difficult to photograph the tups in the first few pens for the number of people looking at them.

There were some more than useful tups on show on the day from a number of farms, Shep was quietly impressed with what she was seeing that's for sure.

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The ring was a strange shape, it was actually an oblong, seating was limited also. On first getting a seat in the ring I found myself in a position where you could rarely see the sheep, they were entering the ring to my right and trying to exit in the same place, very few came into the centre of the ring to be viewed with the result that the next time I hunted for somewhere to sit I took up this position in the hope I may see more and not just hear the auctioneer.

As for the photographs? They all seem to have a strange hue about them. Once again I had forgotten my camera and commandeered my friends which for some reason took the photos with a pinky/purply cast to them - apologies!

Anyhow, back to the tup sale.

There were tups of all ages present for sale on the day, Shearlings, aged tups and tup lambs. The catalogue stated that tup lambs would be sold in number two ring, Shep struggled to find number two ring and finally wandered away down the pens until she could move no further for people. Number two ring had actually been converted from the penning areas, it wasn't a ring as I was accustomed to, but at least I found it. The next problem was finding somewhere to view the proceedings.

I got my eye on a photographer I know who was perched up behind the auctioneer, I gave him a tug on the trouser leg and asked if I could climb up beside him and balance on the pen rails just behind him, he raised his arms to take photographs and I snook shots from below his armpits, just as well he didn't suffer from B. O. !
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I had expected the shearlings might have been making 'silly' money, I actually hadn't realised until I got to Dalmally that Dalchirla sold lambs. It was the lambs which drew the attention of the buyers. Blimey! It was well worth seeing and hearing it has to be said.
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This chap realised £90,000 . He is a lamb, born this spring, approxiamtely 6 months old. His twin was next into the ring and made £60,000. That is £150,000 off one ewe.
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The auctioneer had no problems getting folks to bid, that's for sure! It was almost a disappointment when another lamb in the pen only made £24,000!

 It was for this that I had always wanted to head up to Dalmally, to see for myself, take in the buzz. There was a round of applause when the sale of the lamb concluded, a new lamb record for the centre, a price which matched the centre record for a shearling, which had also been sold off Dalchirla a few years previous. Probably a new record for a pair of twins reared off one ewe............ All very impressive. There is much to be said for a farmer to be able to sell 34 shearlings which averaged over £2,000 each and five lambs which averaged over £35,000 each. A farmer who is consistently at the top, think of Dalmally and you think of Dalchirla.
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Before we left the mart to head home I shot off to the lamb pen, only these three remained, the one standing is the chap who made the most.
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I'm pleased my friend ensured I got up to Dalmally, I take my hat off to a man who is consistently at the top of the tree but I can't help but question these silly prices. The lamb was bought by a consortium of farmers, they share the price between them, they are seeking to breed what they deem the perfect blackfaced sheep, they want the bloodlines and genetics of this particular specimen but what do the headlines tell the housewife on the street? Sheep trade has dropped quite dramatically this back end, fat and store lambs are well back on the trade of last year.

Those rearing sheep on a commercial basis are finding their incomes are less than last year, the weather has been down rightly atrocious this year and at a cost. A cost to the housewife and the farmer. Food will be dearer, both on the supermarket shelves and the feed sheds on the farms. How can the sheep sector justify the headlines in the press which boast record prices for tups? What does the normal person on the street think of it all? How can we expect any sympathy for the difficulties which face our livestock sectors, our sheep farmers who all so often seem to be battling against the odds?

These huge figures for breeding sheep go around in the same circles, those buying this lamb will hopefully see a return by selling sheep in the future at silly prices themselves, basically it gives a false impression of our sheep farming in general but unfortunately it is an impression which makes headlines, headlines which confuse the general public and leave them with little sympathy for the plight of farmers. 
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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tup sale mayhem.......

Shep has been attending many tup sales in the past few weeks, trailing the countryside, sometimes singly, other times in company. Lockerbie in the south of Scotland was the first port of call, twice in actual fact, both times to view cheviots but two different types of cheviot, the northie type and the southie type, 'tis the latter which I have a personal penchant for. From Lockerbie the next port of call was slightly higher up in Scotland to Lanark, blackfaces this time, then a couple of days later higher up into Scotland again to Dalmally, blackfaces once again before heading south to my home ground of Hexham and guess what? Yes! More blackface tups.

 There is a reason for titling this posting as I have, a marathon may have been a more apt description but as is Shep's want I did indeed as usual manage to cause some sort of mayhem - there's just nowt simple in life sometimes! It is fair to say that the two trips to Lockerbie passed by without too much of an adoo, but then I was travelling singularly and only had myself to please. It was the trip to Lanark which caused much commotion..........

 Arrangements had been made for me to pick up a friend at 5.30am at a lay by some twenty minutes from where I live, we were to travel for an hour before leaving my motor at 6.30am and jumping in with someone else. This arrangement necessitated Shep being up by 4.30am - nae bother!

 Umm...... Did I say nae bother?

 The day previous Shep found herself working into the dark of night, on leaving the job I had been at I then found myself having to make an unexpected detour to get home, with the result I arrived home, cold, tired dirty and the night was clocking on. But not to worry, a quick shower and off to bed was the order of the day. Umm......... I now have a new abode, one with a shower! A new abode which experienced many plumbing issues. Plumbing issues which at the time were being rectified as my landlord had the plumbers in rectifying.......... They hadn't however warned me I would have a night without hot water (this is generous as to this date luke warm water was more apt). You may recall I'd stated I arrived home rather late and was COLD, tired and dirty. The thought of a cold shower really didn't instill much enthusiasm into my soul! I would trot down to the farm and 'beg' a shower - they were out for the night (how dare they!) I trotted back home again. Boiled the kettle, filled the sink and commenced trying to remove sheep shit, only to find the water was disappearing at a rate of knots - yet another plumbing issue, plug too small for plug hole!

 I went to bed, hot water bottle freshly filled, peg on nose so I couldn't smell myself and all would be well. Alarm set for 4.30am, 'phone calls had been made for the final arrangements in the morning all I had to do was wake up.

 I did wake up! It's usually a good feeling, to know you're still alive, wasn't such a good feeling this particular morning tho' as I was awoken by my 'phone ringing down stairs, not by my alarm going off. The voice on the other end enquired whether I was alright, I had noticed the clock as I scurried down the stairs 10 to 6 it registered in my brain 10 to 6 ! Shit! I was meant to be picking someone up at 5.30........

 'Twas that someone who was on the 'phone, they told me the stars were bright and it was a lovely morning to be standing in a lay by for the last half hour.

 Mayhem ensued, Shep flinging clothes on, attempting to ring the next port of call where we were expected to arrive at by 6.30am........... OH!

There is no doubt about it I had a red face for the remainder of the day. All concerned were extremely kind and patient it has to be said, we did get to Lanark, we even got there before the sale started, we even managed a hurried breakfast on arrival in the canteen - an absolute godsend as Shep was desperate for that first coffee of the morning!

There was much leg pulling for the duration of our trip. Upon arrival two of us headed for the ladies the other to the gents and then met up in the canteen, the gent was then given a blow by blow account of how Shep had tried to have a bath in the hand basin in the ladies loos.......... y'know, there are friends and then there are friends! This was followed by the promise of a pair of braces for Christmas........... I may blush too much if I tell the full story but it has to do with knicker elastic! It doesn't pay to throw clothes on in a hurry, that's for sure!

There were many local faces which I bumped into whilst at Lanark and they all seemed to be aware that I had indeed slept in, probably because most of them had been asking my friend what she was doing loitering in a lay by in the dark hours of the morning.............

Not to worry, there was a great deal of laughter during the day, tups were succesfully purchased and transported home and a good day was had by all. Fortunately when travelling to Dalmally we went up the night previous, probably to ensure Shep didn't sleep in......!

Now Hexham tup sale sailed by without too much trouble, except......... I always have a dentist appointment on tup sale day, coz I know I'll be in town that day, it won't interfere with work, sensible idea I'd thought. Shep hadn't made a note of the time of the appointment and as it had been made on the back of the lambing that was a long time ago. Mid morning saw me ring the dentist and enquire as to what time I was expected later that afternoon. "last Monday at 4pm" was the reply I received "are you sure, it's always tup sale day" I said, the second Monday of the month - that's today!"  "It's the third Monday of the month today" "Oh! Is it? I'm very sorry......."

Now I know I'm heading to that age for suffering from 'senior moments' but can anyone explain why the tup sale which is always held on the second Monday in October decided to be on the third Monday or am I really losing my marbles?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Gannin's on.........

Blimey! We're up to the 13th October already........... What on earth do I do with my time?

Life has been hectic on the Shep front. Not all hard graft it is fair to say, this is being written upon my return from a 36 hour busmans holiday. A tup sale none the less, one which I wanted to attend last year and failed and one which a friend at the time vowed she would make sure I got to attend this year. My excuses of being too busy, couldn't fit it in didn't wash with her with the result being we set off yesterday - Friday 12th Oct and headed north, into Scotland and kept driving north until we reached an area close to Oban on the north west.

A night in a very comfortable B&B with a canny crack with a Canadian and German  couple over breakfast (neither of whom knew what a tup was or could comprehend why we would be so excited to be attending a tup sale) then saw us heading to the auction mart at Dalmally, a very interesting day ensued, some good sheep were viewed with us leaving at about 4pm, before the sale was finished, to head south again. Shep may have been on a skive but a necessity to set away to work tomorrow morning (Sunday) at 7.30am meant it was necessary to get home and get sorted.

On Thursday past Shep had headed north again, to a tup sale none the less. Lanark this time and once again to view blackfaced sheep. I had worked on the Wednesday though - honest! and the 14 days previous.

So, it is the sale season. Shep attended Lockerbie South Country Cheviot tup sale on the 1st October and enjoyed tagging along and passing comment on a number of sheep.  4th October was the Hexham Ewe Sale day, once again in attendance, although 'working' but enjoyable all the same, trade wasn't as strong as some would have liked but sheep got sold all the same. 11th Oct was Lanark tup sale and then Dalmally today. Tomorrow (Monday 15th) is Hexham tup sale - phew!

In between gadding about to sales there have been sheep to dress and sort, sheep to gather and keel and dose, the tailing season has also commenced, time to remove wool off tails in preparation for the tups going out - it would seem to be never ending!

There have been plumbers in at my new abode, I now have pleasantries such as hot water, a loo which flushes and bath taps that water comes out of - life is full of surprises!! Unfortunately it would seem that a plumbers remit does not include tidying up after themselves with the result there is much housework to attend to. (someday....)

Life is hectic on many fronts. There are photos from Dalmally and when time allows I'll get them posted, for the time being I'm heading for bed, time is ticking on, I have had an embarrassing 'sleeping in' episode this past week and don't need another. Sheep suffering from fluke infestation require my assistance tomorrow so bed it is for now, this is just a very quick update of the 'gannins on'.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Sale preperations

Shep has spent an hour today being nosey, out of my area and I tracked down a farm I had an interest in and managed to pluck up the courage to go and introduce myself, only to find the shepherd busying himself dressing draft ewes, it is fair to say the temptation to jump in the pen with him and give him a hand was pretty strong, but I resisted, after all, I was meant to be having a day off! At least I got a good look at the type of sheep off the place with a 'private' viewing of the draft ewes, the tups I was hoping to have a gander at seemed not to be on show and hints didn't work but then the man had a lot of work to get through and I know for myself there can be nowt worse than being held up.

It's that time of year, sheep sales are upon us big time and sheep need dressing and turning out to the best of our abilities in the hope they will look their best on the day and catch the buyers eyes.

The following are photos taken last year, a glance at dressing Blackfaced gimmers, unfortunately I didn't have the sense to do the before and after shots to show the difference once they had been tidied up, although it is fair to say a good sheep takes little dressing, it's the poorer end which need more attention to make them look better.
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Most sheep can be helped by tidying their bellies up, Blackies are of course heavier woolled sheep, carrying long wool and this gimmer had been clipped in June so her fleece had had plenty of chance to grow. Levelling a belly off helps give the sheep height and length.
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Wool tidied up around the neckline helps accentuate the face and in some cases give the sheep more neck. There are many different styles of dressing sheep, some even use the electric clippers on them, hand shears are still the most preferred method of dressing on hill sheep, little really needs to come off and as a hairdresser will probably tell you it is easier to snip with a pair of scissors than use electric clippers because once it is removed it can't be put back again. Dressing with hand shears takes patience and practice, care is needed not to leave shear marks in the wool, a well dressed sheep oughtn't to look like it has had the shears over it.
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Buckets? What has that got to do with dressing sheep? Well, we all like to look nice and clean when out in public and the same goes for the sheep. Okay! I don't suppose they really care but the truth is if you wash and rinse their faces it is amazing how much grime comes of the hair on their heads with the result being they look bright and shiny. Many sheep have already been bloom dipped as well, this is intended to put some colour into their fleeces but it can also dull the hair on the head and legs.
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As this photo shows, the legs on these gimmers did get a wash, enough to darken and brighten the black and whiteness of their colours, make them stand out more, be eye catching.
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Paint? Whatever next? It's tradition you see........... honest! Gimmers and ewe lambs as tradition goes get a red paint mark on the back of their necks, the draft ewes find they get a strip of paint painted around their horns. Now any old paint wont do, seriously! it has to be gloss paint, it also has to be red - honest! Some have tried using aerosol cans or keel on the back of the heads but this smudges and spreads, gloss paint is the answer.
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There she is, getting the wool on the back of her head painted, her face has already been washed, her crown is looking shiny white, her wool has an almost biscuity colour about it due to the fact she was bloom dipped and now she is getting her paint put on, just like a woman tarting herself up ready for a night out!
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Waiting patiently for the makeover, these gimmers are dressed, bellies levelled, legs washed, wool bloomed, they're just waiting for a quick facial followed by a bit of red and then off they'll go back to their field to relax ready for their big day
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when they go through the ring, catch the buyers eyes and hopefully make a lot of money for the farmer, before moving to pastures new

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Friday, 21 September 2012

Autumn Breeding Sales

'Tis the time of year when farmers have been busy spaening (weaning) their lambs and sorting through their breeding sheep. There are sales every week at the moment for breeding sheep of one type or another at the auction marts across our area.

The sales season can start quite early with the downland breeds being the first to come upon the market, hill breeding sales tend to be slightly later in the season. Friday 14th September was the KELSO tup fair, where almost every type of downland tup (ram) was on offer, by October we will be flat out with the hill tup sales, some farmers and shepherds travelling miles to view and buy sheep.

It isn't just the tups who are finding themselves being paraded around the sale ring, the females are also on the market. Ewe sales are commencing, specific sales where females of all ages will be going under the auctioneers gavel. From draft ewes (retiring off the hills) right down the scale to the younger end being the ewe lambs (spare female lambs).

Shep was at the ewe sale at Lockerbie recently, funny white faced critters they were - yup! Cheviots! but only a handful were present of the type I am accustomed to, the remainder of the sale was taken up with those bigger creatures, the north country variety. The Blackfaced ewe sales are advertised throughout the farming press, Shep nearly found herself at Castle Douglas rather than Lockerbie but navigational skills and sheep breed found Lockerbie easier to negotiate. The sales at Longtown and Hexham are yet to come, just a fortnight away though and many sheep to prepare for sale before then.

Sheep find themselves being dressed for sale, not in the sense we would imagine, they don't get wrapped up in frilly frocks or anything of that ilk, they just find themselves getting a tidy up, any raggy edges smoothed over, a cut and trim to help them look respectable. Dolled up a little bit, touch of bloom dip to brighten their fleeces, dab of paint where necessary and off they'll go to the mart. Hopefully the next posting will help explain some of this to you all.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Clipping................... dare I mention it?

I have been asking myself how many times I've finished the clipping season this year, it is fair to say my celebrations on the 16th August were indeed just somewhat premature. Friday 24th August saw me once again conclude the season may well be over, however, I kept the revelation to myself - not wishing to tempt providence y'know!

Sure enough, that gut feeling proved right again and another 'phone call saw a return to the clipping boards on the 2nd September, although I will be honest and admit to passing the buck, got someone else to do the clipping and Shep did the handling. I did clip one or two it is fair to say to give the guy a break as there were more sheep to clip than we had anticipated and really, Shep ought to have had her machine there to shorten the day, but hey ho, it got over.

There was a feeling of relief. Surely that has got to be the end, has it not? Aargh! There was another 'phone call......... Commitments to dip and spaen sheep meant I was unavailable for a day or two and phew! The sheep got themselves clipped with out my interference.

I feel that at long last I can safely say that the clipping season is over for 2012, I know I will still clip an odd one, those that missed the gathers will find hand shears taking their wool off, hopefully there will just be odd ones and no more. At least with the hand shears more wool will be left on their backs as unlike electric clipping where you follow the sheeps body, with hand shears you follow the rise. The rise is the depth of new wool growth. Hand shearing sees you clipping at the base of the old wool which ensures plenty of wool is left on the sheeps back at this time of year as they have a decent rise of new wool - a different and slower challenge than electric shearing, an art in itself and clipping odd ones is no great hardship.

I laughed to myself when the clipping came to a close, my final real days clipping was on Swaledale hoggs. Hoggs are last years lambs, they are the first sheep that are clipped in the season. It was the 2nd of June when I commenced clipping this season, on Swaledale hoggs, two and a half months and 2,800 sheep later I finished the season on Swaledale hoggs! Can't say that has ever happened before, but as the saying goes, "there's a first time for everything!"

Just shows what a topsy turvy season it has been!

On the subject of topsy turvy, I want to share with you the following photo. Not a good one as it was taken in the dark of night and with the help of some quick fix button on the computer it has enhanced the shot to enable us to get an idea of what exactly it is. I'm calling it a moonbow. Nowt terribly rare about such a thing as I have revelled in their amazing beauty before but it does seem topsy turvy to see rainbows in the dark of night
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Sunday, 9 September 2012

Falstone Show 18th August 2012

Okay! I accept I'm just a wee bit behind the times - 3 weeks to be exact (blimey! is that all? seems more like 3 months!) Anyhow, Falstone came and went and a good day was had by all.

The day dawned wet it has to be said, but then why ought it to have been any different to any other day? fortunately it soon passed (the wet stuff, not the day) with the result we were basking in sunshine outside the beer tent in the late afternoon.
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Sheep penned, rain drops hanging on the pen rails and hoods up, but not for too long.
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The north country cheviots soon mashed the 'show ring' up
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with the result that the swaledale cross sheep were judged out of the 'show ring' and shown between the pens, unfortunately the pen they had been standing in was a glaar (muddy mess) which shows by the clart on their fleeces
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The judging of the Hexham type blackface champion took place in a cleaner 'show ring', courtesy of the scotch blackies who hadn't messed it up too much, or mebbes it was just drier ground.
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The mule ewe lamb competitors weren't quite so lucky
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Those hardy souls who turned out without their wellies were in a fine mess!
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The sheep judging got through, Champion North Country Cheviot seen here with John Dixon of Chirdon.
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North of England Blackface champion went to Selby Robson of Yatesfield.
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Swaledale Cross Champion was this tup lamb from Mark Anderson of the Riding
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John Dixon again with the mule ewe lamb champion. The only photo missing is of Dave Baxter and the Scotch type blackfaced champion, unfortunately camera shake took over and the resulting fuzz is barely recognizable!
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Dog classes followed on from the sheep, collies, terriers, childrens pets and here one of the hound classes.
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The industrial tent was stuffed full of 'yummies' - yup! we all know shep likes chocolate and it has to be said I did think this cold sweet looked rather inviting.
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Tea cosies looking like sheep - what ever next?
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The poor summer conditions saw the vegetable entries being down in numbers but there were still some outstanding entries
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even the flowers had managed to hold their heads up high despite the poor weather conditions which they had battled through.

A summary? A cracking good day once again - well done to the committee and supporters for ensuring all went well. Further info will be available at