'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.
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