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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Dr Clive Dalton said...

Hi Shep - loved the piece about 'dressin' the sheep for the sale. As a Daft Laddie the job was to hold the sheep while the experts did the art work. My dear friend, the late Denys McCracken used to tell the story of when he was a Daft Laddie how he once 'cowped the bucket of keel (paint) while dressing yowe lambs. Can you imagine how he would get his lugs chowed when he'd ruined some lambs for the sale - for as you have shown so well, applying the paint is a precision job!

Keep up the good work

Tarset Shepherd said...

Hey Clive - I wouldn't have liked to have been in Denys' shoes - that's bordering on being a sackable offence! There's nowt like learning the hard way tho'!

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