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'.