I went to the world sheepdog trials at the weekend and helped out on the Rare Breed Survival Trust stand for the day. We were set up next to some rough fell ewes in a tent, thankfully. It was something of a mud bath, which I think has been a theme for this show season, there was a small stream flowing through the tent. I talked relatively knowledgably about various rare and native breeds to a fair few people before getting a chance to watch the action in the main field. It is pretty impressive to watch these highly skilled dogs and handlers doing their thing. I’m somewhat smitten and am almost convinced that I need to get a dog of my own to train. Or a dog to train me more likely.
I have been piercing ears. The lambs at Willowford are going up to Slack House farm up the road (where the Birdoswald cheese is made) and so they all need to have their tags put in before they go. It’s fairly quick and easy, a click and they are away, most not even flinching at it and the more efficiently I do it the better. By lamb 133 Liam and I are a well oiled tagging machine. Now to load them in the trailer and away up the road. We also collect the replacement ewes that are joining the flock and bring the tup’s down to Willlowford. The tups are an interesting crew, Bob is the Leicester, tall with a roman nose, he is very friendly but if you turn your back on him he will push you over. Magnus is a Gotland and a bit wild, not so keep on people and Raddle is the Suffolk, a big barrel on legs with the most wonderful floppy ears, no wonder his progeny remind me of Eeyore.
We are getting our new Suffolk tup at Wallace field. Unfortunately Skinny Jimmy has passed on and we need a replacement. Now as we all know, the problem with boys is they fight over who gets to be top dog (or top sheep in this case) so we put James and New Jimmy into the smallest pen we have to let them decide what’s what. The reason for this is that in the small pen they can’t get a good enough run up at each other to do any real damage, they like to head-butt you see. After a lot of noise and some fairly hard thumps it seems that James is the boss and New Jimmy is happy about this. It may all get fraught again when they are turned out with the Ewe’s. Then they will be fighting over the wives, as if 51 weren’t enough to go round.
There is an awful lot of mooing coming from the water meadow. If there is a lot of noise it usually means something is wrong and sure enough when I go to investigate Jacob has got himself into trouble. He has found a gap and has got between the fence and the hedge, he cant get in through the three strands of barbed wire that are there to stop him getting out. I shoo him in the right direction and he eventually finds the hole and is reunited with his mum for breakfast. Peace reigns again in the water meadows.
We are finishing the fence at Aglionby with the Halo group. It’s almost complete and we are all getting quite adept with the post knocker, maul (enormous comedy hammer) and monkey strainer. As a special treat today lunch arrives via Land Rover fresh from the oven, hot steak and kidney pie. This is wolfed down in record time, its hungry work knocking in posts!