Please excuse the brevity, typos and bad grammar in this post. I'm just taking ten minutes for a cup of coffee before heading off with a trailer full of sheep to the Royal Show. Unlike, I suspect, many others who will be arriving there in the next few hours, I know I will be heading for relative calm and pens in the sheep lines for me and the other competitors in my breed.
As everyone has no doubt heard, the Royal put out a press release last Wednesday saying that as the showground was destined to remain in the Surveillance Zone, cattle and sheep would only be admitted from that zone or from the PZ if fully vaccinated and certified. With a week to go before most people would be arriving, you would expect that the phones in the Livestock Office would have been red hot with staff contacting entrants from the PZ to see whether they would be going or not, but actually this isn't the Royal way!
My phone started ringing yesterday afternoon. A competitor in our breed had arrived to find that there was penning for only four people in the breed. He and I both knew for certain that there was at least another who we had both spoken to a couple of days before. He tackled the penning contractors who showed him their paperwork. Everyone outside the SZ had been crossed off.
Mrs J arrived then on her way home from work to sheet our pens, followed by our breed society secretary. A few phone calls determined definitely that seven competitors would be there, not the four listed. The penning contractors were persuaded to push the Blue Faced Leicesters into the adjacent building and give us the pens we needed. During this time a Black Welsh Mountain breeder arrived, to find not only no pens for him, but none for any others in the breed he knew were already on their way. He is assuming that their classes have been cancelled and they will be in any other breed - but no-one had contacted him to let him know.
Whilst this is going on, another breed owner popped up to say that his breed society had offered to put someone in the Livestock office to phone everyone who had entered and create a list of who would actually be attending. This sensible offer was turned down.
If the Royal has assumed that all competitors from outside the SZ are not coming, they will have absolute chaos today as the bulk of competitors arrive.
Presumably this is the basis on which they have decided that there will be so few livestock there, that all sheep and cattle can be accommodated in the sheep building - leaving the cattle sheds completely empty!
Many of you will be aware that, since last year, the sheep building and the parking area behind it have been turned into a livestock market. Despite advice from their penning and cleansing contractors that it would be suicide to hold a market on Monday, and expect to have the place cleansed and penned ready for show sheep to arrive from Tuesday morning, the Royal chose to ignore this. The contractors were on site until 3.30 on Tuesday morning cleaning down after the market. They started work again at 7.00 on Tuesday. They are in no mood to be faced with hordes of pen-less exhibitors.
Oh yes, just one more thing, the traditional red dust floors of the sheep building are a thing of the past. Lovely new concrete is now laid. Just one thing though, livestock markets don't feature lots of taps for bucket filling which were none too plentiful in the old building. Now there are none - the only source of water for livestock is the fire hoses!