John Alpe farms in
partnership with his parents
at New Laund Farm at
Whitewell near Clitheroe in
Lancashire. Besides the
tenanted 80ha (200 acres)
at New Laund Farm, the
family own a neighbouring
farm of 36ha (90 acres), and
rent a further 40ha (100
acres). About 60 dairy cows
and 60 followers, 500
Swaledale and Mule ewes
and 250 store lambs are run
on the farms. Bacon pigs are
also fed on contract.
THE grazing at home has been helped considerably since we sent 300 ewes and hogs away for wintering in early November.
About the same time we released the Blue Faced Leicester rams with the horned ewes. Meanwhile at the Blackburn land Suffolk rams had been turned into the Mule ewes around mid-October. The Texel rams run with the gimmer hogs from mid-November.
We have purchased three replacement rams this year, two Blue Faced Leicesters and one Swaledale, and they appear to be performing well. Working rams seem to have been reasonably priced this year, which is more than can be said about working sheep dogs.
Our sheep dogs are starting to show their age, our best dog – Ben – is over 12-years old, and although still keen and works well, to be realistic, hard days for him are too much to expect. Bearing this in mind weve been on the look out for a semi-trained younger dog to assist him.
We have just bought Nap, a two-year old dog, and though hes very timid, he looks like hell be all right – only time will tell. I am aware it is a long time since we bought a dog, and Im sure to be out of touch with current prices, but I suggest we must have dealt with a descendent of the notorious Dick Turpin, famous for highway robbery! They say a good dog is worth as much as a good cow, but unfortunately this information does not appear to have reached the ears of the people who sell working sheep dogs!
Our 18-month old stirks, destined for the marsh land next year, were brought in on Nov 20, and will winter on hay.
Only six dry dairy cows are left to calve, due hopefully before Christmas, as I dont want any calving problems to spoil my Christmas lunch and presently the way things are going, it may well prove to be my luck! *
John Alpe was surprised at how much his new two-year old sheepdog Nap cost – particularly as the old adage is that a good dog is worth as much as a good cow.