The Year Round: New Year setback at the sheep market

Christmas and New Year has passed peacefully enough at Far Ings. Our New Year sales plans started badly, however, as we had sent 250 Swaledale Wether hoggs to the Lancashire coast.

The plan was to grade them, as they have done well. Unfortunately, the trade for these butchers' sheep dropped surprisingly by 5 a head and there were too many on which to consider that sort of loss.

The plan was to send a similar number of Swaledale gimmer hoggs to replace them. We are now stuck with these females, lambed in spring 2010, adding to our feed bills. But that's farming.

I went to a Tan Hill Show Committee meeting. This event is on the last Thursday in May, and has an excellent secretary to organise the event. All we had to do was to list judges.

At 1,732 feet Tan Hill is the highest pub in England and on a fine day you can see the Lakeland hills to the west and the industrial north east to the right. On a bad day there is little shelter other than the pub, if you can get in.

At the event's 50th anniversary in 2003, I won an engraved tankard, but no longer show there. The top rams are tending to become taller, but I prefer the old-fashioned sort for our harder hills. My wife is filling in the 50 pages Soil Protection Review. If we make a mistake we shall lose money.

Our children are brought up to do all jobs with livestock. The nine-year-old girl can calve heifers readily as she has small hands and the youngsters were riding borrowed ponies during the holidays. My wife leads them on her horse and all get tired enough in the fresh air to cause little trouble at bedtime.

CW 8/1/11