Various tups have started going out to enjoy their favourite time of year and soon the fields will be full of ewes with brightly coloured woolly bottoms.
In our case, they will also be sporting a plethora of other dots, dashes and squiggles which to most looks like they’ve been to a paintball party but to Paul makes perfect sense.
The tup used, the moor they’re from, Stott Hall’s mark and sometimes a random squirt of colour for good measure.
Come December, all they’ll need is a garland of tinsel and they’ll be well and truly in the festive spirit!
The usual arguments between father and son have been heard in the sheds all weekend. John-William is a collector, a hoarder of sheep.
Despite his obvious elation at watching his ever-increasing bank balance, for the most part, he is reluctant to part with his sheep. Like his father, he knows exactly what he has and where it is and, of course, the majority are named and are all special to him.
His motley crew of pet lambs that never grow on to be much have still to be fed and looked after.
A few haven’t grown at all and are way too small to go to the tup, but any talk of them going, maybe selling some of his many, many tups which now almost outnumber his ewes, is met with outrage, followed by a firm no.
He has a multitude of breeds ranging from Woodlands to Texels, Dutch Spotted to Herdwicks, plus all the odds and sods and mismatches.
As a good friend of mine said to me recently, he is a young Charles Darwin, a veritable collector of the species of the ovine variety!
Thankfully, half-term holidays have arrived, just in time for a much needed break for John-William from the four walls of his classroom.
His mood instantly lifts and the slumped shoulders and bad moods are replaced with a skip in his step and a cheery outlook.
We’ve slowly been getting his pony, Bronze, back into work following treatment to his back and shoulders. He’d become quite unwilling, which is terribly out of character for Bronze, leading us to believe he was in pain. After a couple of months’ field time and treatment from a wonderful back lady, he seems to be on track again.
We headed south to a show last weekend, hoping for a positive return to competition. It’s never easy standing at the side of a ring, trying to nod encouragingly at your child whilst your stomach is churning, heart pounding.
My silent pleas to whoever must have worked as they sailed round the course, John-William with a beaming smile and Bronze definitely looking like his old self again.
We were the last to leave the showground, as one very happy little boy had spent quite some time rushing round the horseboxes showing everyone his rosettes. Two firsts and a second, that’ll do lad, that’ll do!