We’ve spent too long giving our stock away and it’s high time they reached their true value - Jill Thorp

Last Tuesday marked the Autumnal Equinox, a slightly different date to what the meteorological calendar classes as the start of autumn, which is the beginning of September.

Jill Thorp

The shortening of daylight hours is quite noticeable now and despite the days being bathed in glorious sunshine, the change in weather is just around the corner. The concept that this year is fast approaching its end is still somewhat surreal.

The majority of spring and summer has been a blur, our lives filled with new rules and regulations, not to mention worry. The constant routine and demand of farming and looking after our livestock has kept us grounded, allowing us to maintain a handle on a frightening and confusing period.

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Whilst the country looks set to enter another lockdown of sorts, we keep focused on our sheep, the sales and tupping time. It keeps John-William’s concerns at bay and gives him something to look forward to.

Following on with his love of black sheep, he has recently announced his desire to buy some Zwartbles. It wasn’t met with a rush of enthusiasm from his father, but as he was quick to point out, he has quite a stash in his “sheep bank”! He has yet to persuade either of us to drive all the way up to Penrith to buy a coloured Blue Faced Leicester he’s come across.

The novelty of discovering that Blue Faced Leicester sheep can come with black faces and black wool has peaked his excitement. No doubt after several more weeks of nagging, we’ll relent. Or at least dad will!

It’s been great to see sheep prices have remained high this last week. We’d already made the decision to sell our lambs as stores and to let more shearlings go this time, so it’s a huge relief to see them making decent money.

I’ve heard a few grumblings, bordering on disbelief at these so-called ridiculous prices, usually from those just starting out and wanting to buy sheep. The reality is, we’ve spent too long giving our stock away and it’s high time they reached their true value.

Of course the good money has put a big smile on John-William’s face. His lambs fell just short of top price and headed off on a transporter for Wales. They were bought by a farmer from Ruthin who was on holiday and decided to check out the local livestock market.

I can imagine his wife’s dismay as he uttered the words “ooh look, there’s a livestock market on today, think I’ll just pop in and have a quick look!” It was good for us that he did as he certainly got them to where they should be. Our Whitefaced Woodland breed sale is this weekend and as is the norm for us, we’ve still to sort out our entries.

Numbers are slightly down on last year as restrictions have had to be put in place, so we could certainly do with some unexpected buyers turning up. I’ll then be heading to Hawes for my favourite sale, the Blue Faced Leicesters, to pick out a new tup, no doubt with a less than enthusiastic husband in tow!

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Thank you

James Mitchinson