Yearly auction is like a sweetie shop

Writers Posted 11/10/21
As a sheep keeper I also enjoy attending Dolphin Fair.

Relationships are not good at the moment. There’s definitely tension in the air, which, when working together, isn’t easy. The day started in harmony when Brie the sheepdog made an impeccable job of penning the sheep. I set about worming, sorting sore feet and dagging any dirty behinds. Generally, Brie doesn’t trust me to manage without her vital assistance, so she watches like a hawk; when she perceives ‘help’ is needed she sails in, usually at just the wrong moment. The day was warm. I got the job done and packed up the handling system; I was tired and dreaming of a cup of tea. I jumped into Shrek (ATV) to hook on and head home. Turned the key… nothing. Is this a reoccurring theme?

It was then that I noticed the plastic guard covering the battery had been removed, and I remembered seeing Brie sniffing underneath Shrek. With hindsight, maybe she hadn’t been giving the sheep her usual attention. Sure enough, Brie had chewed through a vital lead, I made a call and husband duly arrived armed with a tow rope. I always find being towed particularly nerve-wracking, convinced that I’ll end up careering into the tow vehicle.

Thankfully our mechanic nephew fixed the problem, so we were up and running the next day ready for more action. Brie is trying hard to make amends. She caught and held a couple of lambs that needed attention, saving penning the flock. Relationships are improving, but obtaining a vermin proof container for Shrek to reside in is climbing the priority list. This should end Brie’s distractions, and my exasperation. I’m going to have a drink to celebrate, I liked the sign outside The Ash Tree pub reading “Beer shortage, please panic buy”.

You have to laugh or you’d cry. What a bonkers world we live in. I got held up by traffic queueing at petrol stations on my way to the ploughing match. Experiencing the reality of ‘fuel to forecourt supply problems’ and people panic was an eye opener. But if you need fuel for work, it must be an extra worry you could do without. Sadly, selfishness and greed is a worrying trend that is becoming hard to ignore. There’s far too much corruption going on and not enough action to stamp it out. Let’s face it, some of our leaders don’t exactly set a very good example. A re-evaluation of society’s core values wouldn’t go amiss.

Perhaps I’m being idealistic, but if instead of spreading doom and gloom the media could emphasise good news, how refreshing it would be. More programmes incorporating the ethos of The repair shop or celebrating achievements, overcoming adversity etc, I’d be happy with more One man and his dog, but sadly it’s only shown once a year on Towniefile.

At the ploughing match I loved watching the horses at work; such a wonderful sight. They are truly magnificent creatures. The smell of leather, horse and freshly turned soil somehow radiates a good, wholesome feeling. Accompanied by the sounds of a gently creaking harness, the ploughman commanding his horses, the stomping of their feet and the clank and swish of the plough as it cuts through the ground. The ploughman guiding the way with long reins and struggling to keep the plough in the ground. It looks like hard work when compared to sitting in the comfort of a modern tractor cab pulling levers.

Attending was ‘tractor utopia’ for my grandsons, who loved it. I appreciate that these events don’t just happen. There’s a lot of planning, work and commitment that goes on behind the scenes by people who deserve our thanks and recognition for the part they play in keeping country traditions going.

As I walked by one ploughman busily tinkering with his plough, I asked: “How’s the ploughing going?” I had to chuckle at the reply: “It’s all about the crop that comes after, that’s what matters. Come back and look at that and then you’ll have your answer”. That’s not quite what the board explaining what the judges were looking for said. But never a truer word spoken, although of course there are many factors affecting that outcome, which pretty much sums up farming.

As a sheep keeper I also enjoy attending Dolphin Fair, a yearly auction that takes place in September. Putting up all those pens must be a work of art; I imagine it could involve a little bit of colourful language at times. I know that guiding sheep in and out of the sale ring and pens in an orderly fashion has its challenging moments. For those coming to buy, it’s a little like arriving in a sweetie shop, with all colours, shapes and sizes of goodies on offer.

This year the vendors of shearlings, breeding ewes and ewe lambs were well rewarded for their efforts. In comparison the ram trade seemed patchy, perhaps to a certain extent reflecting quality, but there were some rams on offer that from the buyer’s aspect appeared to be value for money. We came home with three new boys; we will suspend judgement until we see what their offspring look like.

There’s been a hot debate about an advert for field workers to pick cabbage and broccoli getting paid £30 an hour, which equates to £240 per day or £62k a year. On further inspection, however it says “excellent piecework could earn up to £30 an hour”. Not surprisingly they received a record number of enquires. My eldest daughter, who works in the NHS, said she may have to consider a change of career.

The HGV driver delivering some stock nuts this week did some impressive manoeuvering of his lorry in our farmyard. When asked, he admitted his salary had taken a hike recently. I’m sure he deserves it. How can city law firms justify paying a starting salary of £107,000 to newly qualified 24 year-olds?

Jeremy Clarkson continues to write some amusing columns on farming, but I note that already he is hoping to turn his sheep shed into a restaurant. Is farming merely a new string to his media bow?


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