Sheep get makeover for market
THE harvest of the hills is in full swing, the auction marts are awash with sheep.
Farmers from all over the country descend upon our two local market towns, Hawes and Kirkby Stephen, looking to buy the hardy sheep off the hill farms.
We have spent the week preening our sheep so they look their best in the ring.
Untidy hairs around their eyes are carefully plucked out with tweezers. The resulting neat look is a direct contrast to my own bushy brows.
The children help wash their faces with warm water, soap and a big sponge. Rinsing is a highly prized task. All the children want to be in charge of the hose.
The recently speaned (weaned) gimmer (female) lambs that we are keeping to replenish our flock have also been receiving attention. They need vaccinations before taking a winter holiday in the sunnier, warmer and grassier Eden Valley.
They will return to Ravenseat in April when, hopefully, the snow will have melted.
The stream of walkers and visitors to the farm has dwindled this week and from now on we concentrate on the sheep: it’s six months of dealing with tourists and six months of solitude dealing with the sheep.
It is over the coming six months that the sheep need their shepherd the most and, although I don’t wish to seem antisocial, I am thoroughly looking forward to it.
NEW EWE Sheep wash