It’s dat­ing game time for sheep

Sunday Mirror - - SAIRAKHAN -

Guy Fawkes night went with­out a bang as fire­works would ter­rify the an­i­mals.

The chil­dren weren’t both­ered as an open fire at home takes away the nov­elty of a bon­fire.

So we cel­e­brated by mak­ing tof­fee ap­ples, eat­ing parkin (a York­shire ginger cake) and watch­ing shooting stars in the night sky.

We have been count­ing sheep this week; sort­ing the yows into smaller flocks and do­ing match­mak­ing with the tups.

It isn’t all left to chance. We check the yows’ parent­age as some of our tups are old cam­paign­ers and could be their fa­thers.

We also look at each yow’s at­tributes and try to find a mate to im­prove on them and give us a bet­ter lamb.

We have a dozen pedi­gree Swaledale tups so there’s plenty of choice. The aim is to breed good ex­am­ples of the Swaledale breed: stocky, hardy and saleable.

A blue-faced Le­ices­ter tup is en­joy­ing 30 yows not good enough to put to the Swaledale tup to breed pedi­gree. They will have North of Eng­land mule lambs sought af­ter at the au­tumn sales.

We have mixed up the brightly coloured rud­dle – pow­dered paint stirred into oil – to daub this on tups chests so we can see they are per­form­ing as ev­i­dence of ac­tiv­ity is left on the yows rump.

The chil­dren like to come and help to rud­dle the tups, plenty of it gets splashed around – some on the tup but maybe more on the chil­dren.

RUDDLED The tups

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