It’s dating game time for sheep
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