It was also last year that we attended the Nidderdale show at Pateley Bridge and later the Masham sheep fair, where we met some more breeders, especially Sheila, who is fast becoming more than an acquaintance and I hope she won't mind me referring to her as a friend!... Sheila has been showing Dorset sheep for many years and has a fine collection of rosettes and cups.... and when we met earlier in the year, kindly agreed to allow me into her sheep shed when preparing her sheep for showing, and as she is attending one of her first shows of the season at the weekend, this was the week!
So yesterday I had an early start as all my usual jobs needed doing, including Lilly's breakfast.. and I was ready for the "off" by 8.30.... it takes about an hour and a half to drive down, through breathtaking countryside to Sheila's farm, and arrived in good time to have a cuppa and a catch up before getting down to the job in hand!
The first thing to do was some halter training, as one lamb is a complete novice and has never worn a halter before, so we bridled them up and started walking them round..... trouble was, I was a complete stranger, and "surprise surprise"... sheep do love their owners..... so the young lady who I was leading reared up like a little horse and wouldn't walk anywhere unless she could see her "mum"! ... eventually they settled down and we strolled round with a little pushing and shoving from behind for the trainee... she did exceptionally well actually, and soon got the hang of it!
Next was preparation... the sheep had already been washed so we stood the two together to compare one that was already clipped out with the other straight from the field....the trainee was then put in a head-stock, a device which holds a sheep steady, and also calms it down as it's quite comfortable, then Sheila started her careful carding and snipping and the painstaking job began.... I took reams of notes and drew lots of diagrams to help me remember each point, and was amazed at how little wool is removed... the finished result was a complete transformation...
Thank you so much for your time and your help Sheila, and for a delicious lunch too!! I'm so grateful.. and good luck with this year's shows, I'm no judge but I bet you'll be adding to your prize collection!!!
....And for my first attempt...... watch out Ellie-Mae!!!