Well, that’s a wrap for 2023, what a show season my sheep have had!
You often hear spoken ‘once in a lifetime’ or ‘all my ducks in a row’, well that’s definitely happened to me this year!
This year my sheep have won 11 top two placing from 7 shows.
Taking 6 Overall Championships, 5 Reserve Overall championships and best white Shetland wool on hoof at GYS.
I’ve been involved with Shetland sheep since 1987, showing sheep since I was 24, and now I’m 60! I have never had a year like this one.
I couldn’t have wished for a better show season. I’m so proud of my show team this year, especially my champion sheep Milo, Ollie, Orestes, Hazel and Rose, all homebred except one.
I’ve had so much enjoyment from my sheep this year. Seeing most of them being born last year, watching them grow and develop, handling and training them, and then seeing them reward me by becoming a champion in the show ring is a great feeling.
I think it helps to breed good stock when you use the best animals you can get. Having used my homebred SSS breed standard rams and also a couple of quality rams from friends over my stock has greatly paid off.
All my show team have been so well behaved, especially my boys who have been out at all 7 shows (they are strong boys and if they don’t want to do something, I am certainly not strong enough to control them and force them to do anything they don’t want to do) they have been more chilled out than me!
They are so calm with me and tolerate me fiddling about with their heads putting on show halters, putting on sheep coats to stop the hay seeds getting too deep into their fleece, and traveling to shows in the trailer. I stop several times during the journey to check them and have a ‘wee chat’ to make sure they are all ok. Speaking to them and hearing them bleating back at me always makes me smile. (Strangers must think I’m a bit strange talking to sheep, and they might be right, especially when the sheep bleat back!).
When attending shows I always try to make sure my sheep are as chilled out as possible. I make sure they don’t show any signs of stress, and if they do, they don’t go, I give them some time out instead.
They are not ‘pets’ like dogs and cats, but they all have their own personality. They recognise me, some have little quirky ways. Some have ‘chums’ who they miss when apart at shows, so I often take their friends along with them for company and comfort.
When I’m at a show I usually take them out the pen at some point during the day to walk around to stretch their legs, and they can sometimes sludge along. But as soon as I head towards the show ring for their show class competition they change. I’m sure they know the difference between ‘just having a walk’ and ‘it’s show time!’. They instantly perk up, correct their posture and it’s like they think ‘here we go!’.
My tups and ewes have showed themselves so well for me this year, they are the winner. And what a year they have given me!
Now for a good rest over the next few weeks, then it’s on to selecting rams and ewes for breeding season for 2023/24.