A different sort of New Year
The farming calendar has a different sort of New Year to most. This is when we put the tups (rams) out with the ewes and the farming year starts all over again.
Buying new tups
Each year we need to buy one or two new tups. We went to a tup sale in Oban last month but only managed to buy 1. We needed 3!
On the 19th November, whatever the weather, the tups go out. Beforehand the ewes are split into different groups, according to breed and age.
We have several different breeds on the farm. There are the Blackface sheep on the hill. They are a tough and hardy hill breed, well suited to our climate and terrain. Unfortunately they are not necessarily a popular breed with the buyers at sale time. We have Cheviot ewes on the fields, with a sprinkling of Zwartble crosses thrown in.
The Cheviots are a large ewe, most commonly seen in fields around here, but many farmers and crofters have them living out on the hill too.
The Zwartbles are a Dutch breed and pure Zwartbles have very distinct features, with a triangle of white on their dark brown faces, white socks and a white tip to their tails. Ours are crosses so have the same dark brown face and fleece, but they don’t have the distinctive markings! They make excellent milky ewes and we like their characters.
Lastly, of course, we have the Herdwicks! They are from Cumbria and live on the fields near the house. They are renowned for being difficult to gather, so we don’t put them on the hill because of the cliffs. At the moment ours come willingly to the rustle of a bag!
Recently we have noticed a huge difference in price between the Blackface and Cheviot lambs. Finally last year we made the decision to put Cheviot cross Blackface ewes on the hill, in order to get bigger and more popular lambs for selling.
So for a different sort of New Year why not come and stay in November and meet our tups for yourselves! They are always painted bright colours so we can see where they are at a distance!