Saturday, 11 September 2010

My Cheque Book and Me .....

Today I went shopping. The Kelso Ram Sale brings me joy. 14 sale rings, over 5,000 tups, 8 hours, 1 me and 1 cheque book. I was after a Texel, one as bare skinned as possible. For 12 months I’d regretted not bidding further for the barest tup in the sale in 2009. Its index was good and it regarded wool like a a “reet hard” Geordie would a warm top on a January night out in the Big Market. I stopped at £620 to stem the flow of blood rushing from my nose. But since then I have often thought of that tup and wish I’d done things differently.

As someone trying to breed wool shedding sheep. As someone that wants the best of both worlds - wool shedding AND conformation. The trait in some Texels that is expressed through very little wool growth and even wool loss is very alluring. Given that nothing is scientifically proven - by scientists who know science - on what the genetic process is that prompts wool shedding, I’ve often thought of spending an insane amount of money on a tup to do my own trial. Is this trait in Texels similar to that of the Wiltshire? When the two combine will it help wool shedding and increase conformation? More realistically will it just end in disappointment? As usual, I don't know.

My friend and mentor, Willie Shaw (more of whom another time) has been after bare skinned Texels for years. He felt buyers at the fat lamb sales loved texels and loved bare skins. The problem is he has been ahead of the trend and now, in 2010, everyone is after them. It seemed, in a lot of instances, the skin beat the shape in bidders’ preferences - its now an official fashion and that means an inflated price. I am looking for bare skins for a different reason.

I had two on my wish list. One that was actually shedding its wool, was a tremendous specimen but had no figures. The other was very bare but with a decent index and from a highly respected flock (I suppose that deep down a “name” always impresses me). When viewing the latter, I was immediately drawn to him (only sheep men will not find this a slightly unsettling expression). Sometimes you just know. I paid £1,000 for him, smashing my own record for daft investments at too high a price. Here he is .... don’t laugh or, even worse, take pity. The other one on the wish list went for £3,500 ... so it could have far been worse.

PS Totally irrelevant story time - going round the sale you meet interesting people, telling interesting stories and extolling their very own perceived wisdom. Today an old shepherd was telling the story of when a good friend of his was angry at a chap who he had done business with. The shepherd knew the man in question and defended him by saying, “He’s half honest”. His friend retorted back in a short, profound tone - “You’re either honest or you’re dishonest - there’s nothing in between”. Welcome to my world of Calvinist guilt.


julesandtim said...

Dear Sir,
I am compiling data with a view to more properly understand the relationship between a rams price, his index and the time elapsed between him arriving home from a sale and being observed feet up in the field---by my calculations this Texel super-tup should already be dead---can you confirm this please.
Grim Reaper

Michael Blanche said...

Dear Mr Reaper, He is still alive. Last seen drinking Pimms and watching X Factor in West Fife.