Seems when you have a farm that people offer you every animal they have that is surplus to requirements. We always seem to be a soft touch that can find the space for one more. The neighbours recently gave us two ducks that they said were a pair, typically for every donated animal they are not as advised, they are two drakes and the resident drake is not happy. At least the dogs are pleased.
We had a very interesting time at Bendigo, got to meet heaps of new Dorper people, had a steep learning curve about fitting sheep for show and won a couple of ribbons.
There were lots of beautifully prepared sheep at the show and the Dorper entries,(the feature breed) made an impressive display. The quality of the sheep and their presentation has improved enormously since the early years when we purchased our first ewes. It is a credit to the enthusiasm and dedication of the breeders.
We learnt a lot about show preparation and its challenges. Getting the feeding right being one of the biggest, and needs to be started almost three months before showing, the animal needs to carry more fat than normal paddock condition and then be maintained there. In the cold I think our sheep will also need to be rugged to get the maximun benefit from feeding, too much being lost keeping warm. Feeding for show also has a negative effect on the animals fertility, so we need to consider whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
Grooming is also an art form, taking a lot of time and patience, (Eileen has little of the first and Martin none of the latter).
Only 24 hours till we leave for Bendigo. Finally it looks like it might all come together. The farm sitters arrive this afternoon, (thank goodness for relatives prepared to put up with four puppies, a couple of poddy lambs and wood stoves). The sheep have been shorn and are leading after a fashion. When the wool came off the sheep were carrying a little less condition than we would have liked (a lesson for next time). We have only spot cleaned the sheep rather than bathing them (hopefully not a lesson for next time). The days have been so cold, we have been worried that shearing, washing then travelling would impact on their health, so we are hoping that we can buff them up on Thursday in Bendigo so they look beautiful for judging on Friday.
The pleasures of country life, dinner at the neighbours, simple food beautifully cooked. Creeping home, not for fear of the random breath test but watching out for the wild life. The walk from the car to the house across frosty frozen grass, the clear bright starred sky, then warm house and bed. How lucky are we!
Following our little taste of success at the Sydney Royal we thought it might be nice to go to the 2011 Australian Sheep and Wool Show at Bendigo. The Dorper is the feature breed this year and seemed like a good opportunity to increase our skills for training and preparing sheep for show.
Unfortunately, we are never as organised as we hope to be. The lead training is progressing slowly, the shearer doesn't come until tomorrow and the lights on the trailer are not working. And these are just the top of a long list that needs to be completed before we leave for Bendigo on Wednesday.
Huge frost, all the troughs are frozen and the truck won't start, sometimes it is hard to get the day going. It might all look better after another cup of tea.
Following nice cup of tea, the truck started and we were off. Then going up the big hill heading out of the village of Captains Flat (on the way to our new block, to meet the Stock Agent) the engine light came on and the truck stalled. It then took the kindness of Paul the Agent, 500 helpful hints from locals walking their dogs and the NRMA to get us going. Seems the problem was frozen diesel. The things that happen when it is minus 12 overnight.