It really did happen, the satellite guy came and installed the new dish as promised and we are up and running again, supposedly at a greater speed. We may need a new router before the fully glory of the new system can be realised. I believe this is our little slice of the new "National Broadband Network", coming to a farm near your bigger and better than ever before. (Well, we live in hope).
The Sydney Royal was an adventure, much like last year. All the exhibitors arrived at 10pm on the night of the 7th April, but had to wait till almost midnight before we could unload our stock. We didn't get back to our accommodation until 2am, and needed to head back to the show by 7am. As a result everyone looked a little worse for wear for the rest of the show. We did best with our older ewes and got a third and fourth in their class. I read in "The Land" newspaper today, that someone took 30 years to win Supreme Champion with their dairy cows. I just hope we live long enough to take that one home.
We are now pretty much back to normal. Watching the worm levels in the sheep, and keeping an eye on the joining ewes. Then the slow countdown to lambing. We are selling all of our crossbred flock, we will need the feed for our Stud during the winter and the reduced stock numbers will mean we will have plenty of feed available for the ewes in the spring.
The shearer has been and the final selection made for the show team. So now the full on task is teaching them to lead and stand without looking like it is the most horrible thing that has ever happended to them. We are also working on putting a little more condition on the lambs, they looked a bit thinner than we would have liked, when the wool came off. Hope we can manage it without causing all of them to have the runs. The Show Society tells us that this year they have had so many entries in the Meat sheep section that they are having trouble fitting them in the shed.
Our internet is still down and probably will be for another three weeks, I can't upload pictures on the dial up.
We are in the process of preparing our show team for the Sydney Royal, we learnt so much last year and had such a good time that we are keen to go again. The team has been chosen and we have begun feeding them, it is a delicate process as they have not had any supplements before. They are also taught to come to be fed, as well as carefully conditioned to the ration. It is easy to kill sheep if the grain ration is not introduced slowly, enabling the gut flora time to adjust to the new foodstuff.
When the rain stops, five of these cold, dirty, bedraggled lambs will hopefully clean up well enough to make the Show Team. The lack of a suitable shed was ok last year, as the weather was kinder. This year all of us trying to prepare for the Show here in the south, are finding it challenging.
We are currently unable to leave the farm as the road in both directions is impassable a causeway washed out one way and a metre deep of mud in the other. The local Shire Council does not think it will get here to repair the road before Monday. On the bright side it is a good opportunity to catch up on the paper work.
The big day is over and we were very pleased with how it all went. All the sheep sold and the turn out exceeded our expectations, we ran out of catalogues and food. The prices were a bit more conservative than we had hoped but not bad for a first effort.
To all our clients and friends who attended, many thanks for coming, the day would not have been the success it was without your input and support. If any of you have any handy hints on how to make it better we would love to hear.
Our big sale in Goulburn is tomorrow and the team has been working flat out to pick up panels, set them up, publicise the sale and get the sheep ready. As the security at the show grounds is poor, it will be a crack of dawn start to get the sheep penned and polished in time for inspections at 11am.
The speaker will be Tony Mulvihill, who will relate his experience with Alliance Marketing, Dorper Sheep meat, and feed lotting Dorpers. This should be very interesting as the end point of all our endeavors, is getting the meat on the plate.
Good news on the Brucellosis testing, the results came through yesterday and we have the all clear for another year (not that we expected anything else) but it is reassuring for ram buyers that the health status is good.
People often ask why we shear a shedding sheep, a valid question.
As we mentioned on our post on "shedding" the dorper sheep is primarily a meat sheep, and muscularity is of prime importance. If we concentrate too much on shedding we would produce a carcass more like some of the hair breeds and inferior to our 'competition" in the lamb industry. The muscling is best seen when the sheep is shorn, and if you learn to look, you can see the degree of shedding and the type of cover.
If you look at a dorpers conformation, notice the muscle above the elbow, a bulge here indicates good mucle through the whole animal. A nice flat topline and smooth shoulder are also important.
The big talk fest is over. We met lots of people interested in Dorpers and lots of Dorpers went to new homes. It is so nice to hear about the things that people are doing with their farms and lifestyle blocks and it would be good to think that every plan could succeed. A particular highlight for the group was winning "Best Livestock Display" very exciting.
Thanks for the photos Laura.
Field Day eve, everything is almost ready. The tents are up, the pens built and the sheep are settled in. An early start for the big talk feast. What could be better, hanging out with sheep friends, talking sheep with visitors to the site and catching up with customers from past years? A great way to spend the weekend.
The National Show and Sale were held in Dubbo, NSW last week, with lots of studs hoping to make their mark in the ring. The Judging this year, the Hi Low system, ( used in South Africa) was tried for the first time. It works on the average of three judges,( in the ring at the same time). Viewing the score cards showed us how subjective judging can be when assessing animals of high standard.
The sale when very well with Dorpers and White Dorpers both selling strongly. The top price paid was for a Dorper ram - $33,000 which is going to Brazil, and an Amarula Dorper ewe and lamb went for $6750- Nice sheep.
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).