Attention! Sheep Dogs at Work!

farming, North Yorkshire

I promised you an account of a Sheep Dog Demonstration after our visit to Masham Sheep Fair. Maybe you’ve amused yourselves wondering which sheep would get hustled and herded into pens as each dog did her work. Big and super-woolly? Lean and super-curly? Well, neither …

The field behind the church was roped in such a way that we spectators gathered round the edges, so we could look at the arena, scattered with wooden gates and obstacles, traffic cones, a play-tunnel, and in the far corner, a sheep pen. We spotted two sheep dogs, panting eagerly beside their trailer.

Their trainer, a farmer from Cumbria, took centre stage and introduced her dogs, each of whom would perform in turn. But where were the sheep? Not here at all it turned out. The dogs would be herding … first geese …

… who went between gates, round obstacles, round again…and into the pen …

… then ducks ..

… round obstacles, over the bridge and wheee! Down the chute and into a paddling pool (I missed the photo opportunity there), in and out the traffic cones and into the pen …

.. and finally, ducklings …

The ducklings await their moment on stage.

Through the gates, round the field. Then … can you see the ducklings scuttling down the play tunnel? The sheepdog’s about to follow them. Then, no pen for them. Just back into that big grey hutch.

I love to watch sheep dogs at work. They are so eager to get the job done, and done well. And on the whole, the creatures they chivvy seem happy enough. They put up with it anyway. A happy half hour.

Monday portraits from Masham

farming, Festivals, North Yorkshire

Yesterday, we went to Masham. Here were gathered sheep: dozens of sheep; hundreds of sheep, from every corner of North Yorkshire and beyond. They were all to be put through their paces and judged on whatever esoteric characteristics sheep are judged on, hoping to be awarded rosettes – even cups – as evidence of their good breeding and upbringing. We went early, and talked to owners, many of whom were keen to save rarer breeds from dying out: dying out because their meat is too slow-growing, maybe too flavourful for the mass market. And, as we discover round here every year at shearing time, the wool they provide is no longer a passport to wealth, or at any rate a steady income, but quite simply a drain on the farmer’s budget as there are shearers to be paid. With some exceptions, only traditional spinners, weavers and knitters seek out traditional wool.

Now then, hands up if you thought a sheep was just a sheep.

Or that wool was – quite simply – wool.

Here’s judging taking place ..

And they start ’em young here. There were classes for Young Handlers, and even an Under Fives category …

Wool, anybody?

We had to go to the Sheep Dog Demonstration, of course. But that’s worth a post all on its own. To be continued …

Revisiting A Sheep is a Sheep is a Sheep

Blogging challenges, Festivals, Heritage, North Yorkshire

Somehow, we forgot all about Masham Sheep Fair last weekend. We forgot about the dozens of different breeds of sheep on show; the sheep-shearing demonstrations; the sheep dog competitions; the children, some really quite young, demonstrating their knowledge and prowess as sheep-handlers. There’s no help for it. We’ll have to revisit this post from October 2014 instead. And by the way. Please don’t show yourself up. Pronounce Masham correctly. Mas-ham. Anyone who lets the side down and calls it Mash’em is immediately recognised as an outsider.

And let’s include this blast-from-the-past in Becky’s Past Squares, as well as including it in Fandango’s Flashback Friday, a celebration of past posts which deserve another outing.

A SHEEP IS A SHEEP IS A SHEEP …

… or not.

On Saturday we called in, far too briefly, at the annual Masham Sheep Fair. This is the place to go if you believe a sheep looks just like this.

Saturday was the day a whole lot of sheep judging was going on in the market square.  Here are a few of the not-at-all identical candidates. And yet they are only a few of the many breeds in England, and in the world. There are 32 distinct breeds commonly seen in different parts of the UK, and many more half-breeds.  I was going to identify the ones I’m showing you, but have decided that with one or two exceptions (I know a Swaledale, a Blue-faced Leicester or a Jacobs when I see one), I’d get them wrong. So this is simply a Beauty Pageant for Masham and District sheep.

And if you thought wool was just wool, these pictures may be even more surprising.  Who knew that sheep are not simply…. just sheep?

Upbeat stripes and checks

Blogging challenges

Let’s have a bit of fun with stripes. Trawling through my archives, I’ve turned up images of wandering stripes at art galleries, at a road junction and at, of all things, a sheep fair.

That featured image at the top of the post shows the shadows of legs wandering round the Masham Sheep Fair.

Now let’s check up on checks. Just the one image this time, from the Museo Fallero in Valencia: a couple of figures from the annual Fallas Festival parades in the city. Those two look quite upset.

Lens-Artists Challenge #132: Striped and checked

Square Up

If after all these Squares you’re hungry for some fresh air, why not go with Frank for a Beach Walk? He’ll take you along with him twice a week, reflecting on what he sees and experiences: sand, shells, surf – it’s all there. Today it’s Storms, and I managed to find some stormy photos for him which he’s included. His thoughts are refreshing and wide-ranging: just the thing on a January morning.

Who’d be a sheep dog?

North Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales

A fortnight ago, I showed you something of the sheepdog trials at Wensleydale Show.  It reminded me of Masham Sheep Fair, three years ago.  Sheepdogs were demonstrating their skills there too – of course they were.  But not with sheep.  The creatures they were herding were – geese….

Geese being kept in order by a skillful sheep dog. What a come down.

And here is the post I wrote four years ago about Masham’s annual sheep show:

A sheep is a sheep is a sheep…..

… or not.

The splendid horns of a Swaledale sheep.

The splendid horns of a Swaledale sheep.

On Saturday we called in, far too briefly, at the annual Masham Sheep Fair. This is the place to go if you believe a sheep looks just like this.

549---Sheep

Saturday was the day a whole lot of sheep judging was going on in the market square.  Here are a few of the not-at-all identical candidates. And yet they are only a few of the many breeds in England, and in the world. There are 32 distinct breeds commonly seen in different parts of the UK, and many more half-breeds.  I was going to identify the ones I’m showing you, but have decided that with one or two exceptions (I know a Swaledale, a Blue-faced Leicester or a Jacobs when I see one), I’d get them wrong. So this is simply a Beauty Pageant for Masham and District sheep.

And if you thought wool was just wool, these pictures may be even more surprising.  Who knew that sheep are not simply…. just sheep?

 

Judgment day at Masham Sheep Fair

Judgment day at Masham Sheep Fair

A sheep is a sheep is a sheep…..

England, Festivals, Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales

… or not.

The splendid horns of a Swaledale sheep.

The splendid horns of a Swaledale sheep.

On Saturday we called in, far too briefly, at the annual Masham Sheep Fair. This is the place to go if you believe a sheep looks just like this.

549---Sheep

Saturday was the day a whole lot of sheep judging was going on in the market square.  Here are a few of the not-at-all identical candidates. And yet they are only a few of the many breeds in England, and in the world. There are 32 distinct breeds commonly seen in different parts of the UK, and many more half-breeds.  I was going to identify the ones I’m showing you, but have decided that with one or two exceptions (I know a Swaledale, a Blue-faced Leicester or a Jacobs when I see one), I’d get them wrong. So this is simply a Beauty Pageant for Masham and District sheep.

And if you thought wool was just wool, these pictures may be even more surprising.  Who knew that sheep are not simply…. just sheep?

 

Judgment day at Masham Sheep Fair

Judgment day at Masham Sheep Fair