The Melplash Show was fantastic! We woke early to dreary weather, but the forecast was more optimistic for the day, clearing with some sunny spells but a possibility of afternoon showers. We hadn’t had sun for a week. Loading went well, with Archie and Richard getting the bull on the trailer very smoothly. He had been coaxed into one of the shed pens the night before, with the two shearling rams in the pen next to him. We were taking eight sheep, and have now recognised we need a bigger sheep trailer. We squashed the 2 ewes and 4 lambs in the front, then put up the divider and popped the rams in. Not too comfortable. The trailer is perfect for around the farm as it is light enough to hook onto the ranger. But a larger one will be needed if I continue to do these shows.
The show ground is close by, a twenty minute drive, but queues were already forming at 7 am. The reason became obvious once inside; all the rain made for muddy roadways inside inside the show ground and big horse lorries needed a tow. Tractors were ready and waiting. We got sheep in the pens, sun began to appear and I raced over to see the bull already settled in under his beautiful blue gazebo! Amazon to the rescue as I had the gazebo ordered two days before in anticipation of pouring rain.
We had shampooed Frazzle the day before, fluffed him up as best we could. I even bought a livestock hair dryer especially for the task, although Richard assisted with a leaf blower. So the gazebo would protect his lovely locks from the rain. Robert, his wife Sandra, and Jane, who had all co-owned Frazzle, were already under the gazebo, giving him the last minute attention, a bit like an actress on Oscar Night! Walking down the aisle of cattle was like walking into the perfume department of Harrod’s!
Minty had spent the night with us and she and I prepared the sheep, fetched water, etc. Portland Sheep are shown ’in their working clothes’ so no primping and combing allowed. The competition began with the Ram class, Dan and I showed the boys, Bongo and Beaver, and received a First and Third! Off to a good start. Minty took over and in the Ram Lamb class, her boy Chicory also placed First! We proceeded to get two more Seconds and another Third, six in total.
Meanwhile, the Bull class in which Frazzle showed went ahead without me, as the timing conflicted. He was a good 3 and a half years older than his competitors and also tried to kick the judge, so no prizes there. But he was the first Highland shown at Melplash and was certainly one of the most popular!
Finally, later in the afternoon, we went to receive the Cup for Best Small Farm Conservation and Environmental Practices. Got home, exhausted, unloaded all the animals and has an early night!
Jo Stover has daily adventures on her small farm, together with her Highland cattle and Portland sheep, bees, a few hens, dogs, and some two-legged family and friends.