Been down to Welshpool Livestock Market this morning. £25 to the good. By the most extraordinary coincidence, I won a raffle prize donated by Mick Bates, Lib Dem Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire to the Grand Draw at Llanfair Caereinion Agricultural Show last September. Hadn't seen Glandon Lewis, the organiser til today, when he handed over my loot. I need some suggestions about what to spend the money on.
Prices were surprisingly good. Hoggets were about £12 over. I should explain this to those of you unfamiliar with farming terminology. A hogget is a lamb that was born last spring. The hogget trade will peter out over the next few weeks as lambs born this spring come onto the market. And the price is based on weight. For example a hogget weighing 58 kilos was making about £70 today (that's where the '£12 over' comes from.)
Another market that is in full swing at the moment is that for ewes and lambs. As found mules with one and a half lambs were making around £55. Some more explanation needed. 'As found' refers to the ewe's teeth. As a sheep becomes aged, she loses her teeth, and needs better grazing to prosper. A sheep is 'full mouthed' when she reaches 4 years, and after that her mouth is 'as you find it'. You will sometimes hear country people refer to 'mouthing' people - which means no more tha guessing their age. A mule is a crossbred sheep - in mid Wales usually applying to a cross between a Welsh Speckled-faced or Beulah mother crossed with a Blue-faced Leicester ram. The one and half lambs means that, for example a pen of 10 ewes will have 15 lambs with them, 5 singles and 5 doubles.
I was also told that the 'killer' trade was very good as, though I'd left before this market started. More explanation. This trade is for old ewes that are unsuitable for breeding again next season. The market is normally strong over the next month or so, partly because of a shortage of young lamb. When I started out in farming, old ewes were worth next to nothing, but with the arrival in the UK of people from the Indian sub-continent, they have become much more valuable.
I also called in on the cattle trade, but I think we've covered enough for this post. Now for that £25. Maybe a bottle of Sancerre to toast a Boris Johnsone victory.