The end of September sees a very brief period of calm before the inevitable storm of harvest begins and the focus of the man(and woman)power at Mulga Springs is directed away from the sheep element of the business and fixed firmly on the cropping side of things.
As the title of this post suggests for the last couple of months we have lived, breathed and on a several occasions eaten sheep as the landscape has been dominated by the Stud breeders field day, the Northampton Show and the 'sheep season' finale in the form of the ram sale.
Probably the most important part of the preparation for these three events involves a cameo appearance from one of my favourite Mulga Springs characters in the form of wool/sheep classer Tee Kay who spends a few days a year assessing our wool and putting together the respective A-Teams of rams for the field day, show and sale.
For the past 4-5 years I have taken a couple of days off work to be present for 'classing' as not only does it provide me with a good overview of how the sheep are looking but the banter between Kissa, Tee Kay and Wifey would be worthy of an admission fee. Having been a sports statistics geek since I was about 12 I have also managed to land the job of 'sheep statistician' reading the respective weights, wool micron (quality of the wool), muscle scores and comfort factor when ear tag numbers of individual rams are called out.
The Northern Stud breeders Field Day which gives merino sheep breeders a chance to showcase their rams to prospective buyers is the first event during 'sheep season' and while that may sound like a reasonably simple exercise the amount of preparation that goes into the day is enormous. As it turned out the day was deemed a success with a good turnout and the idea of having a couple of guest speakers present on sheep related topics well received.
After the washout at the Chapman Valley show the weather for the Northampton equivalent was spectacular and gave us the chance to put ASH on a couple of rides, ZCP was less than impressed with this state of affairs as despite his gargantuan size for a 21 month there wasn't one height limit he could meet.
TJ got her first experience of a country Show and seemed to enjoy it although Wifey and my discussions about letting ZASH queue to go into the petting zoo somewhat confused her with the quite reasonable comment of "They have far more animals to play with at the farm so I wouldn't bother."
With one of Mulga Springs ewes coming home with more ribbons than a rhythmic gymnastic competition the Northampton show judging went very well from our perspective and saw Kissa and Wifey share a few celebratory if not reflective beers at the end of the day.
Sheep weren't the only winners from Mulga Springs on show day with KK's youngest daughter also bringing home the chocolates in the 'Young Farmers Competition' where entrants under the age of 18 compete in a number of activities relating to sheep and cropping. Wifey's suggestion that I should enter to increase my farming knowledge while a little mean was probably warranted….
September's smorgasbord of sheep wraps up with the sale where all involved find out what their peers really think about the rams they put up for sale. The auction itself is a pretty good spectacle and this year I took my journey into the wonderful world of sheep statistics one step further by actually recording the price of every single ram sold at the sale. I know it may sound a bit 'Trainspotting-like' but I actually found it somewhat interesting and it certainly gave me a bit more of an insight in terms of who buys who's rams which in itself is good market research for our stud.
Wifey, Kissa, KK as well as Tee Kay were all reasonably happy with how the sale went from Mulga Springs point of view. All the rams we put into the sale were sold with a top price of $1050. Probably most importantly we attracted a new buyer which was very satisfying as it had been one of the key goals for this year's sale.
Lyndale stud achieved the top priced ram at the sale with the Walkindyer and Sandhurst studs also having a good day.
By the time I post this harvest will be well underway for most people and while 'going round in circles' will be the focus of my next blog I thought it worthwhile including some photos from H-Day (first day of harvest) at Mulga Springs.
In closing I would just like to give a big shoutout to all those among us who will become harvest widows (or in my case a widower) for the next couple of months, heres hoping the yields are high and the breakdowns are low on your place….