AS the year moves on at an alarmingly rapid pace, the time has all too quickly come round for Castlewellan Blackface Sheep Breeders to start making preparations for their annual sale, which is only a matter of days away in Hilltown on Wednesday, September 12.
This year and last will be a couple of years that will be long remembered for the effect it has had on the world economy and on the lives of everyone. Farming, however, has to carry on as close to the new normal, whatever that may prove to be, as people depend on farmers to produce the food for the table irrespective of what is happening in the wider world.
The success of the 2019 Blackface National Show in Northern Ireland had put the spotlight firmly back on Blackface sheep and their position at the top of the summit of the pyramid of stratification of the British and Irish sheep industry. With the effect that Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol has had on the importation of sheep into Northern Ireland, this sale represents an excellent opportunity to purchase quality Blackface females and be able to bring them home with you on the day with all the advantages that ensue from such an operation.
Also the sale will be available to view and bid on Marteye for anyone still wary about the incidence of Covid-19.
The harsh hill areas such as the Mournes and Slieve Croob have traditionally produced a reservoir of quality Blackface females, which are drafted to marginal or lowland farms either as ewe lambs, shearling ewes or four or five-year-old ewes, where they are bred pure or crossed with various breeds, including the Bluefaced Leicester, to produce the much-sought-after Mule ewe.
In an ever increasing technological age it is vitally important to have a presence on the web and equally as important a social media profile. With this in mind the society now has its own website and Facebook page.
If you put Castlewellan Blackface Sheep Breeders into Google this will give you a link to the website and Facebook page. A very useful feature of the website is a Download Document section where anyone can view or download the sale catalogue at the click of a mouse in the week leading up to the sale.
Over many years the sale has gained an increasing reputation for quality female stock and with this very much in mind the local society decided a few years ago that the sale would reflect that reputation and would be a female only evening sale. The sale will start at 7pm sharp with mule ewe lambs followed immediately by Blackface shearling ewes, Blackface ewe lambs and then Blackface-aged ewes and will be run within the Covid-19 guidelines that are in place at the time.
All stock will be in the saleyard for roughly three hours before the sale starts to give perspective buyers a chance to view, inspect and choose their preferred purchases.