写真

Photographer's Note

A very cold day last week on the road between Broughton and Biggar, the hills having received a light coating of snow the previous night and the flat field badly flooded either side of a disused railway line. And some colourfully decorated sheep in the foreground.

I've previously shown some colourful sheep but those were Scottish Blackface sheep which in these parts, are frequently "dipped" in a yellow, ochre or almost orange dye in order to make them appear a little more attractive for "showing" and being judged at agricultural shows.

The sheep in this picture are also Scottish Blackfaces but the colours on their fleeces are for a different reason. No doubt the crimson colour on the shoulders of these sheep indicates their owner but the various colours on their rumps or "bottoms" are due to stuff called "raddle".

Around November is "tupping time" when rams (or "tups") are introduced to ewes in order that a farmer can have a fresh supply of newborn lambs in February, March or April next year. But a wise sheep farmer will have some tricks up his sleeve to make management of his flock a little easier and more successful.

Some breeders use "teaser" tups to encourage ewes to come into season. "Teasers" are vasectomised tups not castrated so they function as an entire tup but cannot impregnate ewes. Probably not a bad job for an individual of less than perfect lineage and certainly preferable to ending up as someone's Sunday roast.

The farmer will also arrange for his ram ("tup") to have "raddle" applied - that is either a large daub of grease paint applied to its chest or a coloured pad strapped about its chest. When the ram mates with a ewe, the ewe is "marked" with that colour on her hindquarters. Then the farmer is aware which ewes have mated.

Over the course of the next few weeks, the farmer will change the colour of the raddle every ten days or so and, after the sheep have mated, the colours of the raddle on the ewes will give him some idea of when each ewe is most likely to give birth, so making lambing time just a little more easily organised.

You can see a larger version of this photograph on "beta" TE here.

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1985 W: 427 N: 7659] (30513)
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