Marie Prebble: 'My first Trading Standards inspection was thorough but found no problems'

livestockMachineryShows & Sales

I sold my first run of stores at Ashford in late October and have another 180 to shift in forthcoming sales. They looked smart as they entered the ring and being the smallest group of mine to sell, I was fairly happy with the price.


I am hoping those I sell fat through the market do not disappoint, as sales of half and whole lamb boxes are doing well, although it has to be ‘while stocks last’ this year as I will be on a plane to New Zealand in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, as they say.


All the ewe lambs away grazing have been given a pasteurella and clostridial vaccine for the first time and will need their second dose before the end of November. With the number of sheep I now run I would not want to be without my trusted handling yard, which I bought with a Rural Development Programme for England Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme grant in 2014.


I had my first Trading Standards inspection recently, which was very thorough in checking sheep, troughs, feed stores, movement and medicine records but found no problems.


Along with Kristina Boulden, of Romney Marsh Wools, I gave a presentation to Canterbury Farmers’ Club entitled ‘the sun never sets on the Romney sheep’, telling the story of the importance of the Romney breed in the local landscape and the historic significance of the wool trade, as well as current issues in the wool industry from my perspective as a producer and sheep shearer, and from Kristina‘s impressive knowledge of product manufacture and marketing.


A day off the farm presented itself as a dispersal sale at the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre, where an extensive collection of vintage shepherding memorabilia was being sold. Old tools and rural bygones were auctioned, from shepherd’s lanterns circa early 1900s, dipping crooks from the same era, numbering irons, and a very old shepherd’s smock and bowler hat, which I put a tentative bid on but left to someone braver than me to wear.


I came home with a couple of vintage shearing machines; one short stand Cooper Stewart and a Lister hand crank on a tripod for £25 each. I spent rather more on the only timber and steel hand screw wool press which I have seen in this country, unique to my knowledge, and very beautiful. My living room now resembles a shearing museum, so house guests have to be quite understanding.

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