We are enjoying a few days in the Yorkshire Dales, staying in a 16th century cottage surrounded by fields of sheep. The cottage is simple, but comfortable, and we’re a short walk away from Hawes.
Today we went to see the animal market in action. I’ve never been to an animal auction before, so it was all very interesting. We arrived during the sheep sales—pens of sheep waiting in a barn. We could hear the chant of the auctioneer, and every few minutes a man opened a door, a few sheep ran along an aisle between the pens, stopping when blocked by a gate that another man held open, they then veered into an empty pen, the man closed the door behind them. It was all very organised. I think everyone else was a farmer, either hoping to buy or sell. But no one frowned at us or asked us why we were there, so we decided to venture into the actual auction.
The auction was held in a room with curved seats like an amphitheatre, the auctioneer at a high desk against one wall and an area at the front with a large pen. The animals were herded along walkways into the pen. Men stood there, and they felt the wool of each batch of sheep. (At least, I think that’s what they were doing, I wouldn’t think farmers would stroke sheep for no reason.) The auctioneer chanted in his sing-song voice, banged his hammer, the exit was opened and the sheep ran out. At one point, a sheep had a loop-out and tried to leap over the fence. Instead of giving her lots of space (which is what I would have instinctively have done) the farmers edged closer, so she was trapped in the corner. Which meant that she couldn’t hurt herself by banging against the fence, nor did she have room to jump again. They obviously knew what they were doing.
I was interested to see a couple of young boys, about ten-years-old, in the ring. (Watching, not being sold!) They had tough boots and sensible haircuts and were obviously farmers of the future. One sat eating a sandwich, the other was at the front, feeling the wool as the sheep came through, copying his dad. They had an ease about them, they had been here before, it was part of the job. I suspect they were rather capable kids, would be handy in an emergency.
We managed to leave the market without buying anything (which was bit of a shame, but I’m not sure how we’d have got a sheep home with us). We walked back to the cottage across the fields. There were calves in the fields, and lots more lambs, a river bubbled next to us with geese swimming, bees buzzed in the blossom, the disused railway line ran over low stone bridges, and the dales rose on either side. A peaceful place in the sunshine. I’m not sure that anywhere really compares with the English countryside on a warm spring morning.
Hope you have a great day. Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x