Have you ever seen 4,000 sheep in one place? Today I did at the Melton Morbary Market auction. We travelled two hours south of York to Melton Morbary to view their market which happens every Tuesday. Keith Harding met us at the market to show us around and explain the process. Farmers bring their sheep, cattle, poultry and other animals to be sold via an auction. This time of year farms are selling the lambs they have raised all year, along with cull ewes and breeding ewes ready for tupping. Many of the fattened lambs are mules that Martyn showed us yesterday, the Swaledale x Border Leicester crosses. The sheep are separated into pens of mostly 10 sheep (some are 12 or 20, and other random assortments depending on age and size) and they are weighed for an average weight per head. The auctioneer then auctions each pen off by price per head. He will announce the average weight per pen (ie. 40 kilo), and the price the buyer pays is per head for the whole pen. It moved very quickly and was hard to follow!
Today we headed an hour and a half south to the city of Lincoln. It was a cooler, drizzly day with rain on and off, but nothing too substantial. While everyone else headed to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, I headed to the Lincoln Cathedral. The cathedral is an important icon for the city of Lincoln and I was interested to see how it compared to the York Minster. It began construction in 1192 and continued until around 1245. In 1237 the central tower collapsed (similar to the York Minster) and in 1311 the tower was replaced by a spire that made it the tallest building in the world for nearly 238 years. I had less than hour to walk around and had just missed the 11:00am tour so the lady at the entrance gave me some great pamphlets and information to do a quick tour myself. The nave of the Lincoln seemed slightly bigger, and I really enjoyed all the stained glass. The glass windows seemed brighter than those in the York Minster, probably because more of them have been renovated. Along the side of the nave were the most beautiful depictions of the twelve stations I have ever seen, carved completely from wood! This cathedral had a north and south transept, just like the York, with a choir right behind them. When I arrived, someone was practicing at the organ in the choir and whole church was filled with music. It gave me chills! The church contains a treasury, which now houses a collection of artifacts from the church. There were challis that dated back to the 14th century and earlier! That’s a piece of silver that was used for communion before our county was even thought of! The age was just astonishing! While chatting with a woman in the treasury, the Duty Clerk came in and I had a really nice talk with him about his role as the Duty Clerk and the prayers and Eucharist services he conducts daily. Along the north transept is a cloister with windows that look out into a grassy yard. That was one of the most beautiful parts to me. In the back of the church, there is a little carving on a column called an imp. The story is that he caused so much havoc that one of the angels turned him into stone. I began to run out of time by the time I got to the back of the church, so rushed through the small prayer rooms to the south. I stopped to enjoy the fount at the back of the nave before leaving. The fount is made of marble and was constructed in the 12th century. It is still used for baptisms today. I ended up with a few extra minutes and walked into some of the cute shops in Lincoln on my way back to meet the group.
Today we traveled one hour northwest of York to a small country town called Masham for their annual sheep festival. It was only day three of the trip but it has already surpassed all my expectations! I was very excited to see my first UK Lincolns, so upon arriving I headed right to the sheep show. This was a small show so there were only three breeders, but all the sheep were gorgeous. Within ten minutes of arriving, Keith Harding of Swepstone Lincoln Flock roped me into giving him a hand showing. I say "roped in", but really I volunteered! There was no way I was going to turn down an opportunity to show a UK Lincoln! I helped him get the sheep ready, and into the showring we went- white coats and all. This show is very relaxed, without an actual show ring, and showing in general is very relaxed here. No touching the feet to set them up, no walking circles around the ring, and only one person showing each sheep. I have to say, it was definitely my type of showing! Keith had two gimmer lambs (ewe lambs) and two ram lambs, but no shearlings (one year old sheep). The judge was Rod Dart from Illinois who is on the trip, and he of course had to give me a hard time in the ring; "When was your lamb born?", "Why does your sheep look dirty?". I had a hard time figuring out how they judge the different pairs. They do top gimmer and top male, followed by top overall sheep where they judge the gimmers against the males. There is also pen of three with one male and two gimmers, but they can be different ages. Keith ended up with top male! This was so much fun and my life is officially complete now! Dad was showing my own sheep at the Big E in Massachusetts today, so I didn't completely slack off :)
My first full day in York was spent exploring the gorgeous city. After the deepest sleep I've had in a long time, I was refreshed and ready for a day of walking.
I had my first introduction to an English breakfast; toast and eggs with beans, mushrooms, tomato and "black pudding". Also known as blood pudding, it is made with sheep blood and pork fat. I did try one bite, but I don't think I will be trying it again... I am loving all the tea though!
After breakfast, a few of our group met a tour guide at the York Minster Cathedral for a walking tour of the city. The first thing our tour guide said to remember was "The history of York is the history of England". We started at the Minster and spent a good part of the morning exploring it's beauty! The building of the Minster began in 1225 and was finished by 1425. It has over 128 stained glass windows; over 1/2 of the stained glass windows in the whole country of England! It is also the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps.
ell I have made it to York, England! The trip was a breeze, though exhausting. Easy transfers from BUF --> PHL --> Manchester. Overnight plane rides are no fun and managed to leave you completely exhausted despite just sitting for hours on end!
I am here as part of a trip organized by the National Lincoln Sheep Breeder's Association to visit and tour Lincoln flocks in the UK and learn about their sheep and wool production. In total there are 18 of us from New York to Washington who are a part of this trip.
Upon arrival, and making it through customs (the agent was extremely grumpy this morning!) we met at a small cafe at the train station to wait for the others to land. After meeting up with the rest of the group of Lincoln breeders in Manchester we took the train to York. I unfortunately was completely exhausted and fell asleep on the train and missed all the scenery and farmland between the two cities. It's ok- I really needed the sleep!
Emmaline Long, main owner of Orchard View Farm, has a passion for Lincoln sheep and loves educating others about her breed and farm, She currently serves as the Vice President of the National Lincoln Breeders Association.
Subscribe to my blog using the link below to receive emails when a new post is up!