I MUST ADMIT THAT MUCH OF THIS SECTION HAS LITTLE OR NOTHING TO DO WITH SHEEP, BUT WHEN IT'S YOUR WEBSITE YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH THINGS LIKE TAHT
ALL IN THE FAMILY
I mentioned some of my Scottish ancestors elsewhere. One of my cousins in Scotland had researched some family history and sent me some of her findings. She had records that several had emigrated long ago to North Carolina, specifically Anson County. We were taking pictures later at the North Carolina State Fair and one of the girls in the livestock office was from Anson County. She worked in the school system, so I asked her her if there were any Macqueens on the roster. She said there were some by that name. I told her that they may be my distant kinfolk. "I'm not so sure - they are all black."
I stopped at a local store for something to eat. I was sitting in the truck eating my pizza as two passing ladies studied the sheep I had in the bed of my truck.
"Where are you taking them - the slaughterhouse?" one lady asked. "No,ma'am, these are rams, they are going to work.", I replied.
"What kind of work do they do?"
NO HARM DONE
I was at the same store another day when a young lady walked out to my truck where I was eating my pizza.
"Which way are you going?" she asked
"That way." I replied pointing north. She seemed disappointed.
"Do you need a ride somewhere?"
" I need to get back to Hot Springs"
This was a mile away to the south.
"Jump in, I'll run you down there."
As she climbed into the vehicle, she thanked me and added,
"They say young women should not get in vehicles with strange men, but I saw you over here and thought you looked harmless."
So was that a compliment?
A lady I knew seemed to enjoy being an invalid. She used to wear one of these neck collars that people put on when going to court on a car accident insurance case .One of my smart alec buddies asked her why she wore the collar.
"It hurts when I look up." she complained rather pitifully.
"Well quit lookin' up."
SOMEONE HAS TO DO IT.
When going to Agriculture College, I tried to learn as much as I could. I went to Dairy school the last summer. I had little interest in dairying, but thought it would add to my resume. We were busy making cheese one day in 200 gallon vats of milk. Everyone was hard at work, except for one of my classmates who leaned against the door idly watching. I was amused to see him there and asked him what his job was.
" I'm in an advisory capacity" he assured me as we both laughed.
I was watching the cattle show at the West Virginia State Fair. A guy beside me asked where the judge was from.
"Kentucky", I informed him.
"He's a crook." he announced.
"What? The judge is a crook?"
"They're all crooks in Kentucky!"
"Where are YOU from?" I asked
ONLY THE LONELY
One of my relatives emigrated from Scotland to Australia. He stayed less than a week. Someone asked him why he did not stay longer in Australia.
"There was nobody there I knew."
One of my neighbors told of a time he was in a restaurant when a woman started choking on her food.
"Her husband had to give her the Heiniken maneuver"
An old fellow I rented a farm from gave me some advice. He suggested two places in the nearby county seat that I should avoid. "The hospital and the Ford dealer."
Pictured above are four powerful half brothers that we purchased from Joe Neil in Highland County. Having sold much of our flock, I was still getting calls for rams, and thought I should find some of the right kind to supply the demand. These rams were all by the same sire, a Ron Fletcher bred son of Highland Banner. Banner was the first NCC ram born in this newly founded flock, and as good a ram as we ever raised.
We sold some NCC ewes to Joe Neil a few years earlier, and they produced all four of the rams above. Those ewes were all sired by the Littledale B204 ram, providing heavy Scottish influence, and the sire of our great Highland Trooper ram.
The ram we elected to use in our new smaller flock is second from left, grandly named STAR VOYAGER as outlined below.
This is our new 2020 stud ram, A four year old, he was bred by Joe Neil in Highland County and his registered name is Neil 59A. He has our genetics on both sides of his pedigree He certainly exemplifies the kind I value, with mass and muscle shape, breed type and pattern. I wanted to give him a snappy new nickname as some people like to do. I decided to call him STAR VOTAGER and thought it might be of interest to mention where I first heard the name.
Long ago back in Scotland as a boy, I developed a huge crush on Shorthorn cattle, a breed my grandfather raised along with North Country sheep. One of the best known Shorthorn managers was an Irishman called Gordon Blackstock. He was a great promoter, something rather rare in the Scottish cattle business in those days.
The herd he managed had two National Champions, a bull called Constellation and a cow named Fair Clipper. The two were mated and produced a bull calf, one that obviously had the credentials to be a celebrity himself.
Blackstock decided to initiate a contest in the main daily newspaper, the Daily Express, to name the baby bull. Naturally, I sent in several names, but none of them were very good. Before long the paper published the winning name.
I was very impressed. What a good name, I thought, combining the parent names, Constellation and Clipper in that way. I was envious, and told myself I would name an animal that someday. I did not know what animal or even what species, but I had no doubt that I was going to be a stock breeder some day.
Well it took me close to seventy years, but I finally have a Star Voyager.
I mention the dynamic Gordon Blackstock here. A great stockman who played a big part in the Shorthorn breed on both sides of the Atlantic, he bred a wealth of good cattle.
He had another bull that was born on a train moving the entire herd from the south of England to better cattle country in northern Scotland That bull he named Northward Bound.
Someone joked that the whole herd was moved, lock, Blackstock and barrel.
Gordon Blackstock got me my first Shorthorn job in U.S.A. in 1965. Shortly after he sadly died in a car wreck, aged 47.
The last line in his obituary read. "He died as he lived with his foot hard down on the throttle."
I caught this picture at the Virginia ram test near Steele's Tavern. Two Dorset ram lambs graphically illustrate contrasting profiles regarding natural thickness , girth and muscle shape, not to mention scrotal size and bone. I should at this point declare that I do not imply that this is exclusively a Dorset problem. Far from it I would suggest that the modern meat sheep population has suffered widely from a proliferation of the cringe worthy style model on the left as opposed to the meaty, big barreled kind on the right. Certainly it is evident that many are actively working on rectifying the situation, but there is surely more work to be done. Observing the horrible creature on the left, It is interesting to speculate what originally initiated the multiplication of such unfortunate specimens. The entity which most typically takes the blame is the show ring., going back to the days when function and utility went out the window in the quest for frame, height and length. The same trend badly affected the cattle business, but mercifully there has in the bovine world been a marked trend in a common sense and practical direction. It seems the sheep seedstock industry has been slower to see the light for whatever reason. I would suggest that selection for frame altered the dimensions of the skeleton, adding length to the long bones and spine at the expense of skeletal width. This effect naturally reduces muscle mass, spring of rib and chest floor. Body depth is sacrificed, leading to a lack of capacity, degenerating in impolite cowboy terms into a "pencil-gutted narrow based, hatchet assed sorry son of a bitch" like Lefty above.Typically such creatures lack the capacity to thrive on grass, and do not provide carcass value with retail product close to that of their more well endowed peers. I would also suggest that selection for extreme body length may not be as prudent as many suppose. That dimensional extremity may well lead to a less easy keeping harder doing kind, lacking the feed efficiency and function of their more capacious herdmates.
My maternal grandfather , mentioned elsewhere was a gifted livestock breeder who motivated me to spend my life doing the same.
My other grandfather was a celebrated Presbyterian minister who preached in Gaelic, Scotland's ancient native tongue. Many of his forebears were clergymen also.
I suppose I do at times tend to reveal my ecumenical ancestry , but my gospel is not the holy word and scriptures, but rather the gospel of righteousness related to genetic goodness and selection of productive meat animals .