09.01.14 An ill-advised competition entry – first catch your sheep, and a new camera


I have just received my Christmas gift from B – a swanky new camera, so now I have no more excuses for the low-grade photos I’ve been turning out – well, as soon as I do my 3 year degree course in photography that is…………. The camera came with a very slim instruction book, a CD disc and lots of cables and plugs. I swear there is a rule that techno words have to be used in instructions instead of normal everyday language………………..I will get to grips with this, I will, I will, I will…………..

The first photograph with the new camera, our highly trained lap dog, Hesper……………..




I am still knitting my vintage baby collection and still loving it, one reason is that I’m knitting with lovely blends of organic fibres – silks and wools. I’ve had a very long association with wool, I like the feel of it on my hands, I always did.

At one point in my life I (by default – a long story) became the farm shepherd; ending up with 500 breeding Ewes and a small flock of Charolais (I bred Charolais rams).

Sheep are funny, silly, illogical creatures; they are so happy if they can die on you, and if they die with no obvious cause they are happier still. They prefer the next door field, or someone’s garden, or even the road, to their own pasture. If there is a gap in a fence they will find it. They need worming and vaccinating, their feet need trimming, they have to be dipped, they need their  fleeces sheared; the shepherd is constantly watching out for fly strike. Their pastures need managing in the summer, and in the winter it’s a long round of moving them from one piece of winter fodder to the next, often in bitter weather, wind, snow, rain. Then there’s getting the rams in at the right time, and working out what to feed the ewes during pregnancy – a finely balanced diet is needed………..phew……. what a way to make a living; and each year I swore would be my last…………. and then………..and then………….and then the first lamb was born and my eyes pricked with tears and my heart leaped with joy and I marvelled at this tiny creature, this miracle, shepherding was just the best job in the whole wide world………….

I once received a card ………..ah, a competition… …….. from our local wool growers, twenty questions on sheep………..easy……… I knew them all and I promptly answered them and sent the card back. My answers were all correct….. two more rounds and I was in the finals! The day of the finals arrived, I was to be at the showground by 10am and I was to bring my overall with me ……….I know, I know, I should have guessed that I wasn’t answering more questions. My fellow finalists were men, big men with strong arms and weather beaten faces. And our task? To shear a sheep, of course! We are lined up on the stage, there’s a sheep pen and an electric shearing rig and there are of thousands of spectators (well at least 300). Lots are drawn as to who should go first, I drew fourth. Each contestant had to grab a sheep from the pen, turn it on its back and shear it – simple, well, all the blokes made it look simple. My overalls were red – bad choice – lots of cat-calls regarding parachute jumps and the like, and some comments too rude to repeat.

I caught my sheep – choosing the smallest… ………… bad choice apparently, bigger sheep are easier to shear; I was told my choice was too small and asked to choose another.

I then sheared my first ever and my last ever sheep, and although I say so myself I made not a bad job of it. I didn’t win to top prize (hardly surprising) but I did come 3rd, and here it is……………….

My Top of the Farm trophy………….


the trophy

the trophy

so much for my new camera, I haven’t found the ‘taking photographs of engraved glass’ page yet, anyway it says “Top of the Farm” and has a ram’s head engraved on the other side.

Quite an effort for a bit of glass don’t you think?


My project for the Quail blog for February is this notice board, simple to make and only takes about an hour.



Pin board

Pin board



To get free instructions on how to make the pin board go to http://www.quailbooks.com/blog/susans-february-post/

And don’t forget my website www.susancampbelldesign.co.uk


Another blog next Sunday – bye, bye





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