In this part of the country, we can have few complaints about the weather in 2014. We missed the flooding which caused great hardship for farmers in parts of the south, our winter was mild and spring came early.

After a good lambing time and an abundance of grass, the terrible weather of 2013 was soon forgotten. In June, along with members of the Kirkby Stephen Branch we made our annual trip to the Royal Cornwall Show.

As in previous years, I would like to thank Bill and Claire Pedlar for providing us with top quality sheep for our stand. Farmers were in an optimistic mood after a fantastic spring with lambs thriving. One producer told me he’d sold 200 Suffolk x Mule lambs straight off their mothers in the first week in June for £106 (19.5 Kg dw @ £5.45/Kg) and they were mainly twins.

Like other sheep farmers in that area, he was keen to carry on running a flock of North of England Mules. Breeding sheep sales started well in August. There was strong demand for shearlings providing optimism for the lamb sales. We weren’t disappointed, buyers turned up in large numbers with prices up on the year.

Penrith & District Farmers Mart LLP – Tuesday 23rd September 2014 Penrith Mart had 10,000 lambs at their sale. The average was up £2 at £98.50.

Judging was carried out by Mr P Elliot, Bank House, and Mr N Barker, Dalton Old Hall, Lancaster, with Mr M Allen, Borrow by Grange, acting as referee. Results: 1st and winning the Eden Hall Farm Supplies Trophy and NEMSA rosette – Messrs Lord, Low Dowgill, 2nd Mssrs W M Hutchinson & Sons, Redgate, 3rd Mssrs G A and DE Thompson, Howburn, 4th Mr J H Little, Bankend Mill, 5th Messrs Lowis, Waterside House.

Harrison & Hetherington Ltd, Lazonby Mart – Thursday 11th September 2014 Will Halford of Worcester kindly judged the lambs after he’d fulfilled his responsibilities as shearling judge. He made the following awards: 1st and The Joe Armstrong memorial Cup P M Smith, Parson Shields, 2nd R J Bell, Scarrowmanwick, 3rd J Nattrass, Shield Hill, Top 4th J G Thirlwall, Quarry Farm.

Harrison & Hetherington Ltd, Lazonby Mart – Alston Moor Sale – 1st October 2014 The 17,597 lambs averaged a pleasing £101.84 up £6.21 on the year leaving everyone happy with the day’s trade. The sale ring was buzzing from start to finish with buyers from near and far keen to take home the quality stock presented. The Tuesday evening show was once again a great success with 21 top quality pens put before the judges; Brian Ridsdale, Yew Tree Farm, Penrith, and Richard Evans, Whittlebury, Towcester. The referee was Alan Walton, Haltwhistle. 1st and The William Armstrong Memorial Cup Messrs P L and J Dawson, Kentmere Hall, 2nd P M Smith, Parson Shields, 3rd J Lee and son, Morley Hill, 4th Mssrs P L and J Dawson, Kentmere Hall, 5th Mssrs Raine, Outhwaite, 6th R H and E M Lord, The Bog Farm.

The show was kindly sponsored by L A Smith Livestock Scanning, Shearwell Data, Aspatria Farmers, Carrs Billington, Harbro, A W Jenkinson, H & H Insurance and Dodd &Co.

Harrison & Hetherington Ltd. Lazonby Mart – Wednesday 15th October 2014 An entry of 9056 North Of England Mules met an average of £91.87 up £7.17 on the year. A notable feature of the sale was the tremendous demand for running lambs.

The pre sale show was kindly sponsored by Armstrong Watson, Barclays Bank and D W Toppin Ltd. Judge Mr Richard Harper of Kendal made the following awards: 1st and The Mounsey Kidd Memorial Trophy P M Smith, Parson Shields, 2nd P M Smith, Parson Shields, 3rd Kilnstown Farms Ltd., Kilnstown, 4th R J Bell, Scarrowmanwick.

I’d like to thank Harrison & Hetherington Ltd and Penrith and District Farmers Mart LLP and all their staff for the hard work and support throughout the year and in particular during the autumn sales. Also a special thanks to all committee members for their support and advice during my first year as chairman and particularly, Kaylene Lord, our secretary who keeps me right. All the best for 2015.

Paul Staley