Jonathan: This afternoon, two long-running threads came together for a long-overdue sheepy excursion ‘down north’ (as they say here in Uist). Back in late summer we placed an ad in Am Paipear saying we were buying fleeces, and Raghnall MacIain in N Uist phoned us to say he’d got some we might be interested in. It’s a very long way for just a few fleeces, so we needed to combine the trip with something else, and only a few days ago – many weeks later – did the arrangements for the afternoon’s two activities come into synchronicity. We met up with Raghnall at the quarry he owns. The fleeces were in the kind of tonne bag used for aggregates or fertilisers, sat in the middle of a vast industrial shed. As with most fleeces we’ve been to look at, the sheep were shorn far too late, when the old fleece has already separated from the new and has become matted and dry. Most of the fleeces were useless, but we agreed terms for taking a few which we could extract bits for use for hand-spinning lessons. After business on the international trading floor was complete for the day, we returned to Raghnall and Karen’s croft in Middlequarter (near Solas) where we had a brief look at High Bank Pioneer, a 4-year old Hebridean ram we’d tentatively agreed to swap with our own. Short of catching him and inspecting him closely – and there was no dog to do this – all I could do was look quickly at his profile, fleece condition, whether his feet were causing him difficulty, shape of horns …. there’s so much that can be taken in – almost subconsciously – by just watching a sheep moving for a few seconds. Anyway he looked good enough – though to be honest there’s not a lot of choice, and we certainly have no use for our own ram, as he’s closely related to all the ewes. That settled (the swap will happen when we get our own ram back from his desert island) we turned south again, stopping off in Haclete to pick up Rona’s six wedders, which we’ll grow on until next spring. Just one thing, though: the six ready and waiting for us in the fank (Rona had to go out) appeared to be eight and one of them a ewe! No answer on Rona’s mobile, so what to do? Well it would be reasonable enough to assume that in fact there were 7 spare wedders in the end, not 6, she’d not had a chance to warn us; but when asked if we wanted any more ewes, I’d actually answered no not this time. Left on her own in the fank, the young ewe was getting very anxious and trying to jump the fence, so we decided the best thing would be to take her with the others and sort out any mess afterwards. Back home in the evening from checking, dosing and releasing the sheep at the croft, Rona called: and the upshot of that is that our flock is now up to 33 Hebrideans, not the 31 we’d planned for. That’s now 1 registered ram, 16 registered breeding ewes, 15 wedder lambs, 1 ewe lamb.