A YOUNG lad, wise beyond his years, gave one of the best definitions of selective breeding that I have ever heard on a programme. Not verbatim, but his words went something like this as he showed off his sheep to the camera.

“These are our tups and the tups are like boys and they mate the girls, and make them have lambs and then you keep their lambs to breed like, more tups you identify your yows (ewes) and tups by the tag normally, and sometimes you can remember who they are and who sired them and who dammed them by how they look, but I can’t, and you’ve got certain yows to put with certain tups or, you put them in the same field with the tup without another tup in, or otherwise the tup that you want to tup some, will tup the ones that you want to tup the others, or for the other tup to tup and that would make a bad mixture with a sheep with wide horns or black feet.”

Brilliant. Selective breeding in a nutshell. Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel eat your heart out.

And I would not be surprised to see him at the weekend at a farm sale we attended.

As it was a Saturday, a lot of children were there, and many of them made sure they were in the front row.

Most were already mini farmers, but although probably not acquiring the desired level of grumpiness yet, had kitted themselves out in flat caps and wellies.

It is always poignant to go to a farm sale when the tenant is retiring. I must say I fancied the root cutter, it would make a lovely garden feature somewhere, but was told in no uncertain terms the back of the trailer was destined for sheep and sheep alone on the return journey.

Most heart-wrenching to me though was the sheepdog. He could not contain himself at the ringside.

Given half a chance he was through the bars of the sale ring and nipping at the heels of his boss’s sheep as they were paraded round for the buyers to bid on.

When the main tractor was sold, he sat in the cab.

When the quad bike auctioned, he perched on the box above the back wheels.

Life will be very different from now on but he was a great help when we loaded up the sheep we bought, and I was surprised not to see him in the back of the trailer when we turned them out at home.