Bala 2 Coast and Country Auctions


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Bala 2

Series looking at Britain's traditional markets. This programme follows proceedings at the Bala Autumn sale - home to one of the UK's most important sheepdog auctions.


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Transcript


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We may live in a digital age...

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..but a surprising amount of British trade is still done the

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old-fashioned way...

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AUCTIONEER CALLS OUT

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..at traditional auctions.

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Now's your time to get a bargain.

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These sales may feel like throwbacks to a bygone age...

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but for the buyers and sellers who flock to them,

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they're still the best way to conduct business.

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At 1,500, blow your nose and bid again.

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We'll be visiting the UK's most dynamic traditional markets...

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..selling everything from pigs to cattle, sheepdogs to ponies,

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fish to veg,

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and discovering how they are the heartbeat of rural life.

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There'll be bargains to be had today.

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-4.50.

-That's part of being at an auction.

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Today, we're in North Wales

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at one of the biggest sheepdog sales in the country.

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I'll take 500, sir.

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The breed on sale is the classic Border collie -

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a British dog with a global reputation.

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We'll be meeting the auctioneers...

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2,400. 2,500.

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..and following the fortunes of three buyers and sellers...

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Get it! Good lad.

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Let's hope that some people will come today to buy my dog.

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The look of the dog...

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-..as they experience all the excitement...

-600..

-WHISTLE BLOWS

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No, he says, I'm afraid. He knows what he's got there.

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-..and tension...

-Hey! Hey!

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-Reputations can be made or broken in Bala.

-..as the hammer falls.

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We're in Snowdonia -

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over 800 square miles of spectacular mountains, coastline and lakes.

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Right on the edge of this stunning landscape lies Bala -

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an ancient market town steeped in history.

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Farming is at the heart of the Welsh economy,

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where sheep outnumber people three to one.

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And where there are sheep, there are sheepdogs.

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HE WHISTLES

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-Stand. Come by.

-Stand.

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Away. That'll do!

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No surprise, then, that Bala is home

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to Britain's oldest sheepdog auction,

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and this year's autumn sale is just getting under way.

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-How are we?

-Did Brian send you a video of those pups?

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I'll show you what her pups are doing, yeah?

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He rides in the pick-up, but I've never had him on a bike.

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I haven't got a bike.

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Running the show are veteran auctioneers

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Glyn Owens and Elfor Morris.

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They run a busy livestock auction a few miles from Bala,

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selling farm animals, especially sheep, three times a week.

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I have been an auctioneer now for 23 years.

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It was always something I wanted to do, really,

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from a young age - selling stock with my father at a young age.

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You go there and you love the buzz

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and the whole atmosphere of the auction system, really.

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All together, all together. What weight? 39.5 all together, sir.

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I like meeting people, and the enjoyment is

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satisfaction of getting a good trade for people as well,

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cos you've got to remember, people bring their product to us to sell,

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and it is their financial future.

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But twice a year, they turn their attention

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to the special sheepdog sale.

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HE SINGS TO HIMSELF

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What's your panic, Sean?

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-OK.

-Nearly 80 sheepdogs will be sold today,

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with as many as 500 people turning up to watch and bid.

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We show the dogs first, which is very important.

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It is like an exhibition.

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And people can see exactly what they are buying as they run on the field,

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to be quite honest.

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So when you do do a good job for them, that is great satisfaction,

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and going home after a good sale, nothing better.

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Going home after a bad sale, nothing worse.

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THUNDER RUMBLES

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But today there's a problem.

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It's not just raining,

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it's pouring.

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I can't ever remember a day like this on this hill,

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and I've been coming here well over 20 years.

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It was pretty bad two years ago, but today, without a shadow of a doubt,

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is the worst I've ever experienced here.

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Unfortunately, because the forecast was so bad last night,

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people have decided to keep away, but as the day goes on, I'm sure

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we'll have a lot of people here and

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I'm convinced we'll have a good sale again today.

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Despite the turnout and the rain not letting up, the show must go on.

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Can I welcome you all here to the Bala Sheepdog Sale?

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We have got some very good dogs on offer for you today. The sale is in

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guineas, by the way. The sale is in guineas.

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A guinea - a British coin that's over 350 years old -

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is the equivalent of £1.05.

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It's an old-fashioned way of selling dogs and pedigree livestock, but not

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only that, obviously as a company, when we sell in guineas,

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the company gets the guinea.

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We start the sale with lot number one - Debbie Jenkins with Tips.

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Sheepdog auctions are a particularly tough type of sale.

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Sellers have to perform a live demonstration with their dogs,

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rounding up a group of sheep.

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They have three minutes to impress the crowd of fellow experts as

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-bidding begins.

-For the handlers, the preparation could take, well,

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anywhere from six to 12 months,

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preparing this dog for the three minutes that it's got to

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show itself off, and the guy might be depending on that for a living.

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1,500 away. 1,500 away. quickly.

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Buyers are looking for how the dog responds to commands.

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A calm, steady dog is what everybody is looking for.

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Nobody wants a dog that's kind of wild and, you know,

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a bit too strong, sort of thing, even though you need it sometimes,

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if you're moving big flocks of sheep.

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That handler will be showing all the skills that that dog has got in

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three minutes, and the buyers then will be bidding accordingly,

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and hopefully everything goes well and the dog will have a premium

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and sell well for the handler. Well, there we are.

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He's very disappointed but, believe it or not,

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the dog is on the market today.

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-At 600. Now is your time to get a bargain.

-WHISTLE BLOWS

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When the whistle's blown, their three minutes are up

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but the bidding carries on.

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600. He's worth every penny.

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However, with no sign of the rain stopping any time soon,

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it could well be a tough auction for everybody.

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All finished, all done, at 600 it is.

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It does have an effect on everything.

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The handler, you know, is there

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in his coat and his, you know, cap, with a whistle,

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getting wet and all this kind of thing.

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It can affect the sheep as well.

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Bad weather can also affect the sheep.

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It can have an effect on how the dogs work as well, to be honest with you.

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If the dogs can't hear the handlers whistling or shouting the commands,

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you know, it can have a bit of an effect.

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Despite the torrential downpour,

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Glyn and Elfor are determined to keep selling,

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making sure everyone goes home with more than just wet feet.

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See you in a bit, boys.

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Seller Emrys Jones is well aware how the rain might affect sales.

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There's not many people here, unfortunately, due to the weather.

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Normally, there's about four, five,

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six rows of cars filling the car park and, no, they're not here.

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I'm hoping....there'll be bargains to be had today.

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Emrys lives 30 miles south-west of Bala in Talybont.

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He lives and works on a smallholding passed down in his family

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for three generations.

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Smallhold farming is a precarious way of making a living,

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and Emrys works several jobs on his 25-acre farm.

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Alongside his sheep,

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he rents out caravans, sells firewood

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and clears hedgerows.

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But Emrys's passion is training and selling sheepdogs,

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and in the autumn months, when his caravan business is quiet,

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they're an important source of income.

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Stand. Stand.

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Stand... Stand, stand.

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Get up. Steady. Good lad.

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He's been training sheepdogs since he was 13 years old.

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The thing I like most about sheepdogs,

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I would say they are the Sherlock Holmes of dogs.

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I love putting the work in, and then you get so much back out.

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I love going up the mountains with a dog that you've either bred or

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trained and you see it working.

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It puts a lump in your throat.

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It's great. But then, on the other side, you know, when you take a dog

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up there that you've trained and it all goes horribly wrong,

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it fills you with doom.

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Stand. Stand there.

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-Stand there.

-Emrys has been working for months to get two of his dogs,

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Jim and Ross, ready for the Bala auction. HE WHISTLES

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That'll do. Well, this is Jim.

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He's a little bit frantic.

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He can do a good job when he settles down.

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He's only young, 16 months.

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Jim. Jim.

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And I'm hoping to get around 2,500, maybe 2,700 if I'm lucky.

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Next up is Ross.

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Well, this is my second dog, Ross.

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He's an absolute dream to handle.

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He's easy. Your grandma could handle this one.

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I'm hoping to maybe get £3,000 for him.

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At the auction, Emrys will have to showcase

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his dogs' sheep-herding skills to a crowd of fellow professionals.

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With three minutes to make an impression,

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it can be a nerve-racking experience.

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The sale Saturday will be, like, to me,

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full of excitement, trepidation, woe,

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hoping that your dog's going to do well.

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How Emrys's dogs perform on the day will make a big difference to how

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much profit he can make.

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Ross, I think he's a cracking little dog.

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He will take it in his stride.

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I think, if anything, he will love it.

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The one that I'm worried about the most, I would say, is Jim,

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because he is eager and he could

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apply too much pressure to those little ewe lambs and scatter them,

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and then your £3,000 or £2,500 dog may be only 1,400 or 1,500.

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HE WHISTLES

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Come by.

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Back at the auction, the rain is relentless.

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If I can get between 600 and 1,000, knowing what he's like,

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-I'd be happy.

-2,800.

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He's very disappointed with it.

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Emrys is next up with Jim. But with the bad weather,

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some sellers have been having trouble getting good prices.

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HE GROANS

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As a seller today, I'm disappointed, but we can't do anything here.

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We're in the laps of the gods.

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We can't do anything about the weather.

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Let's hope that some people will come today to buy my dog.

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Number 24.

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And this is Mr Emrys Jones.

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But seasoned pro Emrys isn't deterred.

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He'll be showing off Jim's skills,

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and he's hoping the bidding will hit around 2,500 guineas.

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-Jim.

-A good-looking, pricked-eared dog.

-And the dog.

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Emrys Jones is a bit of a character, and he always shows with confidence,

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he's a very confident guy.

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Great character, and a bit of a laugh with Emrys all the time.

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-Oh, he's not bad either.

-Hearing Emrys speak Welsh,

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a buyer asks if Jim knows English commands.

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HE SPEAKS IN WELSH

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Yes, yes. Irish, Scottish.

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Emrys assures him he does.

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Despite Emrys's calm exterior, Jim has been a handful at times.

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One false move, and Emrys stands to lose out on hundreds of pounds.

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And with weather this bad, anything could happen.

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Because it's a bit scary Mary with all the rain and the wind,

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Jim will take advantage of that,

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because that's the kind of dog he is.

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A bit of a handful, but let's keep our fingers and legs and arms and

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everything crossed for this afternoon.

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Number 24 in your catalogue. This is Jim.

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Stand! Get up!

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Stand! Come by.

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Stand! Stand there. Come by.

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Stand! Stand.

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Emrys is working Jim hard, but bidding is sluggish.

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3,000. 2,000, start me quickly, no less.

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Should all be in there. 2,000 off. 2,000 away. 2,000.

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-Come by. Stand.

-HE WHISTLES

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Get up.

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Stand. That'll do. Good boy.

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-Good boy.

-Who's got 1,500 away, quickly?

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No less. Once I count him in, should all be in there for quality

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like this. 1,500 away. 15 with me.

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16. 18. 2,000. 2,100.

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Jim is proving quick to respond to all of Emrys's commands.

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The bids begin to flood in as all the elements start to come together.

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-Stay there.

-16. 18. 2,000. 2,100. 2,200.

-Get up. Good lad.

-2,300 for what a good dog he is.

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2,400. 2,500. 2,600. 2,700. 2,700. 2,800.

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Don't lose him. 2,800 bid. 2,800.

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-Just look at this one now.

-WHISTLE BLOWS

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The three minutes are up, but the bidding continues.

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2,800.

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Have you all done? And selling away, all finished,

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all done for 2,800 guineas.

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The gentleman here, lucky man, 2,800 guineas.

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Jim has wowed the crowd.

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With a price of nearly 3,000,

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he's brought in over £400 more than Emrys hoped for.

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I'm really pleased with Jim. The smile tells it all.

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He worked very well.

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In the conditions, he kept off the sheep,

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he worked them round and, to be honest, today,

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I would have let him go for £1,700, but he made 2,800, so...

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..kerching! We're really happy.

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-This gentleman...

-Oh, this one. Oh, yes. OK. Thank you very much.

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Come over here. We'll talk over here.

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What's pleased me the most, he's going to a lovely place.

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-Where's he going?

-Newton Stewart.

-Newton Stewart, top of Scotland?

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-No, bottom of Scotland.

-Oh, bottom of Scotland.

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Oh, sorry. Beg my pardon.

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-How many sheep have you got?

-Oh, 700, 800.

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Oh, right. Oh, you'll be all right.

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He's a lovely dog round the yard.

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He's no bother. Good boy, Jim.

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He's on "away", "come by", "stand", and "that'll do".

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-If he goes a little bit tight, just...

-HE SPEAKS WELSH

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..which means "to me", and he'll come off the sheep a little bit and

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then he'll give them a bit more room.

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With Jim taking the weather in his stride,

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Emrys has just one dog, Ross,

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to sell at the auction later this afternoon, and he has high hopes.

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The town of Bala may be small and remote,

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but it has an impressive claim to fame.

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The world's first sheepdog trials were held here nearly 150 years ago.

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Trialling really took off after that all over the country.

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And at its heart was a new breed of dog, the Border collie.

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Old Hemp here, born in 1893, is the father of the breed and, incredibly,

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all pure Border collies in the world today

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are said to be descended from him.

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Among the cleverest of all the canines,

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collies can be trained

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to obey a range of up to 20 verbal commands and whistles

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that allow them to control large herds of sheep.

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I think the collie has a tremendous brain.

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They listen well, they react to commands

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better than a lot of other dogs.

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For farmers with large flocks on remote hillsides,

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a skilled sheepdog is invaluable.

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That's why many are prepared to pay thousands for a really good one.

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The dogs are getting better every year, you know.

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And there was a time, I remember, going back years now,

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when the dogs were not quite as good,

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when the dogs would just run

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to all kinds of different directions and everything.

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Stand! Stand!

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But it's not just the dogs that have improved.

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The handlers now put in months of preparation

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to make sure their dog is best in show.

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Stand!

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The top handlers are absolutely superb dog-handlers.

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It's not enough to like an animal that you want to show or train as a

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sheepdog. You've got to love it.

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You've got to have a handler who is quiet in the way he treats his

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animals. It's not worth having someone who shouts.

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Another thing is not overworking the sheepdog at one time.

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5,800.

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And if a handler starts to get a name for themselves,

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the sheepdog auction can become a family business, too.

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There's a lot of connections, you know.

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People will try and follow a certain bloodline of dog.

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If they might have started with you or started with your grandfather,

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perhaps, then they tend to follow them just to see how they're turning

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out, type of thing, so, yes, it's a big event in the diary, I would say.

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At 5,800 guineas...

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Don't get wet, yeah. OK, thanks very much.

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-Nice to have met you both.

-Back at the auction,

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the rain has been pouring down all day

0:19:220:19:24

and it's more than auctioneer Glyn had bargained for.

0:19:240:19:28

Glyn Owens, in Bala, wet, miserable, nagging wife, don't want to go home.

0:19:290:19:35

Whilst the rain has given the sellers a bit of a battering

0:19:370:19:40

and driven some of the crowds away...

0:19:400:19:42

..buyer Osian Jones is determined to get what he wants.

0:19:440:19:49

Having stood in the rain all day,

0:19:510:19:53

getting this wet, it'd be a bit of a disappointment

0:19:530:19:56

leaving without a dog that I can train.

0:19:560:19:58

26-year-old Osian is none other

0:20:010:20:03

than seller Emrys's son. Since returning from travelling,

0:20:030:20:07

he's been busy working on his dad's farm and he's been managing the

0:20:070:20:11

sheepdog puppies for Emrys.

0:20:110:20:13

You hold on to her, then, and I'll hold on to him.

0:20:140:20:16

He's a good boy.

0:20:180:20:19

Oh, yes.

0:20:230:20:26

-What's his name?

-Tim.

0:20:270:20:28

Tim?

0:20:280:20:29

Only temporarily.

0:20:300:20:31

How many dogs have we got right now, here?

0:20:310:20:33

So, I think we're on six.

0:20:330:20:35

-Including these two?

-Including these two.

0:20:350:20:38

I think I'll keep on to him, you know, Osh, I quite like him.

0:20:380:20:41

-Yeah.

-I'll hold him for a little bit longer, yeah?

0:20:410:20:44

Yeah. Yeah. Shall we put it to the vote?

0:20:440:20:48

Yes!

0:20:480:20:49

-Where is she going now? To...

-Ireland.

-To Ireland, yes.

0:20:500:20:54

I'll keep him, I think, but I'll change his name.

0:20:540:20:56

I don't like Tim. Tom.

0:20:560:20:58

-Yeah, Tom's nice.

-Tom.

0:20:580:21:01

I'll keep him. I'll try him.

0:21:010:21:03

Yeah? Stay with me.

0:21:030:21:05

-Oh, yes.

-Stand.

0:21:050:21:06

Steady.

0:21:080:21:10

Stand. Stand.

0:21:100:21:11

Osian trained as an engineer, but after coming home,

0:21:130:21:17

remembered his love of working with sheepdogs.

0:21:170:21:20

This year, I had the opportunity to kind of travel for eight months

0:21:200:21:24

and, as part of that opportunity, one of the places was Australia.

0:21:240:21:29

I went over there to pursue some work

0:21:290:21:31

but ended up part time on a huge sheep farm.

0:21:310:21:35

I thought, "If I can do this,

0:21:350:21:37

"maybe it's something that I should focus on more when I get home."

0:21:370:21:40

This is now a big part of my life, training sheepdogs.

0:21:400:21:44

And at the Bala auction,

0:21:440:21:45

he's on the lookout to buy a dog of his own

0:21:450:21:48

that he can train up for competitions.

0:21:480:21:50

I bought a dog and she wasn't quite good enough,

0:21:500:21:53

so that kind of makes me readjust for Bala,

0:21:530:21:56

and now Bala is more about looking

0:21:560:21:58

for young dogs with potential to train,

0:21:580:22:01

rather than buying in an experienced dog and polishing it ready to trial.

0:22:010:22:06

Stand.

0:22:070:22:08

Stand.

0:22:080:22:10

-Come by.

-I'm very proud of Osian for taking the reins, so to speak.

0:22:100:22:15

Not many young lads are getting into it now.

0:22:160:22:19

-Stand.

-Yes, really proud.

0:22:190:22:21

He's studying the auction catalogue closely.

0:22:240:22:27

I will look between £600 and £1,000,

0:22:270:22:30

something that has a nice nature and is ready to then move on,

0:22:300:22:33

something that I'll be able to come home,

0:22:330:22:36

teach and then train and move on.

0:22:360:22:39

As a relative newcomer, the auction can be a bit intimidating.

0:22:390:22:45

Bidding at the auction is quite a tense process.

0:22:450:22:48

It comes naturally to some people

0:22:480:22:50

but it makes me feel a little bit on edge. There's a lot happening,

0:22:500:22:53

so it's not as if you're bidding on an item and it's sitting.

0:22:530:22:57

This dog is still working in front of you.

0:22:570:23:00

What type of sheep are they on Saturday?

0:23:020:23:04

With his modest budget, the sale could be a challenge for Osian.

0:23:060:23:10

I've got a feeling they're going to be expensive, you know.

0:23:100:23:14

Well, that's good for you. Not so much for me.

0:23:140:23:16

Yeah. Yeah.

0:23:170:23:20

Do you think we'll get top price?

0:23:200:23:22

-Yeah. One and two!

-Yeah, God loves an optimist.

0:23:220:23:28

Our relationship is pretty good.

0:23:280:23:30

The advice I've given Osian is, hold my hand, don't go far,

0:23:300:23:35

because there's some sharks out there.

0:23:350:23:37

Dad's played a huge part in me being a buyer in the auction,

0:23:370:23:41

mainly from teaching me how to sell a dog.

0:23:410:23:45

But he's very calm and he's very subtle in a sale,

0:23:450:23:48

so I think little things like that

0:23:480:23:50

will hopefully put me in good stead for Saturday.

0:23:500:23:54

If everything goes to plan,

0:23:540:23:56

Osian will get a dog at under £1,000

0:23:560:23:58

and begin his new career in competitive sheepdog trialling.

0:23:580:24:02

When you walk to the field and Glyn asks you how much you want for Jim...

0:24:030:24:07

-Don't say anything.

-Nothing? You're not going to say nothing?

0:24:070:24:10

No, because there's too many sharks there, listening.

0:24:100:24:12

They'll hear what you've got to say.

0:24:120:24:14

Oh, yeah.

0:24:140:24:16

At 1,200. 1,200. 1,300. 1,300.

0:24:200:24:26

1,300. 1,300.

0:24:260:24:29

On the fence, I'll take it at 1,300. 14, 1,400.

0:24:290:24:36

Go on.

0:24:360:24:37

There you go. I'll leave that lead on him, then you've got him ready.

0:24:390:24:42

Still in the rain, the auction soldiers on

0:24:420:24:45

-and Osian has a game plan.

-There are two dogs in particular,

0:24:450:24:50

one that I've been to see prior to the sale.

0:24:500:24:52

She's got a little bit of style,

0:24:530:24:55

so it'll be interesting to see how she deals with this environment.

0:24:550:24:58

That's very important, really.

0:24:580:25:00

And the other one, we're just going to see how she gets on.

0:25:000:25:03

I've seen a video of her

0:25:030:25:04

but I'd like to see her first hand and how she behaves.

0:25:040:25:07

I'm only selling her because I've got too many the same age.

0:25:070:25:10

Too many the same age.

0:25:100:25:11

Having less money to spend, Osian will be bidding on the younger dogs.

0:25:140:25:18

These are shown off in a much smaller pen.

0:25:180:25:20

The sheep are kept behind the fence

0:25:230:25:25

and buyers get a feel for how the pup behaves around them.

0:25:250:25:29

Come by. Come by.

0:25:310:25:34

Buying a young sheepdog is a risk, though.

0:25:340:25:36

It could turn out to be a champion or a dud.

0:25:360:25:39

-Lay down.

-Seven months old.

0:25:390:25:43

This is Meg.

0:25:430:25:45

Meg is one of the dogs that Osian has his eye on,

0:25:450:25:49

but auctioneer Glyn tries to start the bidding high at 1,000 guineas,

0:25:490:25:53

and that's Osian's upper limit.

0:25:530:25:55

Who's got 1,000? 800, start me. 800 away.

0:25:550:25:58

But thanks to the rain,

0:25:580:26:00

it's a buyer's market today as there are fewer people here to bid.

0:26:000:26:04

500. Three, with me.

0:26:050:26:07

And Glyn has to drop down and start the bidding at 300 guineas,

0:26:070:26:11

so Osian grabs his chance.

0:26:110:26:13

Who's got 300?

0:26:130:26:14

300 I'm bid.

0:26:140:26:16

400. 400 I'm bid.

0:26:160:26:21

450 me. 500. 500, bid.

0:26:210:26:25

And it looks like his careful research is paying off.

0:26:250:26:28

If anyone else has spotted the potential of Meg,

0:26:290:26:33

they're not bidding.

0:26:330:26:35

I'm going to sell at 600 guineas. Thank you.

0:26:350:26:39

Osian bags a bargain.

0:26:390:26:40

His maximum budget was £1,000,

0:26:420:26:44

but he got the dog he wanted for just over 600.

0:26:440:26:48

-Thank you very much, Alan.

-Thank you very much.

0:26:480:26:52

It looks like the weather has done Osian a huge favour.

0:26:550:26:58

I think what happened here today is a bit of a rarity,

0:27:000:27:04

the fact that I had her in mind.

0:27:040:27:06

I've come away with a very good price, so I'm happy, very happy,

0:27:060:27:10

but, like I said, it doesn't usually happen like that.

0:27:100:27:12

Normally, you just come, hope for the best and see what happens,

0:27:120:27:15

see what pops up.

0:27:150:27:16

47, 47, 48, 48.

0:27:160:27:20

48. Is it going to get there, sir?

0:27:200:27:24

48, worth every penny and more.

0:27:240:27:27

One for me, Keith, please.

0:27:290:27:31

-Sugar in a coffee?

-Yes.

0:27:310:27:32

After a surprising success with his first dog, Jim,

0:27:330:27:37

Emrys is hoping for an even bigger pay-out on his second dog, Ross.

0:27:370:27:41

I'm hoping that Ross will take it all in his stride,

0:27:420:27:46

come hell or high water.

0:27:460:27:47

For the last three months,

0:27:470:27:49

they've been training hard, and Emrys has his sights on £3,000.

0:27:490:27:53

Oh, he's here.

0:27:560:27:58

And this is Mr Emrys Jones and the dog is here.

0:27:580:28:02

Very friendly dog, as well.

0:28:020:28:04

There we are, he thinks the world of him.

0:28:050:28:07

So, this is lot number 48, which is Emrys Jones with Ross.

0:28:070:28:13

Who's going off quickly, 3,000?

0:28:160:28:18

2,000?

0:28:180:28:20

1,000 guineas, low start.

0:28:200:28:23

A low start means it's a long way to go to hit Emrys's target.

0:28:230:28:27

1,000 bid, 1,000, 1,100, 12, 13.

0:28:270:28:32

14. 1,400 bid.

0:28:320:28:35

Bids are slowly going up,

0:28:350:28:38

but Ross is off his game and fails to respond to Emrys's instructions.

0:28:380:28:42

1,800 bid. Have you all done?

0:28:420:28:44

No mistake at 1,800 guineas.

0:28:440:28:47

Emrys won't accept 1,800.

0:28:490:28:52

No, I don't blame him either.

0:28:520:28:53

The weather's worsening and with the demo over, the bidding has stalled.

0:28:560:29:00

Auctioneer Glyn tries to drag the price back up.

0:29:020:29:05

23, 24, 2,450.

0:29:050:29:08

25. 2,500

0:29:080:29:13

to go over the net. 2,005. All done.

0:29:130:29:16

2,500 guineas, Emrys.

0:29:160:29:20

Emrys signals that he still wants more.

0:29:200:29:23

Suddenly, there's a last-minute surge of interest.

0:29:230:29:26

27. 2,700 guineas. I'm selling.

0:29:260:29:29

2,700.

0:29:290:29:31

Goes to Scotland.

0:29:310:29:34

Thank you. 2,700. Thank you, sir. There we are.

0:29:340:29:37

On we go to the next.

0:29:370:29:39

So, Ross sells for over £2,800,

0:29:390:29:43

only slightly less than Emrys was hoping for.

0:29:430:29:46

I think he could have done a little bit better.

0:29:480:29:50

He decided to not listen, so all in all, not bad,

0:29:500:29:55

considering the weather's so, so bad, I'm really pleased.

0:29:550:29:59

There are a staggering 33 million sheep in Britain.

0:30:040:30:08

Our little island is one of Europe's biggest sheep producers and

0:30:080:30:12

sheep are worth over 1 billion to our economy every year,

0:30:120:30:16

so it's no surprise that sheepdogs are in seriously high demand.

0:30:160:30:20

For auctioneer Glyn, Welsh sheepdogs are at the top of the tree.

0:30:200:30:24

Wales have always been ahead of the game

0:30:270:30:29

as far as sheepdogs are concerned

0:30:290:30:31

and this is why so many people from all over the world

0:30:310:30:34

are looking for a Welsh sheepdog.

0:30:340:30:36

And I'm selling away, all finished, all done at 4,800.

0:30:360:30:41

Today, the Bala Sheepdog Auction

0:30:410:30:44

attracts buyers from all over the world.

0:30:440:30:46

She sold well...to Belgium, so that's a bonus as well.

0:30:460:30:51

My dog is going abroad.

0:30:510:30:53

We have got somebody from Iceland,

0:30:530:30:55

we've got somebody from Belgium and we've got somebody from America

0:30:550:30:58

showing interest in some of the dogs.

0:30:580:31:00

24 bid.

0:31:000:31:02

2,400 bid.

0:31:030:31:04

A bit of phone bidding isn't unheard of at Bala

0:31:070:31:10

and like all the bidding here, it's pretty subtle.

0:31:100:31:13

Veteran seller Doug Lambie has some helpful insight into how it's done.

0:31:140:31:19

And he's been asked by his friend to bid on his behalf.

0:31:190:31:22

I got a phone call this morning from a friend of mine who the weather had

0:31:220:31:26

put off. He's up in Aberdeenshire.

0:31:260:31:28

So it's over to Doug to see if he can secure a female sheepdog, Jan.

0:31:290:31:34

As she needs a bit of training, bidding starts at 1,300 guineas.

0:31:340:31:39

13, 1,300. 1,400 bid.

0:31:390:31:43

1,500. 1,600 bid. 1,700 on the phone.

0:31:430:31:48

At 1,700 bid...

0:31:480:31:49

Like many bidders,

0:31:490:31:50

Doug prefers to keep his bidding as low key as possible.

0:31:500:31:53

Bidding's very easy. You have to sort of make eye contact before

0:31:550:31:58

you start and then they won't miss you after that,

0:31:580:32:00

-you don't have to worry about that.

-2,000, 2,000, 2,000 only.

0:32:000:32:05

2,000 bid, she's stylish.

0:32:050:32:08

2,100 on the nail.

0:32:080:32:09

At 21 bid.

0:32:090:32:12

2,200. 2,200. At 2,200 guineas.

0:32:120:32:18

At 2,200. All yours, sir.

0:32:180:32:22

Yes, we got her, Walt.

0:32:220:32:23

Everyone tries to keep it quite discreet, what they're doing.

0:32:250:32:28

Don't want to share their business with everybody else.

0:32:280:32:30

You don't want to be showing off,

0:32:300:32:32

to be looking like you want to spend a lot of money.

0:32:320:32:34

Just try to keep it as quiet, as calm as you can,

0:32:340:32:36

but the auctioneers are that sharp that you don't have to do much,

0:32:360:32:38

and they're on it. So a lot of people wink or just twitch,

0:32:380:32:41

whichever's easiest.

0:32:410:32:42

Bid spotting is certainly a skill.

0:32:420:32:45

Your furthest buyer might be something like

0:32:470:32:51

maybe half a mile away and they'll sit in Land Rovers

0:32:510:32:54

and they'll hoot as a bid or they'll wave a catalogue,

0:32:540:32:58

so when the weather is...

0:32:580:33:00

..the rain and wind's blowing into your eyes, sort of thing,

0:33:000:33:03

it's quite difficult to keep concentrating

0:33:030:33:05

with finding the bids, really.

0:33:050:33:07

Seller Dewi Williams is hoping the bids will come flooding in.

0:33:230:33:27

As long as the rain doesn't get in the way.

0:33:290:33:31

Very nervous. The biggest thing I'm worried about

0:33:310:33:34

is that she doesn't perform.

0:33:340:33:36

You know, that would be the worst scenario.

0:33:360:33:40

So, yes, been very nervous all night, really.

0:33:400:33:43

Farmer Dewi was originally a stonemason

0:33:520:33:54

but bought his smallholding ten years ago in Gwynedd, Snowdonia.

0:33:540:33:58

There was always a dream to get to farming.

0:34:010:34:03

Met the wife and she had the same dream as mine, to be able to farm,

0:34:050:34:09

so we both worked pretty hard to save up to buy some land

0:34:090:34:14

and so now, getting to my half a century,

0:34:140:34:20

I'm starting to settle down into the farming life now.

0:34:200:34:24

It doesn't fit very well, though, but there you go.

0:34:280:34:31

But it's a hard life.

0:34:310:34:33

Farmers like Dewi rely on selling their livestock,

0:34:330:34:35

and in tough economic times, it's much harder to make a decent living.

0:34:350:34:39

With the sheep, the prices of lamb has gone down so terribly now,

0:34:410:34:45

it's not enough to put the food on the table for the children,

0:34:450:34:49

so you've got to go out and do a bit of work

0:34:490:34:52

and the wife works as well, of course.

0:34:520:34:54

Good girl. Come on. So the sheepdogs,

0:34:560:34:58

when you sell a couple of sheepdogs every year,

0:34:580:35:01

it just subsidises everything else, really,

0:35:010:35:04

to help us with getting on with things.

0:35:040:35:07

Lie down.

0:35:070:35:09

But to make a good sale at Bala,

0:35:090:35:11

training and preparation is everything.

0:35:110:35:14

Dewi has been working hard for the past eight months

0:35:140:35:17

and he has high hopes for selling his two-year-old sheepdog, Jess.

0:35:170:35:22

It's been pretty... In theory at least, she's been easy to deal with.

0:35:220:35:28

She puts a bit of pressure on the sheep,

0:35:280:35:30

so it's best just to stop her.

0:35:300:35:31

Lie down, lie down.

0:35:310:35:33

Just to stop her. Lie down.

0:35:330:35:34

Lie down.

0:35:350:35:36

She takes the command pretty well.

0:35:390:35:41

Stand. Lie down. Lie down.

0:35:430:35:44

She's come along really nicely but she's just a bit timid and a bit shy

0:35:470:35:52

with other people around.

0:35:520:35:54

But hopefully, you know,

0:35:540:35:55

she's performed quite well recently in the company of people,

0:35:550:35:59

so I'm hoping she'll do all right.

0:35:590:36:02

The price that I wish to get would be over £1,000,

0:36:040:36:08

but it's a bit of a pie in the sky, really, with a sheepdog auction.

0:36:080:36:13

You never know.

0:36:130:36:15

If you've got two interested in her, then the price will go up.

0:36:150:36:18

Lie down, lie down.

0:36:180:36:20

Lie down.

0:36:200:36:21

But it's only his third year of sheepdog auctions and it's as

0:36:210:36:24

much about Dewi being on trial as it is Jess.

0:36:240:36:28

One mistake could cost them big time.

0:36:280:36:30

You need the temperament

0:36:300:36:33

and there's a lot of people around that's got a lot better temperament

0:36:330:36:36

than I have... Come by.

0:36:360:36:38

..to train the dogs,

0:36:380:36:39

and the knowledge of how a dog is thinking, so it's a learning curve,

0:36:390:36:43

a big learning curve for me as well.

0:36:430:36:45

Come by. Come by.

0:36:450:36:47

Dewi may be inexperienced, but he's got great pedigree.

0:36:490:36:53

His grandfather, John Jones,

0:36:530:36:55

was one of the most-respected sheepdog breeders in the UK.

0:36:550:36:58

He was pretty well known throughout the country

0:36:580:37:02

during the '40s and '50s and '60s, really.

0:37:020:37:05

I actually talk with people now and they remember him on the field,

0:37:050:37:09

you know, competing on the field.

0:37:090:37:10

And the apple doesn't fall far from the tree,

0:37:120:37:14

as Dewi wants to reignite this honoured family tradition,

0:37:140:37:18

a passion that his son Goronwy also shares.

0:37:180:37:22

I've been interested in sheepdogs since about three years

0:37:220:37:25

because my dad bought me a dog called Jay

0:37:250:37:27

and then I just increased it on until now

0:37:270:37:30

and I'm trying to do a little bit of trials now.

0:37:300:37:33

My grandfather won his first sheepdog trials

0:37:330:37:35

when he was 12 years old and hopefully Goronwy, my son,

0:37:350:37:39

can carry on with that.

0:37:390:37:40

So, just like Emrys and Osian, it's a father-and-son affair.

0:37:400:37:46

What do you think we'll get for Jess, do you think?

0:37:460:37:48

Well, I'd like 1,500 or 2,000,

0:37:480:37:51

and I'll be very disappointed if she goes for less than that.

0:37:510:37:54

I'd be very happy if we can get that.

0:37:540:37:56

If we can get 2,000, we'll be very happy.

0:37:560:37:59

Goronwy may be being overly optimistic with that price,

0:37:590:38:03

but there's so much more than money at stake.

0:38:030:38:05

This is about Dewi's dreams and only the auction can reveal if sheepdog

0:38:050:38:10

training really is in their blood.

0:38:100:38:12

The auction is about five hours in

0:38:270:38:29

but no-one's letting the rain spoil anything.

0:38:290:38:33

Last shout, then, at 5,800, 5,800.

0:38:330:38:36

The top price of the day so far is £5,800, a healthy sum.

0:38:360:38:41

All yours, then, at 5,800, lucky man, thank you very much.

0:38:410:38:45

Big prices aren't comforting newcomer Dewi, though,

0:38:550:38:58

and as their big moment approaches,

0:38:580:39:00

trainer and dog are feeling the pressure.

0:39:000:39:03

I just hope that she'll do well on the field.

0:39:030:39:07

She's not used to a lot of people at home.

0:39:070:39:10

It's only me and the dog and the children.

0:39:100:39:12

Now, being in a lot of people, it's new for her, you know.

0:39:120:39:15

I'll try not to do anything different to the usual on the field,

0:39:180:39:23

but, you know, the excitement of it all gets to you, to me,

0:39:230:39:29

and probably to the dog as well.

0:39:290:39:30

And on we go, please, to Lot 59.

0:39:320:39:35

Dewi needs Jess to sell for at least £1,000, and in a place where his

0:39:400:39:45

grandfather's name is known, his reputation is on the line, too.

0:39:450:39:49

It's time for Dewi to show everyone what he's made of.

0:39:530:39:56

Away quickly. 500, get me started, sir.

0:39:590:40:03

500. 200.

0:40:030:40:05

250.

0:40:050:40:07

Bidding starts low, though, at 250 guineas.

0:40:070:40:11

She'll do well in the right hands, sir. 400 it will be.

0:40:110:40:16

And it's taking a while to get going.

0:40:160:40:19

450. 500, with a hat.

0:40:190:40:23

600. 600.

0:40:230:40:26

Dewi is offered 600 guineas.

0:40:260:40:28

What do we do, sir?

0:40:280:40:30

600.

0:40:300:40:31

No, he says, I'm afraid, at 600. He knows what he's got, sir.

0:40:320:40:37

-Lie down. Come by.

-At 600 and I'm bid.

0:40:370:40:42

He holds his nerve and the prices start to rise.

0:40:420:40:46

850, 900. 950.

0:40:460:40:51

1,000. 1,050. 1,100. 1,150. 1,200

0:40:510:40:57

I'm bid. Yes, sir.

0:40:570:41:00

At 1,250. 1,300.

0:41:000:41:02

On the market. The hammer's up then, are we all done then?

0:41:020:41:05

I'm selling at 1,300 guineas.

0:41:050:41:07

At 1,300, sir.

0:41:070:41:10

Jess is sold for over £1,300,

0:41:100:41:14

proving Dewi's got what it takes to raise a great sheepdog.

0:41:140:41:17

My grandfather would have been... He would have enjoyed being here,

0:41:280:41:31

I'm sure. It's been quite stressful for me, I think.

0:41:310:41:34

But, saying that, it was a good price.

0:41:340:41:36

I'm happy with that.

0:41:360:41:38

It's a learning curve. We've been in this for about two years,

0:41:380:41:41

so it's very, you know, early days for me.

0:41:410:41:45

You need to get your reputation up by selling a dog.

0:41:450:41:50

55 dogs, £100,000 and an awful lot of rain later,

0:41:500:41:56

this year's autumn Bala sheepdog sale is over.

0:41:560:41:59

We are wet and...

0:41:590:42:01

-Cold.

-We are cold.

0:42:010:42:03

But I'll tell you one thing, we've enjoyed it, haven't we, El?

0:42:030:42:06

-Yeah, we have, yeah.

-Yes, it's been good, and Bala is a lovely place to

0:42:060:42:09

come to, even when it's wet like this.

0:42:090:42:11

Really nice. Tonight, I'm going for a pint. Doing a concert.

0:42:110:42:13

I don't know what you're doing, El.

0:42:130:42:15

-Yeah, I'll be having a pint, but no concert.

-No concert, there we are.

0:42:150:42:18

Osian's delighted with Meg,

0:42:210:42:23

who is already showing great potential as a working farm dog.

0:42:230:42:27

Emrys is busy training his next two champions...

0:42:300:42:34

..a younger dog, Nell,

0:42:340:42:37

and the impressively athletic Mist.

0:42:370:42:39

And Dewi is already lining up his next hope

0:42:420:42:45

for the Bala spring sale in six months' time.

0:42:450:42:47

Snowdonia in north Wales - 800 square miles of spectacular mountains and coastline - is home to one of the UK's most important sheepdog auctions - the Bala Autumn sale.

Nearly 80 dogs are on sale today, to buyers from all over the UK and beyond. With 33 million sheep in Britain, good sheepdogs are always in demand, and can sell for as much as £10,000. But today, auctioneers Glyn Owens and Elfor Morris have to battle atrocious weather. Seller Emrys Jones is a veteran of the sale. With a 25-acre smallholding, training and selling sheepdogs is an important part of his business. He hopes to get well over £2,000 for each of his dogs - Jim and Ross - at auction. His son Osian is buying today. The 26-year-old engineer who recently returned home after travelling abroad, is helping his dad with the business and hoping to buy a young dog of his own at the auction, to train up and sell later. Seller Dewi Williams also needs to supplement the income from his small farm. He's been training sheepdog Jess for eight months, and he and son Goronwy have high hopes. But how will the terrible weather affect them all?