The first hint the farmer might be on the look out for a new sheep breed came in 2017 when we were in Belgium for the Passchendaele commemoration.
While our focus was on the tragic events of New Zealand's darkest day in World War I, we also found ourselves hanging over a fence studying some creatures which, while clearly sheep, had different design features from those we'd encountered at home, namely fat backsides and piggy faces.
It had been the farm manager's idea that we find some and we didn't need to go out of our way. In Belgium, small farms stocked with handsome Belgian Blue cattle, sheep and impossibly glossy horses are studded between small villages.
The animals grazed in emerald green paddocks as we drove along such narrow roads we'd have assumed they were private had our GPS not insisted otherwise.
When the farmer spotted Beltex sheep, a breed which had just made its way to New Zealand, we took several photos for the farm manager. Their distinguishing features are a high meat yield and large eye fillet.
Six or so months later, the manager attended the sale of the first crop of Beltex rams in Canterbury. He returned home with a somewhat startled ram on the back of the ute; it had endured a mammoth journey.
The manager named him Jock after Jock Allison, one of the team which had brought the double-muscled Texel breed, with Belgian ancestry, into the country.
As well as timid and confused, Jock also looked adorable and so small we wondered whether he'd be up to being a dad. Turns out he soon grasped the intricacies of his task and his first crop of ram lambs will soon be ready to send his genes to future generations.
There is a sad aspect to this. Earlier this year, rogue dogs twice attacked sheep on our farm and in their second visit left dear little Jock and six of his young progeny ravaged beyond repair.
By then, Jock had established himself as a strong character. He had assumed supremacy in the flock which by then included two more Beltex rams from the 2019 Canterbury sale.
Quite how this inaugural sale, of Beltex/cross rams in the North Island, will play out is unknown.
Last Monday stock agents visited to check out the rams and had no idea they were the first guests to be hosted in the new five-bay shed. They also, the farmer told me later, had no idea how the rams would fare at the Wellsford sale in November.
"What are you all going to sit on?" I asked the farmer as we assembled cups and cake for morning tea with the stock agents.
"We're got stools and a couple of couches."
"That cream couch is revolting," I replied. "It looks like bulls and dogs lie on it."
"Well, dogs do lie on it," he replied and indeed, just before I penned this, as we all met to discuss our upcoming "Meet the Beltex" day for farmers, Tess the long-haired huntaway lolled on the aged leather-look couch as if it was hers alone.
It still hadn't been washed. But surely that will change by next Friday when all sorts of finishing touches will be done and dusted.
Among them will be the macrocarpa bench top in the shed kitchen. Right now an array of seashells is ready to be embedded in resin in a fissure in the wood – just like benches in any other farm shed.
We have no clue how many people will show up but, in a happy accident, stumbled upon an Annabelle Langbein pan bagna recipe (that's French for sandwich and, yes, flash – if just because of its name – for a shed snack) that can be frozen if the worst happens and the only ones there are just us and the sheep. And the dogs.