Saturday, 22 April 2017

S is for Sheep ...




The Rare Breeds Society Trust registers pedigree animals bred and living in the UK, including some semi-feral populations …
Sheep in a Summer Landscape by
Thomas Sidney Cooper - who is known for his
cattle paintings ... see my C


… they monitor the threat from disease and work to reduce geographical isolation of breeds, while if necessary relocating animals away from any threats.


There are 24 Sheep breeds listed in a Watchlist status … ranging from: 


Critical (very few left:), 
Endangered (a few more, but not many), 
Vulnerable (says it all), 
At Risk (slightly better), 
Minority (improving) ….



British Postal Stamps issued 2012 - showing:
Welsh Mountain Badger Face; Dalesbred; Jacob;
Suffolk; Soay and Leicester Long Wool

Their website gives numbers etc … but the priority is to get each breed up to viable numbers so that in-breeding and genetic erosion can be eliminated: thus the breed is improved and thus conserved.



The Isle of Man - the southernmost
red island - detail of islands
in a historical sense circa 1100 AD
"The Kingdom of the Isles"


I show a few of the breeds here and through the A-Z have mentioned one or two others … while more may be seen at the RBST (Sheep) site …


Some of our many (over 6,000) smaller islands can be used for flocks of sheep, where they can be better protected from disease.



Balwens in the snow



Balwen Welsh Mountain sheep – the name comes from the Welsh elements bal, “blaze”, and wen “white” …





The River Tywi (Towy)
They come from one small area of Wales – the Tywi valley .. and were particularly badly hit in the severe British winter of 1946/7.  With some outcrossing with other types of Welsh Mountain sheep their numbers are increasing …





Manx Loaghtan on Jersey
Manx Loaghtan – an Isle of Mann breed … which appears at rare breed farms on the mainland, and has been introduced into Jersey – as it is believed to be the closest surviving relative of the now extinct Jersey Sheep.



Red-billed Chough


Interestingly it appears there is a link between the Manx Loaghtan breed and the ability of the Chough to thrive on its coastland sites …




Devon and Cornwall Longwool


Devon and Cornwall Longwool - the breed is relatively local and there are few flocks outside of the South West.



Dorset Horn

Dorset Horn - the sheep of Dorset were known for their unusual ability to breed out of season as far back as the 17th century.

The breed’s prolificacy and capacity for lambing all year round, makes it easier to breed flock replacements and build a closed flock …



Wensleydale

Wensleydale – it has a grey blue face … with long “Rastafarian” ringlet-like locks of wool … this is acknowledged as the finest lustre long wool in the world …



Wensleydale showing its long fleece


The fleece from a purebred sheep is considered 'kemp' free and curled or purled on out to the end. 



Kemp is generally chalky-white, brittle, weak fibres – which are often detached from the skin … and thus are not desirable at all in a fleece.




Sheep are useful in many ways … for food as lambs, or hoggets (one to two year olds),  milk for yoghurt or cheese, their wool for clothes, rugs etc …

The Leafy Spurge - an invasive


… they are effective conservationists – eating invasive grasses over native species.




Herdwick Sheep in the Lake District form a vital part of that landscape ... "Herdwyk" means sheep pasture - while the term "hefting" means the lambs learn from their mothers where to graze ... which removes the need for fencing.



Herdwicks grazing on the Cumbrian
Fells

Beatrix Potter bequeathed 4,000 acres so that Herdwicks could continue to roam and graze the Fells.




William Holman Hunt (1790 - 1864)
"Our English Coasts" (1852)
[Strayed Sheep]


They are raised in relatively natural surroundings … without the need to feed them high-concentration grain feed as with other animals.






Sheep therefore offer different husbandry methods … and as is noted … any animal is not a cog in the machine of profitability it is a living creature that demands our understanding and should receive our understanding and sympathy … being bred to further the type of genetic needs – which benefit us all … 


With a proverbial 'black sheep' in their
midst - this is in Spain
That is S for Sheep in early Spring with lambs going towards Summer … Some Sheep are in Severe Survival circumstances … but the Survival Trust will do their best to ensure all breeds Survive to provide us with Sufficient Stock to Secure these native breeds … that is S for Sheep from Aspects of British County Breeds …



Counties with the letter S ...
(note some counties have been retired!, or amended over historical local government ... but some I've included)
England: Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex
Northern Ireland: None
Scotland: Selkirkshire, Shetland, Stirlingshire, Sutherland
Wales: South Glamorgan


However - to make sure I comply and answer questions (which I'll do more of once the A-Z is over) - and be the proper blogger I be ... Jacob's Sheep raised their head ... the Jacob is not a Rare Breed in this context ... 


A Jacob Ram
They originated in the Middle East and are believed to be the oldest breed in the world – being mentioned in the Old Testament Book of Genesis.

The Moors took them to the Iberian Peninsula in the 8thC AD; eventually they were imported here in Elizabethan times as an ornament for country house parks!


They are now a mainstream British breed … more can be found here at the Jacob Sheep Society site … 



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

52 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Baaaa is what I have to say to your previous commentator.
Love your sheep post. So many different varieties. Vulnerable is such am emotive and dreadful term, and to learn that it is the the third step away from extinction is scary. Very, very scary.

Liz A. said...

Sheep mean wool. Wool is in yarn. So, I'm all for preserving the sheep. (I know, I'm a silly knitter.)

Rhodesia said...

A great post Hilary, well done. You research has come up with many interesting facts. One of the bloggers I follow down South in France spins her own wool from their sheep. Bet they are both lovely and warm in the winter woolies. Have a good weekend Diane

Nilanjana Bose said...

So true about them not being a cog in the machine of profits!

Sheep for me mean wool...more than the meat. So found the bit about kemp super interesting. Thanks.
Best
Nila
Madly-in-Verse

bookworm said...

Again, loving your A to Z theme. What beautiful animals. I love to crochet, and my favorite yarn is a wool blend. I learned to crochet, 45 years ago, when wool warn was a lot more common. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to have reactions here in the States to the wool, but I am one of the fortunate ones who do not. The yarn I use is imported (I know, shame on me). The Unknown Journey Ahead agingonthespectrum.blogspot.com

Bob said...

You have some funny-looking sheep over there, H. Give me a Merino, anytime. Haha.

Jz said...

I would never have thought this possible but I think I just fell in love with a sheep!
That Devon and Cornwall Longwool just completely won my heart.
(I did grow up in the 1960's, after all...)
Thanks, Hilary. :-)

Bob Scotney said...

In my last years at school I had a job baling fleeces with Central Wool Growers. This meant I had extremely close contact with fleeces from a range of sheep. What struck me was the extreme weight it seemed of the fleeces from the Lincoln Longwool. My hands have never been so soft since after exposure to the lanolin in fleeces. Less glamorous was the result of treading down in bales the dags, the assorted clippings from around the sheeps' back ends.

FinnBadger said...

Great post. Wow, that Jacob ram is a handsome devil. And I did not know that sheep tend to graze invasive over native plants - that's amazing.

https://envelope100.blogspot.com/2017/04/naked-mail-art.html

Annalisa Crawford said...

I never realised the breeds were so regional. I'll have to look out for our locals!

Jo said...

I wonder how the Dorset Horn can see where it is going? Another very interesting post Hilary. Once again I had no idea there were so many different breeds of sheep. I am glad they are being "looked after" these days. When does a hogget become mutton?

Nick Wilford said...

I tend to think of sheep as being all the same but that is clearly far from the case. Great locks on that Wensleydale!

Andrea Ostapovitch said...

What incredibly beautiful animals. The horns on the Dorset are just incredible, and theta long fleece makes me want to run my fingers through it. It is wonderful to know that these breeds are being preserved.
Hoping you enjoy your day,
Andrea

Keith's Ramblings said...

The Wensleydale dreadlocks are most impressive> Feta is one of my absolute favourite cheeses - one of best uses for sheep's milk! Baaa.

Amble Bay's fabulous shops!

Deborah Weber said...

This series is so much fun - I'm learning so much. I did a little sheep research awhile ago when I bought some yarn spun from a Coopworth sheep and wanted to see what they looked like. But seeing the variety from your photos really impressed me. I love those Dorset horns. If I had long hair I must try to style it like that. :-)

Sara C. Snider said...

So many beautiful sheep! Those curled horns on the Dorset Horn are fantastic.

A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

Emily Bloomquist said...

What good work it sounds like the Rare Breeds Society Trust is doing. Having more than 6000 islands is such a nice benefit when preserving a breed and keeping it safe. Is there threat of flooding on any of the islands where the sheep are living?

Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Sunsets near the equator

troutbirder said...

Fascinating post on an amazing subject. I had no idea of so many breeds...:)

Botanist said...

Who knew there was so much to know about sheep? I did a couple of Duke of Edinburgh expeditions in the Lake District and well remember the sheep roaming free.

Trudy said...

I love the photo with the proverbial black sheep in the midst! I've known a few of those.

The Jacob Ram seems so unusual... I've never seen one like that. I think my favorite from this post is the Dorset Horn.

Trudy @ Reel Focus
Food in Film: S’mores

mocktail mommies said...

My knowledge about sheep was limited to nursery rhyme, Baa Baa black sheep... This very informative boost by you, have enlightened me a lot. Thanks for sharing!!!
----------------------------------------------------------
Anagha from Team MocktailMommies
Collage Of Life

Kim Blades said...

Very interesting post Hilary. I strange to think of sheep as being vulnerable or endangered, but of course the wild variety will be because of man's interference. Hopefully a more positive kind of interference by man will save them.

Kim Blades said...

Very interesting post. I hope a more positive intervention by mankind on this and other wild animal species behalf, will save them all from being totally wiped out.

Lenny Lee said...

wow! i never knew there were soooo many breeds of sheep and different types of wool. to me a sheep was just a sheep and wool was just wool. now i know that's not so. it's cool the RBST is making sure the different breeds increase and survive. i think hefting is cool. it's neat the sheep teach the young ones where to graze and then the farmer doesn't need to put up fences. another really cool and interesting post.

Carolyn Branch said...

Wow! So informative! I had no idea there were so many breeds of sheep. Twentyfour endangered species just in the UK - amazing. Here is central Missouri, USA, you can't drive down a country road without seeing a few sheep. They have all looked the same to me - I'll have to look closer.

Vinodini Iyer said...

This is such a comprehensive post on sheep. I find their faces so cute! I often wonder if I know all my animals properly after reading your posts. Never knew so many breeds in one animal.

Susan Scott said...

I'm also now in love with sheep as someone else said! I so enjoy your posts and people's responses to them! What a lovely story of Beatrix Potter donating all those hectares for the Herdwicks in the Fells. Thank you Hilary.

Jacqui Murray said...

How interesting. I'm as amazed by the complexity of the UK. Sad to say, I've never explored all of these islands as I'm doing now, with you.

Leslie Moon said...

Sheep are wonderful and great conversationalists - Well to children and mums.
As I read about breeds that once thrived and are now struggling each year I am glad for the few who take notice. I agree it is for the animal not for the price it brings in.

Enjoy Queen of Katwe it is very well done and I believe filmed in South Uganda so it is a close representation to the life in Uganda.

Cheers

Out on the prairie said...

I have raised them for a short time and always am learning new breeds.

sage said...

I've lived in sheep producing areas in the US for much of my adult life and they do not have nearly the variety as you have there. I'm glad they are trying to insure the survival of the rare breeds. I'm looking forward to spending sometime touring some of those Scottish islands this summer (at least Mull, Iona, Skye and Harris and Keith).

http://sagecoveredhills.blogspot.com/2017/04/s-is-for-summer-constellations-scorpius.html

Sue Bursztynski said...

Who would have thought sheep could be such a fascinating topic? Though, mind you, I have a friend who once kept two sheep in her back garden, as live lawnmowers. Their names were Killer and Lambo and they came when called. So I guess even sheep can be trained. That was fascinating in itself.

We have a lot of merinos here in Australia - they were imported for the wool industry, very successful, but alas, an introduced species doesn't do good for the environmental situation.

The Jacob ram is intriguing - I wonder if they were the kind of sheep that trickster figure Jacob bred so successfully and infuriated Laban with? "Oh, just give me the speckled ones, they're not very valuable..."

DMS said...

It is fascinating to learn more about sheep and to see the photos of them because they do have different looks. I have always thought they were cute! I had no idea how many breeds there were on the watchlist. Wow! Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – Baaa is a great descriptive word … what a good way of describing how rare these animals are … ‘vulnerable being an emotive and dreadful term’ – so many animals are now in the vulnerable range and some sheep as I noted here …

@ Liz – yes sheep for many mean wool (yarn) – you are an incredible knitter … it’s wonderful …

@ Diane – thanks I try and mix and match the information I post – I remember you mentioned your friend in the South of France and their sheep – from which she spins her own wool … I bet they are lovely and warm with their winter woollies …

@ Nila – yes, thank you re animals of any sort being a cog in the machine of profit … Sheep are wool for you … for others both … glad the ‘kemp’ info was of interest …

@ Bookworm – thanks so much re my A-Z theme. That’s wonderful you enjoy crocheting and have been doing it for many a year. You are lucky you can wear wool and don’t suffer from a reaction to it … I simply cannot wear wool and some other materials – I get used to mainly wearing cotton. Well you are pursuing your hobby (passionately, by the sound of it) – so enjoy the crocheting with the yarn that suits you …

@ Bob – thanks for stopping by – yes Merinos are a well-known breed – but there are plenty of them …

@ Jz – oh how lovely … the Devon and Cornwall will be thrilled – they are after my Cornish heart too … you’re lucky you’re a youngster!

@ Bob – gosh that must have been an interesting job to have had – better than working on a building site.

Thanks for adding these snippets of thoughts to the post – how soft your hands became from the exposure of the natural lanolin in fleeces. I imagine treading down the dags wasn’t such a great job … but fascinating reading for us …

@ Phillip – the Jacob ram, even though not a rare breed, is a handsome chap isn’t he … I didn’t know either that sheep tended to graze invasive plants, rather than native ones … but a useful grazing aspect …

@ Annalisa – ah well ... yes do look out for the Cornish breeds and West Country ones …

@ Jo – one wonders why so many animals develop the way they do – now scientists are trying to find out …

Lamb – Hoggett – Mutton … it seems to vary … lamb under one year, then hoggett for another year, then mutton … but in NZ it’s slightly different – lamb is exported as lamb until its two adult teeth have cut the gum – then it is mutton …

@ Nick – unfortunately how many of us don’t know our different breeds –I can see them when I visit a rare breeds’ show – but out in the fields … I wouldn’t know …

@ Andrea – they are extraordinary animals aren’t they. The horns are not an understatement … and certainly some of those fleeces deserve to have our fingers run through them …

@ Keith - the Wensleydale dreadlocks are impressive – I’ll agree there. I love feta too – especially the proper feta from sheep …

@ Deborah – delighted you’re enjoying the series and learning some new things. I hadn’t heard of a Coopworth sheep – but I see they’re mainly down under in New Zealand where they originated; there are so many breeds and I certainly didn’t write about them all … lovely comments thank you …

@ Sara – the curled horns are amazing aren’t they …

@ Emily – the RBST is an excellent organisation … but our islands certainly preserve the genetic base of some of these rare breeds.

The islands are often very rocky outcrops so rise up – stormy waves won’t help – but the animals can reach higher up, there’s not much shelter in some areas. Heavy snow fall on the mainland can be a major problem – with flocks being smothered, or major floods can occur … but it doesn’t happen often, and where is anyone’s guess …

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bill – thank you so much … lots more I didn’t cover …

@ Ian – yes I found it all rather daunting to write up. How interesting that you were on the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme in the Lake District … and saw the Herdwyk sheep –amazing breed …

@ Trudy – I felt I needed to put in the proverbial black sheep – yes there’s plenty of human ones around … The Jacob Ram is in by request … and that Dorset Horn definitely has some horns …

@ Anagha - good to meet you and thank you for calling in – I’m just glad your knowledge of sheep is broader now … beyond the nursery rhyme!

@ Kim – I’ve been amazed at how many Rare Breeds there are – and how many there are on the Watchlist set out as critical, endangered, vulnerable, at risk, minority … we all hope mankind will redeem himself in so many ways … including taking care of our Rare Breeds …

@ Lenny – lovely to see you – you’re right about so many varieties of sheep and thus wool. It’s good the RBST is doing its bit – we’re lucky to have the organisation.

Hefting is an interesting concept and I’m glad you picked up on that …

@ Carolyn – good to meet you … and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and will look at your various breeds of animals in central Missouri with more interest now …

@ Vinodini – it’s certainly not all that I could have given you on Sheep – but I hope I’ve kept it interesting and informative: the most important thing in writing an A-Z post …

@ Susan- yes the photos do draw you in don’t they … and Beatrix Potter was a forward thinking farmer, who loved her sheep and the Lake District area. I’m very lucky with all the comments I get with such pertinent remarks in them …

@ Jacqui – I’m glad I’m ‘sort of’ introducing you to some of our ways of life over – or at least broadening your view of our land … one day perhaps you can visit … let’s hope so.

@ Leslie – that’s good to know sheep have a range of conversations … for littlies with their mothers! Yes thankfully we have humans who care for nature and the land around us – it’s the value to the earth that’s important, not the money aspect …

Thanks re Queen of Katwe – I know the film society and the public will enjoy the film – it’s had excellent write ups – which you are confirming here …

@ Steve – you’ve had a variety of farm animals in your life time and your love of nature shows through …

@ Sage – I expect there are some breeds in the States that are rare – tucked away in quieter areas of the States. How wonderful you are visiting some of the Scottish islands this summer – I’ve never been that far north … we always went to Cornwall or the Lake District … so enjoy – what a treat ahead.

@ Sue – I know … I can reliably tell you when I was writing these posts up – I never thought I’d be really struggling with all the information I could have used. Love your friend’s name for her sheep when she kept them on her back lawn … saved mowing I guess … and yes animals will bond themselves as necessary …

I didn’t mention Merinos as they are an Australian breed … but also didn’t know about the challenge you have with them …

The Jacob – is considered the oldest breed in the world – and it is believed is the one mentioned in the Bible … so your reference to Laban and Jacob could well be correct …

@ Jess – good to see you … lots of interesting breeds we have here and I couldn’t not put many of them into the post. Yes it’s a shock that there are 24 breeds on the Watchlist …

Cheers everyone – thank you so much for your comments and thoughts here – it’s great to have this interaction with so many of you … Hilary

A Cuban In London said...

This is such an interesting post. I didn't know there were that many varieties of sheep, let alone that some were at risk. Thanks, another outstanding post.

Greetings from London.

Joanne said...

Wow. I admit I thought of sheep as sheep. Never knew about so many breeds and unique looks. You have broadened my horizons. The most sheep I ever saw at one time was in New Zealand. A sheep herder was guiding his across the road. We must have sat for an hour in the bus waiting. The sheep dogs were working hard!!

Heather M. Gardner said...

The horns are just amazing on these animals.
Thanks for the info!

Heather
Co-Host, 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
https://hmgardner.blogspot.com/

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I never knew there were so many breeds of sheep.

Isn't Wensleydale a type of cheese, too?

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

I had no idea there were so many breeds of sheep! Thanks for the info :-) Happy A-to-Z-ing.

Inger said...

I wouldn't eat their lambs, but I am grateful for their wool. And for coming to our mountain every spring to eat wild grasses and weeds and thus help with wild fire abatement. Thank you for another wonderful and informative post.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

The smile on the face of the Devon and Cornwall Longwool still has me smiling back. I know contented cows produce quality milk, so I would like to have a sweater knit from the wool of this sheep.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Wow I miss participating in the A-Z, but I can't think straight enough to do it. My sister has sheep and she sells the wool, so I've learned from her a bit. Your post was so interesting !

Claire Annette said...

I love sheep. We actually have many sheep herders moving their flocks around our area. It is lambing season - so sweet!
I recently read about Beatrix Potter working to make sure certain breeds were able to continue.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ ACIL – well I knew some of what I was writing about – but not in the depth of information that is out there … it’s been a learning curve …

@ Joanne – there are a lot of sheep in New Zealand … and they have similar breeds to ours. There’s a good source of genes in countries where over the centuries we’ve exported sheep …so we can tap into their stocks if absolutely necessary …

@ Heather – yes the Dorset’s horns are pretty amazing aren’t they …

@ Diane – I have to say when I started writing these posts – I’d no idea what information I’d come across … and yes Wensleydale cheese is produced in the Hawes area of North Yorkshire and has protected status now.

@ Ronel – there are quite a few aren’t there … considering I’ve only listed a few of the Rare Breeds …

@ Inger – I understand not eating the lambs … while their wool is really good to wear – though I can’t wear it. It is good that you have a flock coming through your area to eat the wild grasses and weeds helping with fire abatement. Glad you enjoyed it …

@ Gail – that smile is definitely there isn’t it – beguiling sheep! – well I’m sure a sweater could be forthcoming from a Devon and Cornwall Longwool fleece … but you’d need to fly over!

@ Teresa – it’s really good to see you pop up and see what’s going on – the A-Z is a good meeting place. It’s better to give yourself the break you need to get on with other things in your life. Fascinating to read your sister has sheep and sells the wool – I bet you’ve learnt from her.

@ Claire – yes northern hemisphere lambing season … Beatrix Potter was a force to be reckoned with … once her books had given her the security she needed, she turned her efforts to farming and preservation of life in the Lake District.

Thanks everyone so much – good to see you all … cheers Hilary

DeeDee said...

I had been for a trip to Kashmir in India and the sheep there were called Pashmi.
The Pashmina shawls are supposedly made out of that particular sheep's wool

A Peice Of My Life

Cynthia Rodrigues Manchekar said...

Just when I thought all sheep looked the same, you throw up a wealth of information, and make them so interesting.

Deniz Bevan said...

How wonderful of Beatrix Potter!

Birgit said...

That Dorset sheep is the Princess Leia of sheep:) I'm glad Potter gave her land to the sheep.

Sharon M Himsl said...

Wow, 24 Sheep breeds in UK alone. I like the side story that Beatrix Potter set aside grazing land :) So sweet!

"Female Scientists Before Our Time"
Shells–Tales–Sails

Michelle Wallace said...

Some strange-looking sheep over here...it's a wonder the Dorset Horn can see at all, it's eyes are almost covered. LOL

Sheep=wool=crochet...which I haven't done in a long time.
There's so much to do and very little time.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ DeeDee - the Pashmi wool is meant to be very special and how lovely you were able to visit ... I haven't looked into it or the breed of sheep used ...

@ Cynthia - I know ... well they are all very different aren't they - well I'm delighted sheep are now interesting!!!

@ Deniz - yes Beatrix Potter did an awful lot of good for our animals and landscape - bringing them all to life in her books with her delightful illustrations ...

@ Birgit - I know one wonders how it sees ... is Princess Leia the one who wears her hair in scrolls ... I see she is! Beatrix Potter was very far-sighted ...

@ Sharon - that's only the main breeds around today ... and you too appreciate Beatrix Potter being generous with her legacy ...

@ Michelle - there's usually a reason for the growth like this ... male supremacy?! Another crocheter ... well done - just wish I could wear wool - but no luck for my skin ...

Thanks so much for the extra comments - cheers Hilary