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Know Your Sheep Breeds
Know Your Sheep Breeds
Two pages are dedicated to each sheep, the left being a full page high-quality picture and the right giving a brief but comprehensive description of the appearance, history and uses of each sheep.
Only the size of a postcard, the book fits perfectly into a rucksack or pocket so is ideal for the interested rambler who is keen to discover more about the flock fleeing from him at the time. Clear color photographs taken of sheep 'straight from the field' illustrate the immense diversity within this species.
Contents 1. Beulah Speckled Face2. Blackface3. Black Welsh Mountain4. Bluefaced Leicester5. Border Leicester6. Cheviot7. Clun Forest8. Dalesbred9. Dartmoor10. Derbyshire Gritstone11. Devon Closewool12. Devon and Cornwall Longwool13. Dorset Down14. Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset15. Exmoor Horn16. Hampshire Down17. Herdwick18. Jacob19. Kerry Hill20. Leicester Longwool21. Lincoln Longwool22. Llanwenog23. Lleyn24. Lonk25. Masham26. North Country Cheviot27. Oxford Down28. Hill Radnor29. Romney30. Rough Fell31. Ryeland32. Shetland33. Shropshire34. Southdown35. Suffolk36. Swaledale37. Teeswater38. Welsh Mountain Badger Face Torddu39. Welsh Mountain Badger Face Torwen40. Wensleydale41. Whiteface Dartmoor
104mm 155mm paperback
Herdwicks are an impressive breed of sheep. Beneath that brown, raggedy unkempt fleece lives one of the toughest sheep in the country. The Herdwick came with the Norsemen, took to the hills of the Lake District and has lived there ever since, nibbling the fells, getting sufficient sustenance from the ever-moist grass to survive throughout the year. It doesn’t need the additional and supplementary feeds that lesser sheep find so necessary.
The Herdwick knows its country, knows where it belongs and doesn’t stray from its native turf.
It’s a strong-boned animal. A good ram can weigh up to 200 pounds and a ewe might be fifty pounds lighter and a further five pounds lighter after it has been shorn of its coarse coat.
The wool, of course, is too coarse for everyday use, but blends well with other softer wools to make a good yarn for hand knitting. And those sweet little black-faced lambs you see staggering and gambolling on the fells in the spring will provide some of the juiciest and most succulent meat of all.
The Herdwick can’t compete with other sheep on its yield of wool. It is easily out-classed by the tight-white curls of the Greyface Dartmoor. Their fleeces can weigh up to 30 pounds. The wool is known as Lustre Longwool and is used in blankets carpets and cloth.
Other heavy clippers are not in the same class. The Border Leicester is an odd looking creature with a curving back and a domed forehead, “with ears of a good length, carried at an alert angle”. It can manage only fifteen to twenty pounds. A Cotswold Shearling weighs in at twenty pounds as well, but her lustrous eyes peep out from behind a flattering uneven fringe.
The Dorset Down is a compact, sturdy, stolid-looking animal with a tight fleece and a bare black face. It produces some of the best meat.
Even the long wool Wensleydale, which looks like a clothes-horse covered with string, only manages thirteen to twenty pounds of wool. It is supposed to have a distinctive “deep-blue head and ears, which should be clean except for a well-developed forelock of hair, usually referred to as the ‘topping’”
By contrast the Bluefaced Leicester looks almost bald. It struggles to produce four pounds of wool, but then it is expected that “the wool is tightly purled, fine and open cleanly to the skin”.
All these proud and wonderful sheep, exquisitely preened, have been persuaded to pose against a royal purple back-cloth. It is easy to see why they look so superior when they are being favoured with the camera of leading fashion photographer Paul Farnham.
Paul has joined Kathryn Dun, a vet and an expert on showing sheep, to provide a lavish, detailed guide to the finer points of our woolly friends.
Jack Byard has a different approach. He gets out there on the farm. His sheep are to be seen going about their never-ending work of nibbling grass, putting on weight, and growing wool. And he’s not afraid of catching them off their guard. Standing alongside a clump of daffodils a concerned Romney ewe is shown leaning protectively over her placid lamb. Two Ryeland lambs look as though they are venturing out on the hillside for the first time alone.
Books and sheep, and books on sheep, it seems, come in all shapes and sizes.
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