samedi 14 mars 2015


Took a  picture yesterday.

vendredi 6 juin 2014

Centuries Apart - Repost

With huge thanks to John Ushant a photo from his private family collection of his great grand mother. This photo was thought to be taken circa 1900 on the island of Ouessant. A tantalising glimpse into the history of the island. As was the tradition the sheep would be moved onto fresh grazing tied in pairs.

Over a hundred years later and photos taken by the lady in the photos' great grandson on the island where he lives still today.

The size type and colour are interesting, still some black is present even after all this time. Is the black of ouessant sheep truly recessive or is there some dominant black in the population?

Gone is any resemblance to the primitive north european short tailed breeds replaced by a commercial faster maturing heavier sheep more appealing to todays meat market.

samedi 4 janvier 2014

jeudi 26 décembre 2013

Christmas Knits

Well, Christmas  was quiet enough to get started on my next knitting project. The yarn is single ply from on my bobbin #5. I wanted to spin a woollen yarn and one that was relatively chunky. Ok I don't think I exactly succeeded on either count  but it is satisfying to have something to be able to knit up.

There is a way to go until my spinning skills are refined enough to produce a yarn that looks anything less than rustic but its all practice. The stitch I have chosen is designed to complement the textured yarn. A tutorial on how to knit yourself a scarf in bramble or trinity stitch  was all that was needed to get me started. This video makes it very easy to follow!Although mine doesn't have quite the same accomplished look to it :-)

I am hoping to add a little twist to my scarf to  release it  from the rather mundane but that all depends on whether I can produce something that is aesthetically pleasing and workable. It make take me a while but I'll post something when I get there! 

mardi 24 décembre 2013

Have a Woolly Christmas!

This year my project has been to re-interpret what you can do with Ouessant wool. It has been a very busy year, in lots of ways and Christmas is about the busiest time of year for me.  However I still managed to get some wool in there somewhere. If you look closely at the photo you will see the needle felted hearts I made earlier are now decorating the tree. I am more than ready for some rest and recuperation  and if lucky tomorrow will be relatively quiet. I have a little yarn project all ready to start:-) Have a good one!

samedi 21 décembre 2013

Breeding Groups 2013

This year, despite all my resolutions last year, has been the most lengthy for breeding groups. For various reasons, I have staggered  when the rams have gone in their groups resulting in lambs possibly being born over a considerably longer period than I would have usually. Come lambing time I will be exhausted! That said the option to be able to select a group or even a single ewe to put to a ram does have benefits that must be taken into account. Five months or possibly longer....... and counting!!

vendredi 20 décembre 2013


I was going to do a post on the winter solstice which is tomorrow. Unfortunately my photos of the golden sunset, were rather more tarnished than golden! However as I was wandering around putting everyone to bed I couldn't help but notice that on this apple tree there are JUST two apples left! They are beautiful and ripe and yet incongruously were left still hanging on a bare tree. It was too good a photo opportunity to  miss!

Wassailing LINK celebrates the apple and the drink  and passing of the wassail is traditionally celebrated around Christmas. Providence! I will leave  with a  old chant  recounted when wassailing, of course its sheep related :-)

Next crowne the bowle full
With gentle Lambs wooll,

Adde sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of all too,

And thus ye must doe
To make the Wassaile a swinger.


dimanche 15 décembre 2013

Heritage Flock - PNRA Parc Régional National d'Armorique

Recently I ventured deep in the heart of Brittany, it is a magical place, where myth and legend come to life. The area is rich with celtic symbolism and the geography and landscape does much to draw you close to its beating heart.  Its dark corners hide goblins and faeries in equal measure.

Nestled into the landscape is Ménez Meur seat of the Parc Régional National d'Armorique.  LINK here is a flock of Ouessant sheep  whose origins can be established back to the earliest days of the breed.  They are without doubt a flock whose heritage is a long one.

I was fortunate to visit the flock earlier this year, I was able to spend a quite a bit of time with the flocks (one white, one black)  and came away with the  lasting impression that the breed is in sound hands.  I may have also come away with a sheep  or two oops:-)

Gaia (PNRA)
The importance of recognising the connection of this breed with its cultural home cannot be underestimated and is never more in evidence than when you visit their native region. My trip into Finistère ( the end of the earth) was all too short and I will make time to return.

mardi 10 décembre 2013

Picture Perfect

I confess this little girl has captured my heart

lundi 9 décembre 2013


Looking Good Mate x 

dimanche 8 décembre 2013

Winter Regime

I was asked the other day about feeding the sheep in the winter. Everyone has their own thoughts on this subject and opinions will vary.

The ewes are currently getting a bucket of windfall apples a day between them. I''ll know when they are fed up of them as they'll start to leave them. For now I view it was a welcome addition to the grass and hay provided over the winter. The rams have their own supply of windfalls  and this years bumper crop of apples means that the ground under the tree is still a carpet of apples.

A salt lick is always available and periodically the sheep will take advantage. I prefer to use one specifically manufactured for sheep to ensure that the mineral content is balanced for them.

Hay is self serve and I have racks  dotted around the place, so that even the less forward sheep can find a rack to browse from.

Feeding grains is personally not something that I like. I find that Ouessant  sheep really don't need the high protein content. I will supplement and a base of luzerne granules can be used with the addition of ewe nuts and or afalfa and molasses as a coarse mix when needed. This mix can be varied according to the specific requirements of the group of sheep being fed and is more sensitive to individual needs than a highly concentrated commercial feed supplement.

vendredi 6 décembre 2013

Feeling Felty For Christmas

Needle Felted Christmas Hearts - Ouessant Sheep Wool 
 Coeurs de Noël Feutré à l'Aiguille - Laine Mouton d'Ouessant

Well, after some heartache ( groan) I finally finished the christmas felty decorations in time for Christmas!! Needle felting is very forgiving of mistakes and if things don't work the first time they are easy to adjust and adapt and still obtain a good result. I liked the use of ribbons and embroidery to embellish the basic idea and this type of added decoration can be taken in many different ways.

A quick search will throw up lots of excellent ideas. One such search provided a tutorial and many different ways to decorate felt ornaments. This uses wet felting as the basic method   but needle felting should also be  possible. 

LINK - Judy Coates Perez Blog

mercredi 4 décembre 2013

Country Stroll

Santa taking a quiet stroll before things get hectic.

Needle felted Santa - 100% Ouessant Wool  / Père Noël feutré à l'aiguille 100% laine Mouton d'Ouessant

dimanche 1 décembre 2013

2013 - A Little Later...

Spered Breizh Ushant
Around this time last year I found myself speeding across Europe and an appointment with a ram in Germany for a selection of ewes from my flock. A one way trip was over 1000kms and it was necessary to do there and back in two days.........twice!  Yuk!! The driving was a headache, the paperwork was officious  but necessary,  it must have been some ram!!

 Christian de Brioux - owner J Schneider - photo courtesy  J Schneider
Meet Christian de Brioux, a much loved ram, originally bred in France by C Coutant and exported to Germany some three years later. Aside from being a dual champion GEMO and IGOU, he is one of a rare few  individuals whose origins can be traced back to the very earliest beginings of the restoration of the breed. Yep he is definately some ram!

I am grateful to both his owner J Schneider and also A Bergmann for accommodating my ewes in Germany to allow for this mating to be possible.

Ushants dam Spered Breizh Nimue, a home bred ewe was selected for her origins and type to go to Germany, she was narrowly placed ahead  of a very nice ewe at the GEMO national show at Brécé this year to be given Prix d'honneur brebis blanches.

To be able to reach deeper into the breeding of Ouessant Sheep than purely the aesthetic and to be in the fortunate position to look towards conservation of the heritage of the breed and its Breton roots is a priviledge. I am grateful to everyone who has helped me along that road. 

dimanche 24 novembre 2013

Horn Comparisons Autumn 2013

I have tried a number of time to get this rams horns from a head on view, without success. This is Minimax. I wanted to make a comparison not with another of this years rams but one of the earlier posts on development of rams horns. LINK This post from  2009 features Faolan as a youngster.

 There are some noticeable differences particularly the spread of Minimax's horns which are far more horizontal to each other and they have a rotation which gives them greater starting height than those of Faolan. However there are sufficient similarities to make a comparison. As I still have Faolan today I am able to compare not just on the early development but also on the possible outcome as an adult. On a number of points I think there is an improvement.  However there is still a long way to go towards producing reliable hornsets with the right attributes. This years rams and their range of horn variations have given me a much broader base to work from. Not withstanding luck which is always a nice bonus, finally I can see some direction to take. 

samedi 23 novembre 2013

Automne en Bretagne

The rich reds and golden sunshine of autumn  in Brittany. Punctuated by fluorescent orange jackets of the huntsmen....... so hopefully they avoid shooting each other .............they are *mostly*  successful. Two hundred metres from  taking this photo a magnificent pheasant made his way across the road, we looked at each other, nodded and he went on his way. The joys and madness of living in Brittany...

mercredi 20 novembre 2013

Boyish Charm

Brothers, who are in many ways quite similar and yet in others quite different. This photo has offered me several insights, what I enjoy most about it is the relaxed shared space of the two youngsters.

dimanche 17 novembre 2013

Selection - Breeding Groups

The nursery group, the ewe lambs that won't be bred this year. These ewe lambs either bred by myself or brought in from outside flocks  are destined for an appointment with the ram next year. However the selection process began from before they were even born. Last years choices of matings has dictated the genepool that I want to work with. To this end I have considered the available blood lines and worked to maintain  representation  of each bloodline within my flock. This is conservation breeding and is dealt with under another heading. In addition to conservation breeding I am looking to retain those sheep that fit within my parameters for the breed. It is good at this point to ask yourself what is the ultimate aim, not the short term aim of the lamb that is in front of you next year or the year after that, in the case of these ewes, but the longer term aim for your flock. Where do you see things going?

If you were to fast forward your flock by five or ten years using the current goals how would the flock look?.................................

Within this grouping of five ewe lambs there are four different  unrelated ram bloodlines in the first generation and five different  unrelated ewe bloodlines in the first generation. The selection criteria that I have used over the last few years is designed to retain maximum variability with regards to alleles present within the flock and yet  selection criteria has been towards set goals for producing animals of sound construction that represent the breed standard and reproduce those results consistantly. This has been hard at times and there have been moments when I have found the decision making process difficult. In those moments I return to the question what is my long term goal?

samedi 16 novembre 2013

Ramly Headaches

Ti'beau has a set of horns that would give anyone  a headache,  but I was thinking more along the lines of keeping rams and unbred ewes on the same site.  A recent conversation reminded me that I am lucky to be able to house my rams seperately to the ewes when needed, in such a way that the rams cannot stress over not getting to the ewes when they are on heat. This isn't the case for everyone and keeping rams and unbred ewes apart, fences in place and stress levels down when they are in close proximity can be difficult.

Owning a ram comes with a set of responsibilities, no matter how calm and docile out of breeding season the hormonal influence cannnot be under estimated when an on heat ewe is around. They can become dangerous and even a Ouessant ram can cause injury. Think carefully what the reasons are behind a decision to own a ram, if you really want to breed then there is no reason not to look at the options for  the loan of a ram for a breeding season. Problems associated with in-breeding can be avoided and you still have the option for lambs without the difficulties of a testosterone fuelled set of horns for more than a few weeks at most.  The alternative is to own and all male flock, bachelor groups of rams work very well provided there are no ewes in the vicinity to upset the balance.

This years breeding groups will be together for a maximum period of six weeks, long enough for the ewes to cycle a second time if not bred the first time around. After that the rams will all rejoin the bachelor group and peace and tranquility will be restored for everyone.

Il est parfois difficile quand vous avez le ou les béliers au même endroit que les femelles  surtout s'il y en a que vous voudriez pas reproduire pour un raison où l'autre. Malheureusement souvent ceux qui débutent avec un couple ( mâle et femelle ) tombent sur ce problème  assez vite à cause du consanguinité et le fait qu'il est souvent plus difficile  à placer les mâles. Un bélier même si c'est un mouton d'Ouessant peut être agressif s'il est frustré et qu'il sent une brebis en chaleur.  A devenir propriétaire d'un bélier n'est pas sans responsabilité. Un troupeau des moutons constitué des femelles et les mâles castré peut être un solution. Si vous voudriez des naissances,  à trouver quelqu'un à vous prêter un  mâle peut être un option à fin de limiter les difficultés . 
L'option d'avoir un troupeau constitué seulement des mâles  est impressionnant  à voir et moins  turbulent  qu'un mâle séparé des femelles. Il n'est pas obligatoire à prendre un mâle  avec une femelle surtout si vous n'avez pas l'expérience, soyez prudent, mais n'oubliez pas un mouton seul est un mouton malheureux il faut au mois deux.

dimanche 10 novembre 2013

Plan B

Irritatingly blogger seems to want to automatically lighten this photo no matter what I do!!
Originally this yarn which is from on my bobbin # 4 was destined to be alot more funky than it is. However I wasn't adventurous enough and instead I got a yarn which is chunky and textured. Thats OK, plan B.  I haven't crochet'd since I was in my teens :-o still, it isn't difficult and I picked a knot which is so simple to do how could I go wrong? Well I did a couple of times but lets gloss over that :-).

Thanks to the internet and youtube to be precise I found an eloquent and easy to follow guide to how to do this knot and make a shawl. LINK Now let me tell you I had resolved not to make a shawl,  however plan B and all that . That being said I am pleased it has turned out as well as it has and I have learnt from doing it. 

This is more the actual colour of the yarn
So I can tick off one more project completed, more learnt and I have found inspiration for the next project, but for now back to christmas decorations!!

Un châle au crochet  de laine de mouton d'Ouessant! Enfin , ça me fais plaisir d'avoir réussi à filer la laine de mes moutons. Les moutons que j'ai élevé, tondu et maintenant peux dire qu'ils sont pas uniquement pour tondre l'herbe c'est  vraiment un bête à laine, on retourne au débuts de la race.  Même s'il  y a du travail encore pour l'apprentissage du filage, je suis contente.

The Ouessant Sheep originates from the island of Ouessant, part of a tiny archipelago just off the north coast of Finistere, Brittany. The island of terror as it was known to some, was swept by the full force of the atlantic’s weather, the hardy sheep adapted to survive on poor grazing from salty clifftop meadows. It was the women of the island that raised the sheep, renowned for their black wool to weave into cloth known locally as berlinge and their meat with its sweet and delicate taste.

La race "Mouton d'Ouessant" est originaire de l’île d’’Ouessant qui fait parti d’un petit archipel au large du Finistère, Bretagne. L’île de l'épouvante comme c'était connu par certains était balayé par les intempéries de l’atlantique, ces moutons rustiques s'adaptaient à survivre sur les pâturages pauvres des falaises salées. C’était les femmes de l’île qui élevaient les moutons réputés pour leur laine noire à tisser « la berlinge » une étoffe régionale et leur viande avec un goût doux et délicat.

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