mercredi 13 juin 2007

A Good Day Out

Last weekend the Ecomusée at Rennes played host to the 19th national competition for Ouessant Sheep.They were superb hosts providing not only excellent facilites for the sheep but laying on lunch and in a great setting too.

It was a time to meet and greet some of the names and faces in the world of Ouessants, some beautiful animals and a good day was had, I think, by all. GEMO the breed society in France has taken great strides to standardise the breed and to ensure that the competition fosters good breeding and sound animals. They are doing a great job.

First came the measuring. Each sheep is measured against the breed standard height maxium and also for the younger animals there is an ideal height range to try to ensure that yearlings are not likely to outgrow the height standard and be placed this year but be oversized by the time they mature. Having checked everyone in and worked out who was eligible to compete, it was time for a short ( by french standards!) lunch and then back for the real business of the day, the judging. An international panel of four judges, judged to a new trial scoring system deducting points for various attributes or lack of them.

This system went down well with the spectators who appreciated the critiques given and the reasoning behind the placing and as was the case with some classes with the withholding of the top prize.

Whilst there I got the chance to have a quick look around the Ecomuséé what a fantastic place and for my participation I got a couple of free tickets to return to the museum which I most certainly will. There are alot of exhibits and breeds of livestock from the region to see and ooh over, I will be back!

One exhibit was the spinning and textiles hall. It was interesting to watch the demonstrations of spinning and weaving and even more exciting to see the jaws of the exhibtors drop when I brought out the yarn sent to me by Pamela spun from one of my ouessants. Such fine and evenly spun yarn, they couldn't believe it was hand spun! It was pointed out that such skills have for the most part been lost but rest assured the spinner there at the Ecomusée is off to find some quality Ouessant fleece to spin!

The weather stayed good and the final juding whilst full of discussion and much musing over detail was fascianting to watch and I look forward to next year. Not only to see who brings what but in the knowledge that I have one or two little treasures that I am really hopeful will put on a good show......................... more another time.

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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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