dimanche 28 juillet 2013

Claim to Fame

César- Adult Ouessant Ram

There is an oft quoted phrase associated with the breed. The mouton d'Ouessant - the worlds smallest breed of sheep. Whilst the Ouessant sheep is certainly small  and could be considered one of the smallest, there are other contenders for the title such as the Garole sheep. The Ouessants claim is not without merit however.

What about Frances only native short tailed breed of sheep - I think that deserves a mention. European short tailed breeds of sheep belong to an exclusive group, most of which are to be found in northern Europe notably nordic  and baltic countries - the Ouessant sheep  geographically is out on a limb, it is also one of the least developed, its small size has meant it has been considered largely redundant in terms of commercial agriculture for many generations. 

How about Frances most primitive and therefore oldest breed of sheep.  For such a small breed of sheep it has some impressive claims to fame.

For information on the breed and some of its vital statistics visit the Ecomusée du pays de Rennes  LINK   It is refreshing to see the breed in context with the other breton breeds and also the acknowledgement that far from being an insular variety of a mainland breed it is considered the archaeic form.

Le Mouton d'Ouessant parfois nommé le plus petit mouton du monde - une vérité même s'il y a d'autres candidats pour le titre. Le mouton de Garole par exemple. 

On peut dire aussi la seule race de mouton à queue courte d'origine française. Les races de moutons à queue courte sont pour le plupart trouvés aux pays nordiques et baltes,  le Ouessant est considéré  à faire partie du  même groupe. La race ovine  française le plus primitif  donc la race le plus archaique,  une liste impressionnant pour un mouton si petit.

Pour plus d'infos sur la race surtout en contexte avec les autres races de moutons bretonnes cliquez Ecomusée du pays de Rennes  LIEN

mercredi 24 juillet 2013

Broken Skies

Tonight for the first time in what seems like weeks the sky is overcast and there is a freshness on the breeze. It has been glorious, sultry and hot. The sweet smell of hay fills the barn once again and summer moves forward. Long may it continue:-)

Un ciel orageux, mais un été  splendide, il n'y a rien de mieux :-)

dimanche 21 juillet 2013

Black Gold

 Quote from  1879 on the Island of Ouessant 

" Les parties non cultivées produisent une espèce de gazon très-dur et très maigre, brouté par quelques bêtes à cornes et surtout par des moutons de très-petite espèce, que les habitants élèvent en grande quantité, surtout pour leur laine …….]
Le costume des hommes n’a rien de particulier. Celui des femmes est entièrement noir, et provient presque complétement de la laine des moutons, filée et tissée dans l’île."

"The uncultivated areas produced a tough  and poor type of grass, grazed by some horned animals and above all by sheep of a very small type, the inhabitants raised them in great numbers  mostly for their wool.............]
The mens costume was  not of any note. That of the women was entirely black and came almost completely from the wool of the sheep spun and woven on the island. "

Ports Maritimes de la France - 1879   -  Thank you à J Schneider pour ce texte

The decline in the production and value of black wool came relatively late to the region of Brittany particularly the regions furthest to the west in comparison to the rest of France and Europe. Today the Ouessant sheeps'  wool is viewed by many as of little value. A reflection that there has not  been  enough recognition and attention paid to its  historic commercial value as an intrinsic part of the breed today. Personally I am enjoying exploring its properties and learning how they can be interpreted for the modern day both aesthetically and practically.

Aujourd'hui  la valeur de la laine du Mouton d'Ouessant n'est pas reconnu, par contre dans le passé  c'était très important aux Ouessantines. Malgré cet importance du passé il est inaperçu dans les textes de la race moderne. Quel bonheur  à découvrir ses qualités esthétique et pratique et les interpréter à nouveau.

dimanche 14 juillet 2013


Eusa, a natural in front of the camera /  Eusa, à l'aise devant l'objectif

samedi 13 juillet 2013

Naturally Ouessant

I am determined to  make some inroads into the amount of fleece and fibre that is accumulating. However I couldn't help stopping for a few minutes to put together this basket of goodies. The knitted panier is a kind gift from Fanou and is a mix of Ouessant fibre and angora rabbit, it  is just perfect for displaying some of the variety of natural colours. All the fleece here has been roo'ed and then combed.

Le panier tricoté par Fanou de la laine d'un de mes moutons et d'un lapin angora est parfait à vous montrer la beauté des couleurs naturelles qu'on peut trouver chez le mouton d'Ouessant. Toute la laine sur la  photo était épilée et puis peignée. 

jeudi 11 juillet 2013

Inadvertant Introductions

New acquisitions can inadvertantly bring with them a whole host of uninvited guests. It is wise to assume no matter how scrupulous people can be that new stock may be harbouring parasites that don't have to be introduced to your pastures.

I alway take care to ensure that sheep and lambs coming from outside the flock are treated for internal and external parasites prior to letting them onto my pastures. Of course it may be a lot longer before I get any decent photos of them!

 La mise en quarantaine de tous les nouveaux arrivés  est le meilleur façon à protéger le troupeau contre les introductions non invité. Un traitement  pour  les parasites interne et externe est obligatoire en même temps. 

mercredi 10 juillet 2013

Gone Fishing....

Some fish need a different kind of bait. 

dimanche 7 juillet 2013


As the fleeces come off the sheep my fingers job is to learn as much as is possible about each one of them. Armed with new knowledge from my spinning exploits, my fingers run through the fleeces teasing and testing the fibre to get a "sense " of  its qualities and the differences between fleeces.  This is  part of the process  that I really enjoy. Most of my fleeces have been rooed this year, gone are the prickle sharp ends of the hairs to be replaced by smooth silky fibres.  I imagine how they will spin on the wheel. To try to illustrate this texture in photography is another art and one that I also enjoy experimenting with, I'm not sure I've captured it yet but I have a few more ideas.

La laine des antenaises est la plus douce de toutes les toisons, encore plus douce s'il est possible  à épiler la toison au lieu de  la tondre. Quel plaisir pour mes doigts à connaître chaque mouton en profondeur. Quel plaisir à comprendre la laine et ses qualités de cette façon

vendredi 5 juillet 2013

Teen Angst

Ok that may be exagerating things somewhat, watching the lambs grow  is always a fun time but you want them all to do well, grow well and look beautiful. Right now I am evaluating last years lambs as their fleeces come off, it is interesting comparing their photos from last year at around this time to now as yearlings without their rugs. Between now and then for this years lambs as the fleeces start to grow it becomes more difficult to really judge how they look. It has to be said that at this stage this fella doesn't disappoint, I only hope I feel the same in 12 months once his fleece is off and his horns have grown. Speaking of  horns..... trying to work out what his are doing  at this stage is  impossible but I'll keep taking photos!!

La vie est belle pour les agneaux de cette année et ils sont beaux, mais  rien est sûr. Il est à voir si  en été de l'année prochaine qu'ils seront encore  beaux après la tonte. 

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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