mercredi 19 juin 2013

You're 'avin a Larf!

Gary is rather a cool dude, he takes life in his stride and strives at all times to remain composed. The onslaught of lambs using him as a climbing frame doesn't phase him, neither do his security duties, day and night keeping a watchful eye on the girls but there are times...... when his good nature is tested.  I mean what does he look like!!

Having fought with Gary over the years to detach his seriously felted fleece by any means necessary last year there was a bit of a break through and I left him longer than usual. To my surprise he rooed almost all of his fleece with just a little around the neck needing scissoring. So this year the fibre fairies have been back at work. ( snigger) Its true, its not an enviable hairstyle but its not for long the rest is lifting off nicely and soon Gary can go back to being a cool dude.

I expect virtually all of my sheep to moult or shed some part of their fleece.

As with the majority of my sheep this ewe has shed the wool on her tail and back legs and around the udder. This has not been trimmed or removed in any way. This kind of trait along with the primitive short tail is a reminder that this breed like many other primitives retains a close association with sheep who were not intensively managed and who by natural selection were reared to be closely in tune with their environment.

For the fibre enthusiast  a sheep who sheds its fleece can be a bonus but in terms of management its benefits are huge. Any sheep who may have soiled their fleece on fresh spring grass readily lose the soiled fleece without human intervention, at worst a swift tug to remove any daggy bits to speed things along is all that is needed.

The longer I keep my sheep the more I learn about the processes that led to this breed and how its adaptations fit into the landscape. I am sure that there is plenty more that they have to teach me.

And plenty more for me to play with.

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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