Scottish Smallholder and Grower Festival

posted in: Sheep, Travel, Wool | 8

Short and rough report again. Working while in transit and with limited internet access. At the moment, I'm on the ferry Hamnavoe from Scrabster (Scottish mainland) to Stromness (Orkney).

Saturday: The Scottish Smallholder and Grower Festival at Lanark Agricultural Centre. Thanks to Jeni for telling me about this event!

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Loved this interlude with a Border Leicester ram, a wee one, and I suspect grandfather in charge.

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Here's the handsome ram in a fuller photo:

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He's a very British Border Leicester: the upright set of the ears is more pronounced here than in most (all?) North American sheep of this breed that I've seen.

One GREAT fun moment was when I glanced out of the corner of my eye and caught sight of a fleece type that we don't see at all in North America: one of the very sturdiest of the longwools. It was a Greyface Dartmoor ram (tup) lamb! Just look at that hefty fleece. . . .

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That right there made my day.

Texel was represented as well. I tried to find a photo of the North American Texels that I took at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival for comparison, but haven't been able to turn it up. Those did not have the very blocky heads that I've come to see as one of the strong breed indicators in the British Isles. (The breed is originally from The Netherlands.)

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Differences in the same breed from one environment to the next makes some sheep identification very challenging. It's already a bit of a gamble to name a sheep breed without checking with the shepherd: there are many breeds, some closely related, and then all the crosses—before we even get to regional variations.

Jacobs are easy to recognize, although the British and North American are so different that they're considered different breeds. Here's a British one from the festival on Saturday:

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Such a handsome felllow! And half again as big as a North American Jacob ram, this one from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this past May.

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Different body shape, too. The British have been bred to be larger and produce more meat. Here's another North American one for comparison (at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas):

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They're small sheep in North America, and mid-sized in the British Isles. Here's that British Jacob ram next to a Romanov ram:

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Note that the Jacob's fleece has been fitted very differently than the American one that was prepared for show (the one in Maryland; the Jacob in Kansas was just hanging out at home and not dressed up to go out).

And because we can, let's look at that Romanov fellow as well:

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There were lots of other wonderful sheep, and I came away with a lot of photos.

A forthright Wensleydale ram:

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Colored (coloured) Ryelands:

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Oops: the next photo. These came away with me. Ryeland. Two fleeces. The Explore 4 retreat next March may include Ryeland as one of the four featured breeds. . . .

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Okay. The ferry's approaching Orkney. Time to quit.

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8 Responses

  1. Deb, this might mean I HAVE to go to explore four…just saying:)

  2. Love this post and pictures. Amazing sheep and that Jacob! Those horns!

    Wishing you a wonderful wonderful trip. I am so glad you were able to go.

  3. Love these updates, Deb. Thanks so much!

  4. Ooh, the Ryelands are lovely. That’s the breed who helped me to learn how to spin long draw.

  5. Wonderful updates, Deb! I want a Ryeland for my yard…. 🙂 I hope Orkney is a treat.

  6. Great update! Neat photos, especially the British Border Leicester. Those ears. We missed you last night. Can’t wait to hear more stories.

  7. Mr. Border Leicester has AMAZING ears! …and Sir Jacob looks like a cow with a party hat. What a great trip — thanks for glimpses! Carry on & keep informing…

  8. I love that Dartmoor. So handsome.

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