More sheep, in case you’re curious

So I spent a couple of days in Cumbria with June Hall. She knows enormous amounts about local history, geology, plant life, and, of course, sheep and the people who keep them. It didn’t rain as much as the forecast suggested it would, although we (and the sheep) got wet. They take it in stride. When they shake, it flies off their woolly coats just as it should.

We saw a bunch of Cumbria and some of the Yorkshire Dales, specifically Wensleydale and Swaledale. It’s so good to see these landscapes. I’d love to do a study with photographs of the breeds in their places of origin. Wouldn’t that be enjoyable?

First, though, there is June’s small flock of Soay sheep, who live right next to her house.


The light one (without the white face) is matriarch Beauty, whose photo I took four years ago and have decorating my iPad mini. Beauty is now 16 years old.


June gave me some Badgerface wool to spin. It’s a rare breed here in the British Isles, and there’s a photo of some of the sheep later in this post.


June’s already spun up enough for an everyday sweater.

We went to see Hebridean sheep: these are the ewes. They thought we had edible treats for them. Alas, we did not, so they left almost as quickly as they arrived.


The rams were a bit less eager and also less quick to run off.


This is the flock from which the samples in The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook came. They would have been interesting anyway, but that was special.

On the Dales visit, we traveled one way through Wensleydale, and the other way through Swaledale. Very different landscapes, in adjacent long valleys.


We visited the Wensleydale Sheep Shop. I have used some yarn that comes from here, which I purchased at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. It was great to see the place itself.


Wonderful inside:


Here’s a series of images from the day, which I’ll need to sort out later—some parts of the Dales are cultivated, and some are remote. The physical distances are not large, but the geographic and mental distances are.







This was who greeted me the next morning before we went out again. This cat does not live here. Except he thinks he does. (There is another cat who does live here. I saw him a bit less often than I did this one.)



Both days we took picnic lunches with us. The first day we ate in the car because of the wind (and a bit of rain). The second day, this one, we ate in the car because of the rain (and a touch of wind).


These are the Badgerface sheep (in front). The dark-bellied one with white wool is a torddu. The white-bellied one with the dark wool is a torwen.

We also saw sweet and wonderful Herdwicks: they get redded up for shows. The darker ones are the youngest.


We ended the day visiting a flock of Portlands. Moms have been shorn, youngsters not.


I’m skipping so many details! And a lot of photos of rain.


4 thoughts on “More sheep, in case you’re curious”

  1. Elaine, weather is just weather. If you’re going to be interested in sheep, you take the necessary clothes and footgear {grin}. It’s all good. I have not been cold AND wet, which is the problem condition. And yes, I want to see more of the north country.

  2. It’s interesting that many of the sheep in these photos have not had their tails docked. Is that standard practice in that geographical area, or for those breeds, or …?

  3. JC, they dock tails far less often and less severely here than in the U.S. (Same with dogs.) Of the sheep in this post, the Soay and Hebridean sheep in the first images do have naturally short tails (although their tails don’t show in the pictures). The Swaledales (in the big landscapes), Badgerfaces, Herdwicks (very close up), and Portlands (all in the later photos) do have naturally llong tails that are not docked.

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