Saturday, 10 September 2011

Obliging Sheep

I am beginning to get really very fond of sheep. At the weekend my husband and I were helping with the annual Countryside Day. Our job was to promote the project's new sponsorship scheme for our conservation grazing animals and to answer questions about the grazing side of the project. To help with this we had the project's 19 Herdwick sheep. The wind blew the tents around right by them, people walked past them with dogs and children lent over to pet them but they remained calm and composed for the whole day and I think that is quite amazing.

There are around 900 different breeds of sheep in the world and each has different qualities. The Herdwicks, originating from Cumbria, are extremely hardy with coarse, dense fleeces high in kemp and lanolin to keep them dry and warm. They do well on poor quality forage and will happily eat regrowth of scrub, coarse grasses, coarse herbs and other invasive weeds so are useful in conservation grazing. Recently our Herdwicks were put in to graze a small orchard that was full of stinging nettles, brambles, Rosebay Willowherb etc. As the picture below shows, when they first went in we could hardly see them as the weeds towered above them.....

...but within a few days they had just about cleared the site (pic below) and were moved on to another overgrown orchard.

Nearly perfect little grazers, although, I did notice a bit of scrumping going on...but who could blame them:))

At the first orchard, just as we were about to have our lunch after having settled the sheep in, we noticed a rather battered Red Admiral butterfly laying on the ground by the gate, an obvious casualty of a lot of sheepy hooves. My husband carefully picked it up, straightened its wings out with a bit of grass and put it on a leaf to recover. Another volunteer mixed up a sugar solution and dropped it down on the leaf and the butterfly was soon tucking in..

Within a short time it was feeling much better and started sunning itself..Ahhhhh

My grandson has just walked in and on seeing I was writing about sheep (again!) started reeling off some sheep jokes...

Q: What did the cloned sheep say to the other sheep? A: I am ewe.

Q: Where do sheep get their hair cut? A: At the Baa-Baa's shop.

Q: How do sheep know the price of apples? A: By reading the Baaa-code.

I can sense a big groan from everyone but I found them quite amusing:))


Anonymous said...

Great blog and beautiful pictures as always, you must go around with your camera all the time looking for good shots. You are lucky to have the sheep and countryside on your doorstep with all the wildlife to enjoy.

Helen said...

Thanks for saying my photos are nice...I am not really in to photography so have to take about 10 pictures for every decent shot..thank goodness for digital cameras:)