The sheep are here! If you read last week’s blogpost on Greyface Dartmoors, you’ll know what I’m talking about…but not exactly. I was away from the farm last week, doing things in London, and while I was there my parents changed the plan slightly. GFD’s may still be on the stock list, but what has actually arrived is a little different!
The first thing to note is that we are beginner farmers…to say the least. Mum grew up on a tobacco farm in Zimbabwe, and dad on a smallholding in South Africa. We have always had a lot of pets – dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, tortoises, rats, bushbabies, birds, monkeys, you name it…but never domesticated livestock.
It turns out that it’s all much more complicated than I could have imagined. Getting Tonks was very much not our choice, she just turned up, but it was quite easy to look after her – a bit of food, some love, jabs once a year and the snip when she was 6 months old, and that was it. I occasionally clip her claws, but that’s it.
Sheep, on the other hand. We needed a field – check, we have two. Except there are holes in the fences that need fixing. Shelter of some sort – check. We have two of these, three stables, two barns and a nice big orchard. We needed some fencing – errr, come back to that. We needed hay – no, come back to that as well. We needed sheep food – nope, come back to that.
Mum and dad managed to sort it all out, with a house full of relatives and a trip to the local farm shop, which I tagged along to. We got the basics sorted and were good to go – there’s a mountain more to learn, but we’ll get there in time…Next thing on the list is to memorise what all the terms on this list mean!
My dad got four mules from some of our family friends. I didn’t realise that you can get ‘mule’ sheep – I’ll do a feature on them sometime soon, but that is what we have!
There are two elder ladies, Angelica and Shyna. Angelica has a long tail and Shyna is recognisable as a process of elimination, at the moment – I’m sure we’ll learn to recognise her soon enough. These are both around eight years old, I believe, and Angelica is super friendly! She came right up to us and ate some sheep mix from a bucket, while the other three were a bit less excited by the whole thing. Shyna is so named because she is very shy….I’ll have her eating out of my hand soon, just wait!
Last years lamb is a beautiful little lady called Lavender. She has got a fairly long fleece, by the looks of it, and I’m not entirely sure why she is called Lavender. She has a half-length tail that is quite recognisable, so it’s easy to tell who she is! Lavender is nearest in the below photo, Shyna has her back to us and the little lamb is furthest away looking left.
Number Four is this years lamb – and as you can see, doesn’t have a name yet! She’s fairly little – I think Shyna is her mother, although I’m not entirely sure, and we have yet to figure out what her character is.
Mum, on the other hand, got herself a couple of Ouessants! Listeners of the podcast may remember that I profiled this breed in Episode Seven, and I later wrote a full post on them with plenty of detail, in which I lamented the lack of fleece that I had to hand. Well, no longer! They are really rare, and ours come straight from another farm in Cornwood, around a mile away from us – what are the chances!
The reason mum got them is because she had a leaflet from the Kingsbridge Show lying around, and I saw it and got super excited because I’d had such a hard time getting hold of the fibre. We called up the breeder, and before we knew it, had agreed to a small flock of them!
The two we currently have are little ewes – both this year’s lambs, and both super cute. They are tiny. Like, smaller than a labrador tiny. One is bigger than the other, and we suspect born quite a lot earlier than the small one. However, as we all know big things come in small packages and the little one is definitely the braver of the two. She’s also noisy! I can hear her bleating as I type. They’re very timid, but they’ll be tame soon, you mark my words.
We will also be getting two wethers, castrated males, but they only got the snip this morning so we have to wait a month before they will be unable to impregnate our two little ladies…who are as yet unnamed. I hope you can see what is coming…
Competition: Name the Sheep!
I would love you all to suggest names for the three unnamed sheep, please! We have the one mule ewe and two ouessant ewes, and I can’t tell you anything about them apart from what I already have! I’ll put together a list of the names, and mum and dad will choose the names for their respective animals. Those who suggest the winning names will get a treat from the farm, so make sure to leave your email address.
Comments on this post are fine, otherwise email me on firstname.lastname@example.org! The current list of names can be found here, to avoid duplication!
I’ll close the competition on the 25th of October, so you have four days to get your creative juices flowing! You’ll be finding out a lot more about them as time goes on, so keep tuned.
I’m just editing Episode 17 of the podcast, which will have recordings of the sheep on it, so if you come back tomorrow or later, you’ll get a chance to hear them in the flesh! Keep an eye on the Plutonium Muffins YouTube too…videos will come. It’s all happening here!
I’ll keep you all updated on the Greyface Dartmoors, but in the meantime I need to shoot off because I have sheep to stare at lovingly, not to mention Knit Night at Hulu to go to.