Revisiting A Sheep is a Sheep is a Sheep

Blogging challenges, Festivals, Heritage, North Yorkshire

Somehow, we forgot all about Masham Sheep Fair last weekend. We forgot about the dozens of different breeds of sheep on show; the sheep-shearing demonstrations; the sheep dog competitions; the children, some really quite young, demonstrating their knowledge and prowess as sheep-handlers. There’s no help for it. We’ll have to revisit this post from October 2014 instead. And by the way. Please don’t show yourself up. Pronounce Masham correctly. Mas-ham. Anyone who lets the side down and calls it Mash’em is immediately recognised as an outsider.

And let’s include this blast-from-the-past in Becky’s Past Squares, as well as including it in Fandango’s Flashback Friday, a celebration of past posts which deserve another outing.

A SHEEP IS A SHEEP IS A SHEEP …

… or not.

On Saturday we called in, far too briefly, at the annual Masham Sheep Fair. This is the place to go if you believe a sheep looks just like this.

Saturday was the day a whole lot of sheep judging was going on in the market square.  Here are a few of the not-at-all identical candidates. And yet they are only a few of the many breeds in England, and in the world. There are 32 distinct breeds commonly seen in different parts of the UK, and many more half-breeds.  I was going to identify the ones I’m showing you, but have decided that with one or two exceptions (I know a Swaledale, a Blue-faced Leicester or a Jacobs when I see one), I’d get them wrong. So this is simply a Beauty Pageant for Masham and District sheep.

And if you thought wool was just wool, these pictures may be even more surprising.  Who knew that sheep are not simply…. just sheep?

62 thoughts on “Revisiting A Sheep is a Sheep is a Sheep

  1. New to me! And you’ve got me at Mash’em …. that would have been me. But if I wd write it as we pronounce it ‘here’, it would be Maaschem (falsely) or Maas-ham correctly! Thank you for the woolies and the rest. Always most entertaining.

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  2. What a fantastic post, Margaret! And thank you so much for highlighting the wonderful world of sheep..! I so enjoyed reading this – and the photos are fantastic and as has been said, so interesting and educational 🙂
    PS – of course, SOAY are still the best breed in my mind (but I may be a bit bias!)

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      1. It’s so good to have some publicity about how varied sheep actually are – we tend to just think of them as white blobs on green carpets, but they’re so much more than that. And I have to say, Margaret, I think you’re underestimating them cognitively… I’m sure they have at least a couple of brain cells. And some even a few more, possibly..! 🙂

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      2. Hmm. I’m thinking of the sheep-next-door who managed to effect a break out from her field. She couldn’t remember her way back, and hurled and hurled herself against the fence post till finally she broke her leg. And, the vet having been expensively paid off, she continued to try to escape on a regular basis. I rest my case.

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  3. I love those close-up shots of the wool textures – and making them all uniform squares just goes to emphasise the differences! We had a lovely wander around Masham on our way to Grinton from Ripon earlier in the summer but the square was full of bikers rather than sheep 😆

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      1. No, the Bridge Inn in Grinton. It’s a family tradition – my father in law was evacuated to Grinton and fell in love with the Dales, especially Swaledale. The house he lived in was right next to the pub and has since been incorporated into it. When he died we scattered his ashes on Grinton Moor and we go back around the anniversary of his death each year to pay him a visit. We used to take my mother in law but she’s no longer with us, however Chris and I have kept up the tradition. We always have lunch at the pub with the two daughters of the family he was evacuated with and their husbands. They live in Kendal so it was also a convenient place to meet between their homes and our usual August visit base in Newcastle, although the past two years we’ve stayed in Yorkshire for a change – Leyburn last year and Ripon this.

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  4. I love Grinton, and we always make a bee-line for the Swaledale Festival, which punches well above its weight. What a lovely family tradition you have there! Long may it continue.

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  5. What a marvellous post about the woolly creatures. I rather like sheep (unlike cattle) and there are some lovely breeds around, one of my favourites being the Herdwicks. Those Swiss sheep that look like teddy bears are cute too.

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  6. Definitely worth revisiting. I remember this one from first time round. The fleece details make a beautiful collage, though it does feel a little like a sheep breed ID quiz with no answers!

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  7. Oh I love the photos of all the different fleeces. It’s a real eye–opener for me after all the years of reading and writing about the wonderful variety and quality of English wool that brought prosperity to much of medieval/Tudor England. Your photos make it so clear. Thanks for such an interesting post.

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