It’s Sheep Central round here. More than can ever – surely – enter the food chain. Far more than the wool trade requires. At shearing time, you’ll pass barns full of discarded fleeces, not worth the effort of gathering up and attempting to sell them. The sheep are well-fenced here – usually – so they don’t get out and browse the grass to the very ground, or maraud in any woodland they find. All the same, I do rather wonder – why so very, very many?
But here are two handsome enough specimens –
And here are some hungry sheep, requiring a top-up of food.
And here’s one on the moor above Dallowgill. Monarch of all she surveys.
All that snow we’ve been having. It’s so pretty, but I bet those poor sheep were fed up. Look at that featured photo. Not much evidence of grass there. So when I passed a neighbouring farm while out with Virtual Dog on Sunday, I wasn’t too surprised to find any number of sheep gathered round the serving hatch. Nobody needed to encourage them to eat up.
A few days ago, I showed you our top food tip for this time of year – wild garlic. The local sheep disagree. For them, nothing beats a mangelwurzel, and this sheep here is jealously guarding her pile of them. This time, I have no recipes to share, top or otherwise. Sorry.
I think I like this kind of wintry day best of all. We’ve had a carpet of snow on the ground, blanking out grass, pavements and drifts of snowdrops. But today, it’s just a little warmer, and the snow is softly melting into the ground. But still here. We go out for a walk, before the cold descends once more. Winter footprints are visible now, because the impacted snow has dissolved away, leaving a silhouette of – what? Is that a crow print? A pheasant? Oh look, those are rabbits – look at how they land, four square and neatly as they run. And here’s a dog of course.
The landscape assembles itself into broad strata of austere colours: raw umber earth; no-longer pristine snow, almost dappled in places; perhaps some olive-shaded grass, and behind all these, a line of winter trees, their skeletons highlighted against the grey sombre skyline.
We see this robin on a fence post.
But apart from him, sheep are the only living creatures we spot on our walk today. Against the snow, they aren’t white at all, but a slightly dirty cream. They scratch an unsatisfactory meal from the less snowy parts of the fields. They come to look at us. We look at them.
Then we look for snowdrops instead, and for wood. It’s forbidden to go out at this time of year without coming back with an armful of kindling for the log burner.
And how glad we are to get back to our log burner! We enjoyed seeing our familiar landscape clothed in its skimpy veil of whiteness. But we appreciated getting back to warmth, a fireside, and a nice cup of tea even more.
Here’s a contribution to Jo’s Monday Walk (Jo’s own walks tend to be in Portugal these days. That’s where she lives. Feeling chilly Jo, reading this?)
A fortnight ago, I showed you something of the sheepdog trials at Wensleydale Show. It reminded me of Masham Sheep Fair, three years ago. Sheepdogs were demonstrating their skills there too – of course they were. But not with sheep. The creatures they were herding were – geese….
And here is the post I wrote four years ago about Masham’s annual sheep show:
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?
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