Sheep – The Wild Ones
Introducing The Wild Ones.
St. Columba’s flock of rare breed sheep are located in the heart of the South Downs of England. Here we will celebrate the life and love we have for these beautiful creatures. Working with rare breed sheep is one of the ways we learn the art of caring for creation. Learning to shepherd sheep is a Himalayan learning curve, one where members of our community have had to learn the art of working together for the health and wellbeing of the flock. We have discovered that it is not really about the sheep, but it is about the Shepherd of the Sheep and we have had to keep one eye on heaven throughout our journey. We hope you enjoy the unfolding story of the Wild Ones and please feel free to contact us about our flock and how you might get your hands dirty with us, as dirty they most certainly will become.
Our current flock consists of mostly rare and primitive cross breeds, derived from Manx Longthan, Shetland, Icelandic and the odd Soay. We have a number of pure bred Manx’s, Shetland’s and Icelandic’s but the majority are crosses. Now we have worked with our sheep for nearly a year we have decided to focus on breeding Manx Longthan and Icelandic as well as keeping a good core of crosses to maintain the wonderful colour variety in the fleeces.
Our sheep consist of a core of breeding ewes, their lambs, hoggets (12 months to 3 years) and our 2 treasured rams, Pip our Manx Loaghtan and Curtis the Muskat Shetland. This gives us up to 150 sheep over the course of the year. This number goes up and down, depending on how many may die (they say that sheep have a 101 different ways of dieing), we score out of the flock and of course how many we pop in the box.
Tupping is the word used for putting the ram in with the ewes that you wish to get pregnant. The average gestation period of a ewe is 147 days. So traditionally to get spring lambs you would start tupping from the 5 November. This gives you a due date of 1 April for lambing. We however have decided to put our rams in towards the middle or late November. This will give us a mid April lambing, thereby maximising the hopefully better warming air.
Lambing is a beautiful moment for anyone who has ever been involved. Caring and nurturing the ewes and new born lambs is an unforgettable experience. We lamb out doors, our sheep are hardy folk and its best for our breeds. They are excellent mums and very bohemian in their approach to giving birth. If you would like to share the experience of lambs being born, nightly fox patrols, being involved with making sure the lamb takes to mum and is feeding fine, then drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org
We shear our sheep at the end of June, early July depending on the weather (you cannot shear wet fleece). This means we have anywhere up to 250kgs of prime rare breed fleeces every year. We sell these to spinning enthusiasts, and a few other dedicated buyers. Our preference is to always sell to enthusiasts, as we want to keep our work as personal as is possible. We hope next year 2019 to be selling our own St Columba’s Yarn for all the those dedicated knitters out there.
Whilst we all love the romantic visions of sheep in our rural pastures, every year we need to score our flock and cull out the older ewes. After an average of six years, older ewes can become prone to more disease, which in turn can impact the bigger flock. By keeping the breeding ewe’s in their prime, we increase the chances of maintaining a healthy flock. It sounds harsh but needs to be done for the greater good. However if you have a spare 1/2 acre, don’t have a pet dog and need your lawn mowing to perfection, why not consider keeping a couple of our older ladies, we would be more than happy to work this out with you and help get the right set up for you.
- Meat Boxes. Lamb, Hogget, Mutton.
If you would like to get involved with our flock, why not spend a day with the sheep team or become a customer. By doing so you will not only be financially supporting the work, but will get first hand experience of what its like to care for sheep. Please do send your enquiry to email@example.com we would be delighted to hear from you. Supporting our countryside, our rare breed sheep and experiencing shepherding up close and personal is a very rewarding experience.