Visiting England for Weaving and Sheep – Part 1

I just returned from a trip to England for a weaving course and to make the acquaintance of some British sheep breeds. It was a long trip – almost 2 weeks – so I will break it up over several blog posts.

After arriving – and taking several trains to get to my first stopping place – I arrived at the town of Colchester. Colchester is on the border of Essex and Suffolk in the eastern part of England. In planning my trip, I knew I wanted to visit the British cousins of my Jacob Sheep so I contacted the (British) Jacob Sheep Society. There will be more about them in a later post but for this story, they were instrumental with getting me connected with Trish, a Jacob Sheep breeder not too far from Colchester. Trish was amazing. She not only invited me to visit her farm but also told me how to get a train to a station near her – in the town of Stowmarket – and picked me up to take me to her farm near the village of Woolpit (I felt like I was in a storybook!)

I really enjoyed taking the trains in England – and was fascinated by the old architecture of the smaller stations.

Stowmarket train station

It was never obvious for me which platform to be on to go the direction I needed to go but the station agents were very helpful and I always ended up where I wanted to go!

View of Stowmarket from where I had to climb all those steps to switch platforms!

But, enough about trains – this trip was about sheep!

Trish has a flock of about 40 ewes and several rams, plus this year’s lambs.  All her sheep are two-horned, which she prefers. Her rams were quite docile most of the time. She told me she likes her sheep nice and friendly. She treats with a special grain mixture she has made especially for her sheep.

Her rams have some beautiful heads.

The rams seem to love the special attention they get from Trish….

…and they return the affection.

Trish marks her ewes with a powdered paint to keep track of family groups.

These Jacobs aren't just black and white!

It was nice to see sheep on such green pasture.

I was curious about the differences between British and American Jacobs. Trish explained that the British like very clean delineations on the face – black with white blaze. They also value no color on the legs.

"Look at my white legs!"

There was so much to see at Trish’s farm – she had a pasture of older ewes, one of young rams, and a couple pastures where the rams had been put in with the breeding ewes.

"Yes, they call me a 'pensioner'. I don't care what they call me as long as I can graze on this wonderful green grass."

Ram with breeding ewes, resting in a quiet spot.

The structures on her farm were very nice. She has just gotten a new barn for storing straw and a lambing area.

An interesting part of the farm was the fencing. I had read about the English using hedges as an integral part of their fencing. No predators here except some foxes but they aren’t a match for adult sheep. The hedges grow up along the fences and become a part of them.

It was a very special day to meet some really nice Jacobs and a friendly and generous Jacob breeder.


Published in: on September 16, 2011 at 6:44 am  Leave a Comment  

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