The Sheep on N Ronaldsay

What drew me to this island was the opportunity to see the sheep that are from here. The management of them is very interesting and unique. They are usually kept outside of a stone wall built around the island and live on seaweed. Each person or group owns their own sheep and when it is time for them to lamb or be sheared, they are brought inside the wall and out into “punds” or walled off enclosures. Dogs are not used as, for one reason, these sheep do not flock (stay together) as a rule. The sheep are sorted by an individualized system of ear markings which lets them be identified by each farm/owner.

My taxi driver tried very hard to find me sheep actually eating the seaweed but they were all a bit further in at that time. But I think seeing them in their natural habitat, along the coastline is simply breath taking. So here are some photos, showing you as well the diverse coloring of this breed.
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They are not sheep you can get close to and these stopped to get a look at who was getting this close….
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…before moving away, walking not running.20130809-025112.jpg
It was fantastic to listen to their hooves hit the huge stones as they made their way along the beach. I think I will hear that sound every time I see these photos.
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Their wool is wonderful (of course) and varied in softness. Yarn, roving and batts can be ordered through the website (www.northronaldsayyarn.co.uk). Jane had a little equipment trouble but all is running now and she will soon have more offerings on the website.

In the gift shop at the lighthouse, they have many lovely things made with the wool. And a very talented needle felter, Helen, helps out at the mill, running the equipment and teaching people to needle felt, as wells as producing some remarkable pieces herself. I had to bring one home with me!

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Speaking of bringing (or, rather, shipping) something home, Jane took me over to see this year’s clip and I chose two fleeces.

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She kindly sewed them up into bags for me and we sent them off at the local post office. As with my Hebridean fleeces, here’s hoping they make it!

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I leave N Ronalday with memories of some very nice people and some wonderful and unique sheep.

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Published in: on August 9, 2013 at 10:17 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh my this is my kind of place! Sheep on the beach, it doesn’t get much better than that!

  2. When I saw the rock walls, I really missed the U.K. There is something about those walls …. maybe it is knowing how long ago they were built by folks long dead. Add some N.R. sheep and a tall lighthouse. What could be finer. I know, some of those warm and wonderful Brits!


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