Counting Sheep


The book called “Counting Sheep” by Philip Walling is a fascinating read for anyone like me who has an interest in wool.  Based on some of the 60 native wool breeds that live in the UK it charts their development , their history , and the realities of sheep farming today.  Although I cannot convince my family of the fact it is a really interesting read , I recommend it – there is  even a chapter on different kinds of sheepdogs . 

Historically  sheep were kept for their wool. Wool was the mainstay of the UK economy for four centuries.  Fortunes were made on wool production and export of the wool to Europe.    As the demand for meat grew , new breeds were developed , often with an impact on the quality of the wool.  Today sheep are almost exclusively bred for meat and the value of the wool although slightly recovering is very small. 

Whilst at Woolfest I was reminded of this book  listening  to Peter Titley  talk on  rare Britsh sheep breeds.   Many of these rare breeds were used in the development of today’s modern sheep. 

 The hebredians , sheep with a capacity to survive on really coarse grass .
This is a Manx Loghtan, another ancient sheep , native of the Isle of Man.

Blue faced Leicestershire were first bred around Hexham in Northumberland.  A very odd looking sheep , used to breed Mule sheep for their meat by crossing with blac-faced horned sheep. 

It doesn’t produce much wool , but what is does is lovely to use for felting. 

My favorite of all is the Herdwick , tasty meat , hardy sheep , not good for felting …. 

But excellent for hardwearing carpets.

As advertised by Wools of Cumbria Carpets Ltd , with this quirky carpet sheep.