Lavender and Hester came to the farm in January from Diane. Diane’s situation was that she was acting as a caregiver on a commercial North Country Cheviot farm. Her girls were just not fitting in with the large existing flock and she had to make the difficult decision to place them in a new home.
When the call came in to see if they could move to our farm, my husband Jim took the message as I was on a quick getaway with my daughters. It’s not often you can get away when you own a farm – you have to mash in a couple of hours of retreat or a few days at the exact just right time of year but only after enormous planning and prep to leave the work to someone else for a spell. I didn’t count on coming home to adding a pig and two sheep to the farm, but that’s how it turned out.
The piggy has been introduced. She is Princess Peppermint – and she’s been thriving.
The Cotswolds are debuting on the blog now because I’m feeling great about them being here to stay. The beginnings were tentative. They are big girls. Very big. Like, 3 of my sheep in 1.
Lavender is the mama, 8, and Hester is her daughter, 7 years old. Diane wasn’t quite sure if they might’ve gotten together with the ram at the farm she was at, so I wasn’t sure if we were looking at adding to our lamb-count this May. Also, the girls had not been assimilating into the flock at the farm Diane was at and I couldn’t be sure that they would find it comfortable here, with a flock of Shetlands(and one Merino.)
The great news is that they are buds with the Shetlands AND the Merino, an ultrasound reveals NO pregnancies, and, happy-day-hoolay – they’re not afraid of me handling them!
So… hurrah! The gentle giants are here to stay, I can cuddle with them like my own, and I don’t know how we ever got on without them. They have made themselves right at home.
The Cotswold is a beautiful long wool going back to the Romans from the first century. By the 15th century, their long wool helped to pay for many of the great Cathedrals and churches in England. Their name comes from “wold”, hills and “cotes”, enclosures which housed the sheep during the rugged weather.
I learned that the Cotswold breed was first introduced in the U.S. near Albany in 1832 by Christopher Dunn. Albany, NY is not very far from here, about an hour. By 1879 there were the most popular breed in America and by 1914 there were 760,000 on record. However, after Merino’s were introduced from Australia, by the 1980s there were fewer than 600 in all of Britain and the U.S., and by 1993, less than 400.
A bit of trivia I learned about their fiber is that they are sometimes referred to as the “Poor Man’s Mohair” because of their long curly locks resembling the Angora Goat. These thick dreads are also used for Santa Claus beards and doll hair wigs -the close ups of their fleece demonstrates why. Also, their fleeces are up to 15 lbs. per year. Holy cow! That’s equivalent to approximately 3-4 of my Shetland’s fleeces, depending on the season! Amongst the many great traits of their fiber that ranks them high for hand-spinners, weavers, felters and knitters, they are also, apparently, hypo-allergenic.
I can appreciate how difficult Diane’s search for a new home for the girls & decision-making process would be and I’m always hoping to help create a happy ending. I spoke with Diane recently and reassured her that it’s going well. She was relieved.
Those curly, chubby Cotswolds and our flock and me – we’re happy!