Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit and Herdwick Sheep
By Judy Evans
May 5, 2017 3:05am CST
This post is for Claudia Kirkland (@CRK109) who revealed that she likes hearing about different sheep breeds. When we were in the Lake District in England I was thrilled to see some Herdwicks. It doesn't take much to please some people, does it? The Herdwick is a coarse-woolled hill breed. What is particularly interesting about this and some other indigenous British breeds is that they are hefted or 'heafed' meaning they instinctively keep to their own area of the country. Mothers stay on their own 'patch' and the lambs learn the heaf from their mothers. Fences aren't necessary and, after shearing or dipping, the flocks immediately return to their own patch on the common land. 'Herdwyck' actually means 'sheep pasture' and the word is documented as far back as the 12th century. Beatrix Potter (creator of Peter Rabbit and his pals) was a great fan of the breed and owned property in this area. When she bequeathed her farms to the National Trust, a stipulation was that the farms were to be stocked with Herdwicks. In 2002 entire flocks throughout Britain were eradicated during the foot and mouth crisis. Because the animals heaf, it was not easy to replace stock. Lambs are born almost black and become lighter as they grow. The fleece is virtually two-in-one with an undercoat of fine wool and a dark, coarse outer fleece which is heavy and dense and a strong, coarse mane round the neck and top of the shoulder. The wool is of little commercial value or use, although some is used for carpet making and for speciality fabrics. The meat is very flavoursome and of high quality. Native breeds play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of life in their particular regions. Photo copyright Vince Evans
27 people like this
13 May 17
@Lupita234 Yes, she's an expert on literal sheep. Here is a very intriguing verse about a different kind of sheep. John 10:16 New International Version (NIV) 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
6 May 17
i had so much fun reading this. My uncle has a farm but and he has goats and sheep too on his farm. Unfortunately I have no photos of the animals. You are right the last time we went on the farm I noticed that the lamb was black and i was having a discussion with my cousin on this
• United States
6 May 17
Didn't know that. Interesting pic, though. I read a passage from something that was supposed to be set in rural New Zealand once. It was nicely written, but after a couple of chapters, I noticed there was no mention of sheep. I told the author there was something important missing.
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
5 May 17
I've never heard of that breed, but it is very interesting and especially how they 'heaf' their own plot of land. I've also never seen that kind of coloring on a sheep. That one is a beauty. Great picture of him.