Sheepy Sunday, Wanda’s Story

Once a month I am going to tell you the story of our sheep and how we came to acquire them!

First up is our first sheep on the smallholding, Wanda. She is a Beulah Speckled Face sheep, which you can see more in later photographs.

Wanda turned up in the lane and on our yard just before I had Mati so three years ago next month. She was scared, alone bedraggled and very, very thin. We managed to coax her into our barn, but as we had sold all our hay bales that year we couldn’t keep her in there for long. Plus the barn was still a bit filthy from having been loaned out to a local farmer.

We called everyone we could think of and then a few more, trying desperately to find her owners. I sent a photo to a local lady who works for animal health and she came out to see her once we had put her out into the field.

She would come running for a bucket of feed and we managed to have a look at her ear tag numbers, which the lovely lady ran for us, to no avail as her last home recorded was on the English borders!! A heck of a long way from here! She also noted on her visit that Wanda was at least 4 years old having no teeth, and at some point recently had had scab. The scab is a notifiable disease but it had been treated, so we were warned to be watchful of her and to not let her out of the field, unless the owners came. Wanda was particularly not allowed to see other sheep until we were certain the scab was clear.

So she stayed in the field, and we put up signs as instructed. Then after 14 days she became ours…. so we got ourselves a flock number and became sheep keepers, easy we thought…..

After the 14 days were up Wanda decided she did not like the solitary life she was leading and tested every single fence, gate and hedgerow on a daily basis. She got out more times than I care to say! Remember at this point I was heavily pregnant with Mati and shouldn’t touch sheep and this continued till I had Mati in a sling for our round ups. She tried joining flocks in both of our neighbours’ fields.

We walked the lanes pretty much daily with a bucket of feed to round her up and bring her back. She happily followed me and the feed anywhere, but it became exhausting. One day we thought she had completely gone forever, as it took us walking halfway down the track that goes through the valley to the next village and part way back up before she heard me and came running for the feed. This last one was a mile and a half of walking, which doesn’t sound much, but just after having a baby, losing a scary amount of blood post birth…. still being paper white and having a toddler to wrangle along the way as well as babywearing it was enough.

We went round all the fences, gates and hedges and tried every field. Eventually we found a field she couldn’t escape from. The relief was immense! We had also in the meantime been speaking to a neighbouring farmer who kept sheep. He had a spare ewe…. and offered her to us as a friend for Wanda to help her settle into the fields and maybe stay put! Finally the friend for Wanda arrived in May 2018, but more on her in a later post!#

Wanda by May was fattening up despite her long walks…. and her fleece was growing back. The scab was completely clear. She was a very confident sheep, didn’t mind Sookie the dog (to be fair Sookie the neurotic spaniel was more afraid of Wanda!) If Will got too close and over enthusiastic then she would head butt him and put him on his bum!

These days, at probably about a minimum of 7 years old, she is still the most friendly sheep, coming running to sound of my voice. Greedy when the bucket comes out, happy to be hand fed by anyone and not fussed if she muscles in on the horse nuts too! She is now shorn every year, wormed regularly and has to have lots of hoof trims as her hooves curl in all sorts of directions! She could live to be 10-12 years old, but some live to about 20! She is certainly stubborn enough to manage that! She helps to coax some of the more nervous ones over with her enthusiasm, but also doesn’t like too many others crowding around her. She will liberally give out head butts if the mood takes her. I love her attitude!!

She is one of our bigger sheep and produces a great huge soft bouncy fleece every year! It sure makes some wonderful or should I say Wanda-full yarn!

If you fancy a bit of Wanda wool head on over to the Etsy shop, anything with Rustic in the name has Wanda fleece in!

New yarn!!!!!

So tomorrow the Rustic range of yarns launch!!

All hand dyed by me here at the smallholding and all the wool for the yarn is either locally sourced or homegrown!! From our own Sheep!!!!! So that’s gorgeous fleece from Wanda, Baabara, Wolfy and the three witches!!!!

This time the wool has been blended with a little alpaca and the natural grey that the yarn became is beautiful!!

My wonderful mother helped me out and test knit a huge batch of an early dyeing of the yarn making this gorgeous Ribbon Wrap (pattern link here)

The wrap was knitted up in the Silverleaf of the grey, Gentian or blue, Thistle or purple and the Plantain or Green colourways and is huge and so warm and snuggly!!

Other colourways on offer are the red or Bettany, yellow or Gorse, Pink is Campion and the orange is Valerian!!

The natural grey is also available to buy from Friday!!

This will all go live in the Etsy shop on Friday morning!!

There will be a discount code for the launch weekend simply put in the code YARNLAUNCH to receive 10% off all yarns in the shop over the weekend!!

In addition to the Rustic with alpaca, there is a small amount of Rustic, which is just the blend of the wool in a few of the colourways!! Great if you need a smaller amount for colourworking!!

There is also a new sock yarn colourway coming this weekend!! This colourway is called Lockdown Sunset, there are only 10 skeins available and I will be using 50% of the profits from this yarn to buy some extra cans to donate to our local food bank which is struggling with donations given the challenging times we are facing!

Can you spot Lockdown Sunset in the yarn mountain???