It has to be said that these sheep have driven us to distraction, more than all our other livestock put together. They can be fantasically friendly, especially when you have sheep nuts, but as soon as there is a whiff of a suggestion of wanting to catch them, they are off. They are especially clever at finding (or making?) holes in hedges and fences as the grass is always greener … Chasing black sheep up an unlit country lane at night, in winter is not for the feint hearted but has been done. We have found them easy to lamb, mostly having twins with occasional triplets, they are good mothers. The lambs grow quickly on grass so could be eaten as lamb but they do produce marvellous hogget and mutton which is why we keep most boys to 2 years old.
The have a very dense, jet black fleece, good feet and basically look after themselves and are very hardy. Ours will eat bark and leaves almost in preference to grass – that has included bark from Pine trees. This is very handy if clearing trees as they clean the cut branches ready to use as fence posts, but can be very annoying if they get to your apple trees.
The fleeces are very dense but when washed come up softer than you would expect. The can be up to 4″ long and most are probably best used for felting, although we have not had any feedback from any spinners yet.
The main instigator of the trouble in the flock is Bertha – she has a wonky back leg and must have some problem with her spine as her body is twisted. This does not stop her being the fastest, biggest, most suspicious or best producer in the flock. Even two weeks before lambing she tried a five bar gate and only failed by 6″ to get over it. Bertha watches everything from a distance and only comes in for nuts when we have backed off far enough that we can’t get to her. She teaches this wariness on to her lambs. Why do we keep her ? A question we have asked ourselves frequently, especially in the rain. No one else would have her !!