Dusk and Dana, our Leicester Longwool Sheep, joined the family in August. We already had two Suffolks, gifts from a friend who had too many march lambs. We bottle fed those sheep and they lived in our house for their first few weeks. This made them affectionate, like dogs. The Leicesters are much sheepier. They are wary and hesitant to approach people– like regular sheep, they’re skittish. But they are lovely to watch graze– serene, and completely beautiful. Their fleece will reach 14 cm before they’re sheared in the summer, and their long locks stay separated, giving a sheep wearing it’s year-old fleece a distinctly Rastafarian look.
We’ll sell some of our fleece in the summer, but hold back some for felting and doll-making. And in a year, when we acquire a Leisceter ram, we’ll cross-breed him with the Suffolks to improve their wool.
I chose Leicesters because they looked so iconically sheepy– their fleece looks like a dream sheep. But they’re also historically resonant. They were the first breed created with a contemporary understanding of genetics. In the eighteenth-century, they were cutting edge. Before being waylaid by the romance of, well, romance, children, and living in the mountains, I was on track to be a professor of eighteenth-century English literature, specializing in landscape. These were the exact right breed to scratch my academic itch!