And we’ve been noticing tiny black-and-white lambs at a farm down the bigger road from our house. The other day I stopped to pick up a blanket woven from the fleece of their elders.
The farmer and I stood in the sunshine enjoying the smells of warm earth, hay, and grass, and sounds of baas and busy birds. A stately llama, guardian of the flock, eyed me suspiciously. (Its main job is to prevent coyote visitors.) The farmer raises the sheep mostly as breeding stock, and he also keeps a couple of cashmere goats “to make things lively.”
These are Jacob sheep – popular 400 years ago as lawn mowers responsible for the perfect green swards we associate with English stately homes. They nearly died out, but hand weavers in England (fond of their mixture of white and black fleece blending in yarn to grayed tones) encouraged small farmers to save them.
These sheep are healthy in the way of heirloom varieties. (The farmer told me proudly that most does deliver their lambs with little help from humans.) Their coloring is distinctive, also their complicated horn arrangements of two or four, twisty or straight.
Guinevere (singled out as a “very good mother, she keeps her lambs near her”) lounged so close to the fence with her babes, she seemed to be showing off these fine offspring – tiny doe and ram (one with two horn nubs and the other four). We all soaked up the sun together.
I walked back to the car with a blanket – soft gray with stripes of darker wool – comfort for a cold night, warm with memories of a sunny spring day.