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Mike's Blog - Day 231

We moved the sheep today into the Himalayan and North American arboretum from the wildflower meadow. They soon settled down and looked quite content, taking the Agrimony seeds with them. They are normally in there until over Christmas and do a really good job grazing down the vegetation which gives the wildflowers a better chance.

I don’t know if I have said much about these sheep? We currently have 27, and have had 27 since day one as we count/check them every day! We have 15 of the lighter brown ones and 12 of the darker brown ones. They are all female. We used to have a ram. I’ll dig out a picture of him tomorrow.

They are  both a very similar wild breed of sheep and will eat the harsher vegetation that the fat, white, hybrid breeds you might see on a farm would turn their noses up at, which is great for conservation grazing. The dark ones originate from Scotland, these are “the Hebs”, the Hebridean sheep.

The lighter brown ones are from the Isle of Mann, Manx Loaghtan. Loaghtan I believe is the Manx word for “mouse brown”. This breed became quite rare in the 1950s. There were only a handful of them left.

I’ve read an interesting article about how these graze. They crop and trample grass. This enables birds to access surface active and soil born insects. The dung they leave also draws beetles and fly larvae, which are another valuable food source for birds when the ground is frozen or hard and the other insects are scarce.

There’s a lot going on in nature that is so obvious sometimes but you just don’t see it.