This week I was invited to meet some of the Southdown sheep from the Nepcote Flock, which provided the prize-winning fleece I bought at the Findon Sheep Fair in September.
The sheep in the Nepcote flock are owned by Graham Langford, Hari Doman and Martin Rolph and can be seen in several fields around Findon, where they have become part of the village landscape.
It was a typical English November day – damp and misty with drizzling rain – when Hilary Langford, Graham’s wife, took Louise (of Southdown Yarns) and me to the field where some of their Southdown sheep are kept. Graham had kindly put some of their sheep in a pen, so we could see them at close quarters and inspect their fleeces, which were remarkably clean and looked as if they could be ideal for handspinning. The sheep we met were this year’s lambs and some of them are used to being led on the halter in preparation for the show ring. so they seemed quite content to be admired and stroked. It was so quiet and peaceful in the field with the sheep that no-one seemed to mind getting wet.
Southdown sheep are relatively small and particularly appealing, with their woolly faces and legs. The wool of the Southdown is among the finest wools of the British breeds and it is used for a wide range of high quality fabrics, including hosiery, hand-knitting wools, dress fabrics and lightweight tweeds.
This shows some of the Nepcote Flock penned ready for us and interested in inspecting their visitors. From the directions in which they are looking, it is easy to guess where we were standing.
Graham is holding the halters of two of the sheep, which stood patiently nuzzling one another for nearly an hour while we admired them and inspected their fleeces.
Our presence was noted by one of the unpenned sheep, which came over to greet us.
Such appealing faces!
A close-up of the Southdown fleece, which has an average staple length of 4 – 6 cm
I hope that when the sheep are shorn I will be able to purchase some fleeces for handspinning.