The breed was developed in the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles. The breed was developed from two sets of stock,one originally black, and the other reddish. Breeding stock have been exported to the rest of the world, and once an 'extremely rare' breed, they are now only considered 'rare'.
Captain Jack and the girls - who are as happy as, well, pigs in mud...
There is some confusion about the origin of the Wessex Saddleback. Some sources state that it began as a cross from "the black breed of the New Forest" and "the Old English Sheeted breed", spreading through Hampshire in the 18th century. The breed is claimed to be one of the few British pig breeds not to have been affected by crossing with "Neapolitan" (oriental / Continental) pigs. If this is true, it may be one of those closest breeds to the landrace pigs which foraged in woods throughout Britain for centuries.
Its chief distinction is its horns – large and curled – in both rams and ewes. Ewes with horns of this size and type are unique to the Dorset breed among modern domestic sheep, while the rams’ horns are even larger and tightly curled in “regimental mascot” style.
The Dorset Horn is a big sheep, hardy and very active. It boasts capacious stomach and is an excellent “doer”; a ewe in good condition tends always to look as though she is in lamb and even the rams often look a little “preggie”. The fleece is of medium length, fine and very white, and the face and legs, clear of wool, are also noticeably white and show another of the Dorset Horn’s distinguishing features – a pink nose and light coloured hooves. This pink and white look is particularly marked in lambs where it appears to be intensified. A young Dorset has "hoofs of mother-of-pearl and a nose like a fresh raspberry".
The Dorset’s characteristics, the horns and the breeding rate, were bequeathed to it by a dominant ancestor – the now extremely rare Portland Sheep, found originally on and near Portland Island, very close to Dorchester. The Portland Sheep was first recorded in the sixteenth century and its origin is obscure, but it was spectacularly horned, and noteworthy because of its ability to lamb all year round – with up to four births in two years.
Suffolks developed around the rotational system of farming in East Anglia, grazing on grass or clover in the summer. After weaning the ewes could be put on salt marshes or stubbles. Swedes, turnips or mangels were grazed in the winter in a very labour intensive system with a fresh area fenced off each day. Lambing was in February or March, outdoors in the fields with a hurdle shelter or in open yards surrounded by hurdles and straw.
Boer goats developed in South Africa from an indigenous breed with the addition of some European, Angora and Indian breeds. The name comes from the Dutch word “boer” meaning “farmer” and was used to distinguish them from Angora goats which were imported into South Africa during the nineteenth century.
Further to our previous post Bees and Hives, we now have bees at Willowbrook Park. We were approached by a lovely couple who make honey locally, and asked whether we would 'winter' their bee hives in the park. We are hoping to have their bees in the park permanently, and we hope to offer their honey in our country store, given the obvious Willowbrook connection.