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Sheep Ireland   

Irish Sheep
 Irish Sheep Ireland

I once drove over one hundred miles to visit with an American lady who was taking a bus-tour of Ireland.  This was by way of a favour to an American friend of mine.  I thought I made a great impression! When the lady returned to the US she was asked what the highlight of her trip to Ireland was.  She replied, "those lovely Irish Sheep".

Everyone loves Sheep.  It probably stems from the fact that as lambs they are among the most cuddly and the softest  creatures you can imagine, and as adults they seem to be the most docile and harmless creatures you will ever meet up with.  They even sound human with their little cries giving them the name (certainly in Ireland) of Baa Lambs.  And who, when witnessing lambs who have been separated from their mothers can fail be moved by the bleating cries of both mother and lamb as they seek each other among the flock or among the rocks and the heather of the mountainside.
     In rural Ireland Pet Lambs are a wonderful phenomenon.  Lambs that have been orphaned or inexplicably abandoned by the mother sheep will be raised by the children of the house with a baby's feeding bottle of milk.  Some enterprising children collect pet lambs from local sheep farmers who do not have time to feed them.  It is not unusual to find such children with three of four Pet Lambs to feed several times a day.

 
Irish Sheep Grazing (Wikipedia)

 


Our friend Tomás with his pet lamb.

 

To some people, a sheep is a sheep is a sheep!  But  the experienced eye can identify several different types of sheep in Ireland and many specialist breeds. Different breeds are suited to different areas and sometimes sheep breeders of a particular district will have a favourite breed that has proven its worth in that area.  Sheep are judged by their ability to survive, their ability to produce lambs, their ability to produce wool and, ultimately, their suitability for the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The value of sheep as a resource in our daily lives can easily be forgotten (unless your livelihood depends on them). We wear clothes provided by the sheep and Irish woolen products are sold all over the world.  We keep ourselves warm at night when we snuggle under warm wool blankets, and we even walk on wool carpets provided again by the sheep! Irish Sheep are the best sheep to count when you want help to fall asleep.

Irish Sheep Cheese has become extremely popular over the past few years as people become aware of the taste, texture and dietary value of these cheeses.  The popularity is also due to the availability of Sheep Cheese since farms started to diversify and produce cheeses directly from their farms.

Suffolk Ram  (Wikipedia)


Cheviot Sheep (Wikipedia)

Walking With Sheep in Ireland
One way to share a day with Irish sheep is to take a ramble on an Irish hillside,  Usually, there is easy and free access to the hills but it is always best to ask locally before setting off on your days trekking. One big No-No is having a dog on the hill and if you are anywhere near sheep you must always have the dog on a leash.  There is no exception.  It seem funny to have a small dog yapping at a rather large sheep but making sheep run can cause them to lose the lambs they might be carrying.

Farm Holidays Ireland
Another way to experience a close encounter with sheep is to take an Irish Farm Holiday.  There are hundreds of such Farm Holidays available in Ireland and you should have no trouble in locating one to suit your needs.

Petting Farms or Open Day Farms in Ireland
If your preference is to visit with a few sheep and lambs and you would rather not stay on a farm or climb hills then the petting farms or open farm days are just what you need.  Petting Farms  or Pet Farms are an ideal way to introduce small children to the animals, and some pat farms will have exotic breeds or rare breeds at their premises.

Irish Sheep Joke
Two Irish walkers in a Irish forest saw a large hole in the undergrowth. It was so deep they could not see the bottom, so they looked around for a stone and found a huge rock which they were just able to carry between them.  They dropped it into the hole and started to count the passing seconds as they waited for the crash.  Suddenly, a sheep came rushing towards them with a fierce look on its face, ran at full speed between the two men and dived straight into the hole.  
Needless to say the two men were perplexed and just them a farmer came along.  They told him that a sheep had just run straight at them and then dived into the hole. "Can't be mine" said the farmer, "My sheep is tied to large rock over there!"

 

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