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!"