In the 1920s the money my dad’s grandfather made from his small flock’s wool covered the farm rent for that year. In more recent times, dad’s been lucky if his wool cheque covered the cost of the fuel to deliver it. Things are looking a bit better these days and he’s expecting around £270 from his forty fleeces this year.
British wool is such a natural and sustainable resource and there’s plenty we can do to support its production. The cause has been taken up by the Campaign for Wool, whose patron is Prince Charles and I think the sheep like my dad’s Devon and Cornwall Longwools, with their long, curly fleeces are quite beautiful.
I went home a couple of weeks ago and took these photos (above and in the gallery below). That little chap at the top is looking so eager, because we were approaching with a bottle for his tea. The next morning, dad and I headed out to check on the sheep with sheepdogs Beau and Sweep. I recorded him talking about the wool price and some of the qualities he looks for in a prize-winning sheep in this audio piece:
Another day, I’d stepped out of the house, camera in hand, about half a field behind dad. I thought I’d catch him up, but when I got to the furthest field he’d disappeared. So, I settled myself down and started taking some photos. Ten minutes later, a shot rings out and I look up to see dad approaching from the a different field, gun over shoulder and the salutary greeting “Maxi’s back”. (I.e. the rabbit he’s just shot has myxomatosis.) Lesson learned: don’t try tracking dad.