Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Nude Ewe Project, UK

An interesting project being run in Bedfordshire at the moment is the Grazebeds scheme.

"Grazing produces a habitat which allows many different plants to grow side by side, and therefore wildlife diversity is usually at its peak in open spaces that are regularly grazed. In the absence of grazing our open spaces will lose their rich diversity of plants and animals. Small fragile flowers and grasses will disappear as a number of aggressive and competitive woody plants are given the opportunity to out-compete them for water and sunlight. The main objective of conservation grazing is to maintain the balance between these woody and shrubby plants and the species-rich grassland."
(Extract taken from a PDF published by The Wildlife Trust)

As well as preserving the land, they are using heritage varieties of sheep for grazing, so the project is working to conserve both the land and the native breeds of sheep. "Heritage breeds of sheep tend to be small and slow growing. Many produce excellent meat and fleece but because they grow slowly, they are not used commercially. Many of these breeds are now disappearing and some are close to extinction".

As part of this scheme, they have set up a project called The Nude Ewe project. Fleece and wool from these sheep are now for sale, and the proceeds go back to Wildlife Trust's grazing programme, and to the flock owners.

They are selling a range of yarn and fleeces: Beulah Speckled Face, Hebridean, Norfolk Horn, Hebridean lamb's wool, North Ronaldsay, Black Welsh Mountain, Wensleydale, and lots more....More info on the sheep here...

So if you are looking for interesting wool or fleece from heritage varieties of sheep, this is a great place to start.

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