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Rare and Inspirational

 
Our interest in rare and ancient breeds of agricultural animals goes back to when Penny worked in archaeology. While working in the British Museum she became interested in ancient technology and explored aspects of early European textiles. This naturally led on to an interest in the ancient breeds of sheep, and now, some 25 years later, this interest has re-awakenened. Much inspiration comes from watching these wonderful animals.
 
We are currently working on our range of ancient breed greeting cards and art - you can see a couple of them on our website: Hebridean and Portland sheep.
I remember many visits during my childhood to all sorts of farms and visitor centres with animals, and so have grown up with a love of all animals. Personally I’m really fond of the cows, and always look forward to seeing them at the Rare Breeds stand at the Royal Norfolk Show, but my sister always had a passion for pigs! 
Here are a few characters we fell in love with at some of the shows:
 
 
 
Rare and ancient breeds are an important part of our heritage, and still have many uses today; the sheep produce a wonderful range of colours in their fleeces which are sought after by hand spinners, weavers and knitters. Many rare breed horses and ponies are used in cross breeding to produce good riding and hunting horses, and of course the shire horses are always fun to watch at agricultural shows! Rare breeds also possess a great deal of adaptability and are often quite hardy creatures; the North Ronaldsay sheep are a good example. These sheep are confined to the shoreline of the island for the majority of the year and so survive mainly on seaweed, however it has also been found that if needed, the digestive system of the sheep can adjust to a non-seaweed based diet in just two generations! To find out more about rare breeds take a look at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust 
I think we're rather like these rare breeds - us, and all the other artisan designer/makers. We're an important part of our heritage, we're very adaptable, quite hardy, and of course fun to watch. We're all rare breeds, on the Watch list, but I believe we're no longer on the critical list. What do you think?
 
Emma