Unlike other commercial breeds such as the black faced Suffolk’s or the meaty Texel breeds that are familiar to most, we have a small herd of totally uncommercial Jacobs!
We love them because not only are they frustratingly intelligent but have wonderful thick fleeces and horns.
Often mistaken by guests as being goats, Jacob sheep can have 4 or even rarer 6 horns. If you have seen Henry, our principal ram with his magnificent horns, you could have mistaken him stepping out of some great Grecian saga such as the Iliad.
Each sheep’s set of horns develops in different styles as an individual haircut! For ‘Reg’ named along with his brother Ronnie after the Kray twins, one of his horns curled and was dangerous growing towards his jaw. So last week, we trimmed the end tip of his horn, so that he could freely use his jaw.
Ronnie and Reg were rejected by their mother shortly after birth and were hand-reared by Rose, who lovingly cared for the twins with feeds every six hours, around the clock. This continued from when they were just 6 days old, until they were 10 weeks. As a result both rams now have a very close relationship with Rose and even today, follow her around and eagerly respond to her call.
However, even with the close relationship, Reg, like all sheep, is sensitive about having his horns touched, so particular care is needed when trimming.
Horn is dead, like toe nails. To cut it safely, you move your hand up the length of the horn, starting from the base by the head. As you move your hand towards the end of the horn you will be able to feel the difference in temperature, where the blood flow ends, and the coldness of the dead horn begins. This can then be removed with a hacksaw.
In years gone by cut horn would have been used to make buttons. Today however, Rose has transformed the two toned piece of horn into an original piece of jewellery and created a beautiful bracelet.
This is the first time we have used horn in this way and is something we may explore further. With the potential for a range of Jacob sheep horn jewellery, and a local lady recently becoming interested in using the herds fleece for jumpers, it seems our beloved herd may soon have more purposes, other than just making our visitors smile.