sunshine and sheep

It is the end of February, and after a wet and windy day yesterday, today the sun shone all day, here at Low Hall holiday cottage.

Here are some photographs from the garden, taken around 2pm today.

The first primroses are out, making a bright splash of colour near the stream.

Primroses 26 February Low Hall Cottage

The snowdrops are still very beautiful.

snowdrops and stream Low Hall Holiday Cottage

and the very first daffodils are just beginning to open.

First daffodils begin to open at Low Hall Lake District country cottageBuds are beginning to emerge everywhere.

As I left Low Hall this afternoon to drive into Cockermouth, one of our neighbours was herding his sheep in the traditional way, using highly trained dogs, who answer to a series of whistles and calls to keep the sheep together and guide them to their new grazing.  This next photograph was taken this afternoon on the lane that leads to the driveway into Low Hall Lake District Cottage.

Traditional Cumbria scene near Low Hall

Cockermouth remains an important centre for traditional sheep farming and upland sheep farming.  The agricultural market is a a major centre for the sale of rams (or “tups” as they are known in Cumbria).  The traditional Cumbrian breed is the Herdwick.  The name is thought to originate from the old Norse “herd-vik” meaning sheep farm.  Other local breeds are the Swaledale, and in the South of the county, rough fell sheep.

For those of you who underestimated the overall intelligence of our woolly friends, please note from the above that each of these breeds has already established its own website and the sheepy versions of Facebook and Twitter can only be a few “Baaaa’s” away.  (GROAN)

If you are more interested in purchasing sheepy produce than in the sheep themselves, there is a large selection of knitwear to purchase year round from Cockermouths own “Sheep and Wool Centre”, (latterly renamed as “The Shepherds Hotel”) which gave its name to the “Sheep and Wool Centre roundabout”, as you enter Cockermouth from the A66.  You pass it if you are travelling between Low Hall Holiday Cottage and Cockermouth and it does pretty good, well priced bacon butties, bacon and eggs and other traditional English breakfast produce if you don’t want to cook.

For all you knitters, each year, Cockermouth hosts “Woolfest” (the original and best); a large national festival celebrating wool and other natural yarns, that brings together knitters, as well as other craftspeople from all over the nation (and beyond).  The dates for 2011 are 24th and 25th June at Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 0QQ.  The Friday evening there is a supper and spin-in.  

And for all you  sheep shearers out there in July, Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Market host “Lakeland Shears”, an international sheep shearing competition.  The year I went to watch, there were shearers from Australia, New Zealand, all over the British Isles.  It is a very lively and competitive event.

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