Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Sheep ... and a funny way of counting


You can't fail to notice the sheep in the Lake District.  They're everywhere, bred to live out on the fells (hillsides) in all weathers.  Now I can't pretend to be an expert but, whilst we were talking to a pair of friendly shepherds who were marking this year's lambs with dye, I got busy taking portraits. The wonders of the internet mean that I have fairly confidently identified these! 

The top left and bottom right are, I think, Swaledale (or possibly Rough Fell) sheep: hardy upland breeds bred for their meat and recognisable by the white mark across the face.  The suspicious-looking one bottom left is,  I'm pretty sure, a Herdwick, native to the Lake District and bred both for their coarse grey wool and for meat. (Apparently they ate Herdwick lamb at Queen Elizabeth II's coronation feast in 1953.)  They have been shaped by the Cumbrian fells and in turn they have shaped the landscape, keeping the fellsides cropped and largely treeless and criss-crossed by the numerous dry stone walls built to contain the flocks.  It's a little known fact that the children's author, Beatrix Potter, who lived most of her life in the Lake District, was a celebrated breeder of Herdwicks.  The lambs, top right, are more of a puzzle but they're not Herdwicks.  Herdwick lambs are pure black and look delightful leaping about in the fields.

My dad used to amuse me as a child by reciting the ancient shepherd's counting system - Yan, Tyan, Tethera, Methera, Pimp, Sethera, Lethera, Hovera, Dovera, Dick is the equivalent of one to ten in the North Lakes! Bumfit (15) used to make me laugh the most!

16 comments:

  1. Fabulous images - and that counting system dredged up ancient memories from my childhood.

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  2. A funny counting system indeed!
    I thought it was going to be a story like the trick my Dad plays on my children.
    We always count our cattle out of the yards, keeping records of exactly what is in each paddock and being able to reconcile if any are missing next muster.
    Grandad loves to tell the kids you have to count the legs and divide by four. Unfortunately they're nearly all too old for his tricks anymore.

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  3. My mum used to count like that!

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  4. Baa baa black sheep. They are interesting sheep up there. I love the funny way of counting, I hope it gets passed on down the generations.

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  5. whaoooohhh they are just tooooo cute!!! Love them!!

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  6. I continue to learn new things when I visit your blog, Jenny.

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  7. You probably know by now that sheep are my FAVORITE!!! What beautiful creatures they are.

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  8. Nice Sheep. The yan at the top is the same as the yan at the bottom, just the other side.

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  9. Tee hee, no there were tyan of them!

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  10. Lovely sheep shots -I don't get to see many sheep in the city!

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  11. Lovely mosaic of lovely 'faces'! :-) The twisted horns are fantastic.

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  12. I don't think my GF bread will disappoint you. It's tender on the inside and crusty on the outside. :-)

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  13. I recognised the Swaledales and was fairly confident to guess bottom left was a Herdwick, but haven't a clue about the lambs. Sorry.

    I can't remember where I've heard that counting system before, but it brings back ancient memories from somewhere. Great isn't it!!

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  14. They are all wonderful! Those black faced ones with white wool are so cute...they almost look fake...like toy stuffed animals!

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  15. What sweet little portraits of those sheep. And that is so cool that your Father taught you an ancient counting system. I see by your link that it was also used in knitting too. ~Lili

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  16. Well, you learn something new everyday. I've never herd that shepherd's counting system before.

    I've just thoroughly enjoyed looking over your Lake District posts and fabulous photos, most of the places are very familiar to me. I love it up there.

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