Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shepherds, sheep and Monks

Gordon our first ram

I met brother Bruno and Brother Pierre and bought my first Scottish Blackface ram from Mount Savior Monetary Pine City NY over 15 years ago. The Monastery of Mount Saviour is a community of monks that live a simple, monastic life according to the Scriptures and the Rule of St.Benedict not far from Corning, New York.

The origins of the Scottish Blackface Sheep are uncertain. It was developed on the Anglo-Scottish border but it is not clear exactly when these sheep became a distinct breed.

Early monastery records show that monks in the 12th century raised sheep that are the progenitors of the modern Scottish Blackface breed. The monks used the wool of the dun-faced sheep, as they were often called, for their own clothing and exported large amounts to Europe. Latter records show that in 1503 James IV of Scotland established a flock of 5,000 Scottish Blackface Sheep in Ettrick Forest in the area south of Peebles in the Borders.

Today the Blackface is the most numerous breed in the British Isles. Roughly thirty percent of all sheep in the UK are Scottish Blackface. The Blackface epitomises the mountain sheep. They have long coarse wool that shields them from moisture and biting winds. They are able to survive the harshest winters in the most extreme parts of Great Britain.

Several types of Scottish Blackface have evolved over the years, but the most common are the Perth variety, which is large framed, with a longer coat, and mainly found in north-east Scotland, Devon, Cornwall and Northern Ireland, and the medium-framed Lanark type, with shorter wool, commonly found in Scotland and Ireland.

The introduction of Black Faced Highland sheep to America first occurred in June, 1861, Hugh Brodie imported one ram and two ewes for Brodie & Campbell, New York Mills, New York. In 1867 this flock and increase was purchased by T. L. Harison of Morley, St. Lawrence County, New York. Isaac Stickney of New York also imported a small flock about 1867 for his farm in Illinois.

Murdo is our current ram and flock sire and he is descended from Gordon our first ram purchased from the monetary.

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