Last weekend I went to visit 16 year old shepherdess, Phoebe with her flock of Norfolk Horns. I was very excited to travel to Eye in Suffolk to meet Phoebe's sheep as I have wanted to draw Norfolk Horns for a while now. They are so majestic and striking with there dark faces and handsome horns. It is also really important to raise awareness of the Norfolk Horn as they are also a rare breed on the Rare Breed Survival Trusts minority list.
How long have you been interested in sheep and how did you become so involved with them?
I have been interested and involved with sheep from an early age, having grown up on a farm and working alongside Mum and Dad.
What made you choose the Norfolk Horn?
They are practical but a different and characterisitc breed, with their horns making them look nice.
How many Norfolk Horns do you have now in your flock?
I now have 17 ewes, all to lamb this coming season.
Phoebe's 17 ewes enjoying the summer grass.
What is the temperament of Norfolk Horns? Are they easy to handle with their horns?
They can be quite naturally unsettled if they are not looked over regularly enough, but once they know you they are calmer and easier to work with.
Phoebe regularly handles her Norfolk Horns, checking teeth, feet and ear tags. This also means the ewes are used to being handled.
How many lambs have you had this year?
This year, I had 12 lambs for the 7 ewes that lambed.
What do you plan to do with this years lambs?
As this years lambs were Norfolk Horn x Charollais hopefully they will all be sold as freezer lambs in about two months time.
2018 lambs - Norfolk Horn x Charollais.
What are you looking for in a 'good' Norfolk Horn?
I always look for nicely shaped horns personally, but they should have a good conformation all round too.
Do you have Norfolk Horn Sheepskins made?
Yes, we have them back from the lambs.
Phoebe's family run a business called 'Woolly Comforts' creating beautiful lambskins from their own flock of sheep reared in the Suffolk Countryside.
One of 'Woolly Comforts' lambskins on my sofa at home!
Do the Norfolk Horns make a good sheepskin?
Their sheepskins are very similar to the Suffolks and the Charollais sheepskins, being thick and varying colours from cream to more speckled and some darker brown, but they are slightly smoother usually.
Phoebe with one of her favourite Norfolk Horn ewes.
What is your favourite thing about owning sheep?
The satisfaction and pride at lambing time, especially seeing new borns.
What advice would you give someone looking to get sheep?
Choose a practice and relatively calm breed, to make handling them easier.
I would like to say a big thank you to Phoebe for taking the time to show me around her farm and introduce me to her flock of sheep. It is always so inspiring to meet someone so young with so much passion and knowledge for farming. Take a look at 'Woolly Comforts' website to see what a great farm diversification business they have created as a family >>> www.woollycomforts.co.uk.
If you would like to find out more about Norfolk Horn sheep the Rare Breeds Survival Trust have lots of information on their website >>> www.rbst.org.uk.
I am Izzi, farmer’s daughter and textile designer at IzziRainey. If I am not designing or sewing you will find me out in the farmyard with my cattle. I am constantly seeking inspiration for my prints, not that I have to look very far. Growing up on the farm, I have always been influenced by my surroundings and this combined with my passion for farming is what inspires my designs. I love spending time on the farm but I also enjoy learning about other people’s animals, passions and stories, which are also influential to my design process. I hope you enjoy reading ‘Over the Farm Gate’