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Back in 2015 James saw some Dutch Spotted Sheep on the internet and mentioned he would like some. I was speaking to a Dutch friend of mine; he has one of my King Charles Spaniels who made it his mission to find some!!!! He got in contact with Lydia and Eltjo Stel of Schaapskudde Neede flock and went to visit them. He helped arrange for us to buy ten shearling ewes who would hopefully be in lamb to two different ram lines.
We both went and took our animal transport tests and found out how to get them over here, ferries, Defra rules etc. However, the Dutch authorities were impossible to tie down as to whether it could be done by us so, because of the uncertainty, our Dutch friend Peter again helped by finding Theo Van Dejine, a regular transporter, and it was arranged with him to bring them. They arrived in November 2015 all in great health and we were delighted. Theo was even wearing clogs, much to my delight!!
OUR FIRST DSS LAMBING
One ewe we knew had not been covered and two proved not to be in lamb, we lost one ram lamb at birth so we ended up with four ewe lambs and three good rams. Luckily we could use these rams back to the ewes and each to two of the lambs the next year.
In October 2016, Pam and Andrew Parker, Kath Leiver and Keith Harryman came all the way down south to see us and our Dutch Spotteds!! We had an interesting afternoon and it was lovely to meet them. They were beginning to set up a society for the sheep in the UK to register and regulate the breeding of them over here. People with them were mostly living in Northern England and Scotland. We thought we were the first people in England to import them, maybe just after the first few into Lancashire!!? The society was to be called the Dutch Spotted Sheep (UK). The rest as they say is now history!
In 2017 we ended up with seven new lambs, four ewes and three rams; luckily some of each sex from each line!
Unfortunately, due to a ring womb, one of the ewes had to have a caesarean section, which never went well, as the vet they sent was unable to perform it and had to call in another vet.
The lamb was fine and is stunning, but the ewe no one expected to survive! However, with dedicated nursing by us she did and reared her own lamb.
James had wanted to show some at our local Agricultural Show and we decided to book in two of the shearling rams at the last minute!! As the show crept up we realised we needed to get them trimmed; they were scruffy, woolly monsters!!! Also they should have been sheared in January really!!
After a false start due to a misunderstanding we managed to get put in touch with a young Texel breeder who lived in Cornwall, but was willing to come and see what she could do.
She told us they needed washing last week! So how to wash a sheep? Worked out this set up which worked quite well.
Adopting yoke fixed firmly to some hurdles and a soft spray nozzle on the pressure washer! Baby shampoo for the greasy bits! Then they had to stand in the sun all day to dry!
Nic Prouse came and was amazing, coped with the scruffy pair and trimmed them to perfection. It took many hours and two visits, but we learned loads about showing them. We can’t thank her enough!!
We realised that it was a bit late to get a sign board done but with a bit of help from a lovely lady at Vista Print and next day delivery our stunning sign arrived and she even refunded the postage! I found two white coats from when James used to show and judge poultry and hoped they would fit!
Also just days before the show, the new Pedigree Registration certificates came from the recently set up Dutch Spotted Sheep (UK) Society!!!
The day of the show came, James and his good friend Ashley took them and set up camp in the back of their trailer; they had beds, a barbecue and even a sofa!!! Apart from a small fire in the barbecue (which turned out to be terminal) all went well!
They had much interest in the Dutch Spotted Sheep breed. The rams behaved perfectly and even the white coats more or less fitted!! They were in a class of eleven, Any other breed not separately classified, which all looked good to me! If you look on Cofton Flock on Facebook I managed to video most of the class!
Anyway we were thrilled to be third and fourth with Zebedee and Zorro, although ourselves we expected them to be placed the other way round!! All very exciting and a lovely way to end 2017 lambing season!
We now look forward to 2018 with great hope!!