Riddlesden Jacobs

A site about a West Yorkshire flock of Jacob Sheep

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A Ram Lamb called Gravy

There once was a lamb called Gravy…. and there still is. Although by all accounts there shouldn’t be. This is his story.

Gravy was born on 6th April 2015 as one of triplets. He was tiny, really tiny and when they were born we looked at each other with that knowing look. ‘He won’t make it’ we thought. But he survived and him and his 2 sisters were soon out in the field with their mum, who couldn’t really count. She often forgot about Gravy and Gravy often wandered off. He wasn’t really getting bigger. ‘He won’t make it’ we thought. But he did.


Triplet ram

Eventually Gravy even grew a little. Just a little mind. Then he put all of his effort into growing his horns, because a small little ram needs BIG horns, obviously. That’s not all he grew. As spring turned into summer, Gravy tried hard to grow in size and catch up with the other ram lambs born that year but it didn’t really work, he stayed smaller than most of the ewe lambs. When we moved all the ram lambs out and away from the ewes he bore the brunt of the others’ frustrations. Easy to pick on the little one. The boys grew nicely, Gravy didn’t.

Then just before Christmas we got a call, a call no sheep owner wants to get. Kath’s mum had been looking for Gravy for over an hour. He wasn’t in the field with the others and she couldn’t find him anywhere. There was wool though, a big chunk of it. We raced on and eventually found Gravy, he was nearly dead in a stream with awful wounds to his back leg. We wrote about the dog attack here. We looked at each other, the same look we’d given each other when he was born. ‘He’s not going to make it’ we thought. But he did. We wrote a little about his recovery here.

Brough and Triplet 2

Once fully recovered Gravy put more effort into growing his horns and his testicles. Nothing else grew much at all. As we stood watching over the gate one evening Kath remarked ‘Don’t think we’d even get gravy off that triplet’ and that’s how Gravy got his name. His ‘brothers’ went away to be turned into chops but Gravy wasn’t even worth the gravy we might have got. He was however invincible. He squared up to Brough, his Dad and would not be bullied off food. He thought he was top dog even when one of Brough’s nudges made him fly ten feet through the air. Gravy was a superhero.

Gravy’s superhero status was briefly threatened when we bought Dino. Gravy clearly took exception to this posh boy coming in. We put them in a field together once we took Dino out of the field with the ewes. Gravy ran at Dino from 20 yards. We looked at each other. ‘They’ll figure’ we thought. They didn’t. We had to separate them. Gravy wasn’t giving up his patch. Gravy is a superhero.


Two weeks ago our superhero’s time was up. We had orders for 4 lambs. 3 of the 2016 born rams and Gravy were due to go. Gravy, usually quite content to stand next to us at the feeding through, took one look at us and bolted. We tried to round him up and funnel him into the catching pen but he wasn’t having any of it. In the end we had to cancel two of the half lamb orders (or rather postpone them) and just take the other three. Gravy had escaped death again – but not for long. The next batch of lamb would be ready soon and we’d just take him then.

But that’s not how Gravy’s story ends because last weekend we got a message on preloved where we had advertised the rams ages ago and where I’d just let the ad running  – mainly because I forgot. Someone was interested in buying a ram. I responded a little apologetically explaining that we only had the rather small 2015 born one left really but he was welcome to come and see him. I attached a photo and wasn’t expecting much really but ,Gravy being Gravy, he impressed. He was picked up earlier today and is going to a nice new home in Bradford where he will, for the first time ever, be able to admire (and more) some ewes from the correct side of the fence and all that effort into growing horns and testicles will have been worth it after all.

Good luck Gravy, our Number 29 and very much our super sheep!




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Dancing Dino

img_1929That is not the title we had for this post originally but it is perhaps a little more appropriate to a general audience. Today is Dino’s lucky day. Today Dino was taken to the ewes. We had no idea how he would react to them or what they would think of him.

We grabbed him at the food trough and popped a halter on him and then Kath walked him along the path as I carried the bucket. Once at the gate we smeared the bright green colour stuff on his chest so we can see when the ewes have been tupped and work out the lambing dates. Then we opened the gate, followed him in and put the food in the troughs.

A number of the ewes came and had a sniff at Dino but then everyone tucked into the food.   The ewe that we call Stumpy seemed rather interested though and she kept looking up from the food and swishing her tail. When that got no reaction she went and barged her way in next to Dino and kept swishing away. Dino, however, was only interested in food. Several of the others came and had a sniff while he was eating but he ignimg_2014ored them all.

Once the food was all gone though Dino clearly thought he may have to give these ladies a little more attention. He approached several ewes and seemed rather taken with one of the shearlings. The shearling however wasn’t impressed and ran away. In fact both shearlings ran away and hid in the shelter and watched events unfold from a safe distance.

Stumpy wasn’t having any of the other ewes getting to Dino first. She kept herself in-between them and him and eventually Dino realised that she was probably his best bet for now. I shall spare you the details but basically Dino and Stumpy had a lovely and slightly hilarious dance round and round in circles – they weren’t at all shy, everyone was watching.  Then Dino transferred most of the green colour we’d put on him onto her.

This means Stumpy may well be the first to lamb around the 11th March. It also means we need to put more green stuff on Dino as most of it is now on Stumpy.




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Dino’s Journey

Dino has been with us for a few weeks now and has settled in really well. It’s about time we told you about his journey. It took a bit of organising as we don’t have a trailer yet (but are making progress – we’ve ordered it) and Malcolm was away and then we were going away and Dino’s previous owners were keen for us to pick him up. In the end Bernard was able to borrow a truck and he just built a crate from pallets that sat in the back. So we piled in – Me, Kath and Kath’s mum Anne and Bernard driving.

We got stuck in traffic a little but nothing too major and soon we arrived and were shown to a nice little barn where Dino was penned with some other sheep which were going to be taken to a show the next day. After doing the paperwork we got one of our little leather halters on Dino to lead him out to the car.

The halter was a little small so we need to dig out one of the bigger ones next time we need to walk anywhere with him. He was good as gold and we secured the crate and then were on our way. We were lucky with the traffic so the journey home was quicker than the trip there. Initially Dino thought it was all a little scary but then he settled down and actually spent most of the time lying down

Even on the journey Dino was quite vocal and he hasn’t really shut up since. He’s a little chatterbox. He always seems to have something to say and I don’t think he’s complaining. When we arrived at the field we opened the gate and then walked Dino out of the car down the ramp Bernard had built and straight into the field to meet his new friends.

The boys seemed quite interested and came to have a look almost immediately and Dino was also keen to meet them. We gave them all some food and that seemed to settle everyone in. Reluctantly we left them to it, hoping that they would get on ok. They did. The ram lambs are respectful of him it seems – he is a few weeks older than them and a bit bigger. The older ram (the dog attack triplet from 2015) is a bit more put out because he’d just got used to being the boss after Brough left. There’s a bit of pushing and shoving but nothing major at all. It’ll soon be time for Dino to join the girls anyway but it is nice that there hasn’t been any drama.

Here is Dino meeting the ram lambs for the first time


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All Sorts of New Beginnings

I wrote about my work related new beginnings on my Ramblings of a Legal Academic site. Well it has also been a pretty momentous week for Riddlesden Jacobs. I keep thinking I will get time to finally update all the pages and catch up on the blog posts etc but it’ll never happen – at least not in the way I imagine it to. So I’ll just start blogging again and do little catch up posts in-between. It won’t be chronological but at least I won’t get further and further behind.

So all sorts of things have happened or been done recently. Shearing went fine with just little Edith getting a little cut because she just wouldn’t stop wriggling. We have moved our ewes from field to field a couple of times and it works lovely now – they just follow me (or rather the bucket) out of the field and then they know where they are going and just take themselves to the other field. Moving the ram lambs out was a little trickier but in the end we used a wheelbarrow and transported them one by one.

A little while ago we managed to sell our ram Brough. When the day came it all happened so fast that we never really said goodbye properly and then he was gone. He’s gone to a good home though so we’re happy.

So that means we need a new ram for this coming breeding season. Well we’d started looking around a little bit but didn’t see anything suitable locally. We saw one lovely looking ram on Preloved but it turned out that he was Brough’s half brother so we couldn’t use him. Then at Kilnsey show we saw a few lovely sheep from one particular flock and decided to ask whether the people who owned them had any for sale. Well it turned out that they were prepared to sell the ram lamb they had with them and he is lovely – more on him when we actually get him home. Don’t want to jinx anything.

Well then the getting him home thing raised the transport and not having a car that can pull the trailer issues again. We’ve gone round and round in circles about this thinking about having a second vehicle – something like a Landrover Defender but that didn’t seem to make any sense at all. So new plan, part 1 of which we put into place today. We have bought a new car. A Mitsubishi ASX which will pull a small trailer which is part 2 of the plan. The trailer we’ve got we’ll keep for journeys where we need to transport more than a couple of sheep and for those we will still have to rely on the goodwill of others but this way we can deal with things as they arise and take the pressure off everyone. In the words of a very wise little creature


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Getting ready to say bye to Brough

So the time has come. I have, if I am honest, been putting this off but it is time to sell our ram. He is now nearly 2 years old and has been with us since October 2014. If you are looking for a pedigree Jacob Sheep ram then look no further. He’s your guy! Here are pictures of him throughout his time with us.

Anyway, with a slightly heavy heart I advertised Brough on preloved today. From the minute we got him he has made me smile and taught me a lot about sheep, and rams in particular. He has, with us humans at least, been the perfect gentleman. He has always been good natured with us and hasn’t shown any agression at all. He also seems pretty placid with the rest of the flock. He wasn’t keen on the first lambs when they were born so we moved him out of the field so the other ewes could lamb in peace and not worry about him but with us he’s always been lovely.



If we could I’d keep him forever but we need to introduce a new bloodline because we don’t have the space to keep him separated from his daughters and our flock is so small that we really want to operate with just one ram. It would be ideal if someone wanted to


buy him now as his sons are ready to either be sold for breeding or as meat now too and that would free up one of our fields completely. Given the rain we’ve had everywhere is a muddy mess and the more we can rest land the better!


So, our Brough, the Broughster as I have started calling him, comes from a good line of Jacob Sheep. He’s from a Nettlebed Ewe and he is a pretty good looking sheep. He is Jacob Sheep Society registered and we have all the paperwork. He has got lovely shaped horns which are in no danger of getting too close to his head and which are quite useful for grabbing him. He’s a decent size without being huge, probably about as big and heavy as we can manage really – we’re not tall enough for the really big Jacobs!

summer 2015 194

Brough is calm and bucket trained and he likes his hay. We’ve never had any problems catching him and we have often walked him in between the two of us, holding a horn each, from one field to the other – including past a generator for shearing! At two years old and with his second set of lambs on the way (due end March/early April) he is proven but only just heading towards his prime. I shall miss him and I also know that we were so lucky to get him and getting a ram with a similar temperament isn’t going to be easy.

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Snowy Sheep

We got back from our holiday and running adventures (see my running blog if interested) a couple of weeks ago and the day after we got back there was a flurry of snow. I took some snowy sheep pictures and have been meaning to share some here. The flock looks somehow different, woolier maybe and happy in the snow:

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Doesn’t the sky look moody? All of the sheep were glad of some food – partly I do think they were hungry but also I think they wanted something to do and nibble on. All were pleased to see some hay. I love the views across the valley – the ewe lambs don’t seem to notice it though.


The ram lambs were less keen on the white cold stuff and instead made camp underneath the hedge that runs along the edge of their field – lucky for them the feeding trough was there too.


Brough seemed to be enjoying the snow – maybe knowing that he looks good against the white or maybe knowing that ewe number 12 was just standing in the gateway watching him. I suspect she was just shaking her head at him, she’s seen it all before, but he seemed to like the attention.