Counting Sheep: A Celebration of the Pastoral Heritage of Britain by Philip Walling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Normally when I think of sheep, the first thing that springs to mind is the hilarious series by Aardman, Shaun the Sheep. That aside, sheep have had a long history in this country from the ancient wild Jacob breeds, the domesticated breeds that the Romans brought over 2000 years ago, right up to the modern breeds and crosses that populate our hills and pastures still now. Way back in the past, sheep drove our economy and people made vast fortunes supplying, what was considered, the finest wool in the world. The ovine economy helped define our culture and landscape too, the Wooksack can be found in the Lords (now they have removed the horsehair), and the husbandry of sheep played a significant role in our social structures and infrastructure.
The work has always been hard, as Walling finds out as he meets the shepherds and enthusiasts who own and care for the modern day breeds today in our countryside. They still support our rural economy today, though they have much less impact financially than they did. In his journey back to our heritage he re-discovers the landscape today and learns of the modern challenges behind sheep farming today. It is not a bad book overall, with thought provoking writing. I really think though that I really don’t need to know any more about sheep now though.
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