The Story of the Christmas Sheep
The Turnock family & Simply Club members, from Troutsdale Farm near Leek have been sharing the story of the Christmas Sheep, a flock of very special rare breed Shropshire Sheep called Evie’s Flock at their farm on Blackshaw Moor in the Staffordshire Peak District.
In the spirit of Christmas, where many a sheep has played its part in Nativity scenes across Britain, Evie’s Flock has now been featured on BBC television and radio in a celebration of rare breed flocks that bring many, often unknown benefits, as well as a bit of festive magic.
Originating from the hills of North Staffordshire and the Shropshire border, the Christmas or Shropshire breed of sheep is the oldest pedigree registered breed in the UK and the 2nd oldest in the world. They have become known as the Christmas Sheep because of their very special tri-purpose nature, meaning they are bred for meat, wool and are tree friendly. The Christmas Sheep are able to graze in Christmas & other tree plantations and orchards without damaging the trees.
Ray, Barbara and Kathryn Tunnock started their special flock with just 3 sheep and now Evie’s Flock is some 300 who graze across the farm and in their Christmas Tree plantation. This eco-friendly way to manage the land without need for chemicals or sprays to keep the grass lower is part of a wider ethos across the farm.
As well as breeding their sheep for delicious lamb boxes (insulated with wool of course!), they also produce fine hand knitting wool which the British Wool Marketing Board describe as, “fine with a pleasantly soft handle and almost free from kemp and great and black fibres”. Evie’s Flock can also be observed by visitors to their two award winning. eco-friendly converted holiday barns.
The Turnock family said, “The Christmas Sheep breed used to be known as the Staffordshire/Shropshire Breed, so it is local traditional breed to the Staffordshire area (although the Staffordshire bit has got dropped throughout the years!) and it is the oldest pedigree registered breed in the country. The Shropshire Sheep Breed Association being the oldest pedigree Breed Society in the UK and 2nd oldest in the world ….. now that is real traceability!”
You can watch their interview and Evie’s Flock on the BBC iPlayer (22 minutes into the programme) or head to their website were you can find out more about their growing wool products, Christmas trees and lamb boxes as well of course information about how you can stay on the farm!