Zwartbles in Somerset

Early August we spent the weekend with friends on their farm in Somerset.  It was David’s 80th birthday.  They had bought the farm after spending the first ten to eleven years, sailing the English winters away, around the Caribbean and the northeast coast of South America; quite an achievement.  We only saw them during the warmer months in England.  As well as Lin’s magnificent, lush garden they have a flock of sheep made up of just over half  Zwartbles  pedigrees the rest being Zwartbles/Charolais crosses and, now, an additional pedigree  which was a birthday present from his daughters.

Pedegree Zwartbles

The farm was once a park in the grounds of a rich man’s house and the fields have single trees laid out in a most attractive manner; chestnut, oak and even an elm.

Trees dusk

It was very hot when we were there and the sheep gathered under the shade of a wonderful chestnut.

Chestnut shade





Shade 2









Who are you




Looking at this image I noticed something in the ewe’s eye.






It was the reflection of the Discovery I was taking the picture from.



Post Parturition







Having lambs is exhausting and this ewe is recovering.









We arrived on Saturday for a barbeque, delicious desserts and champagne!  In my case sparkling elderflower.  Instead of bunting, pennants hung in the air:

Post Party

 I liked the sun shining through this one.



Final thought and a poem which is after the photo of the shepherd (it is only the third draft and will change).

Another friend, Becky, obtained  a black fleece from the farm, spun some yarn and knitted me a wonderful tea cosy which she then felted.  I like my tea to mash and a Zwartbles tea cosy keeps it hot, hot!

Tea Cosy

David communing with a Zwartbles cross.




Grey-grizzled, the shepherd walks ancient footsteps,
to the lambing shed, he wears nightshirt, wellingtons
and carries the shades of lanthorn and crook.
It is 2am.
Stars hidden by clouds, the air breathes on his cheeks.
The sound of night is silence, the rustling of a turning ewe.

He leans on the cold neat lines of a steel hurdle,
inhales the fecund odour of sheep, the smell of lanolin.
A heavy-bellied ewe hoists herself on to her forelegs,
reproaches him with beautiful, impenetrable eyes,
black fleece striped with last year’s sweet hay.

On the way back, he plans circuitry and positions
for cameras, lights and perhaps a microphone.
But from the screen of a tablet in his warm bed
he could not savour the odours of hay and sheep
nor feel the gaze of a sitting ewe as he gains her trust,
or exchange sounds and thoughts in the intimacy of night.

© Anthony Fisher August 2018