Here’s a Herdwick sheep. Sheep is a funny word, isn’t it? How do you know how many there are? Perhaps, for a farmer sheep only come in flocks so anything you’re doing for one you’re doing for them all, so a single sheep is a meaningless concept. This begs the question, why can cattle be cows – even a herd of cows with each cow an individual? Then there’s one pig that becomes many pigs. You might think that pigs are just so straightforward, but if they are swine the become as bad as sheep.
But back to this Herdwick sheep that seems to have sneaked down from the high hills and fells of Lakeland. There is a very special job for Herdwicks up on those high hills. It is their duty to see that the hills of the Lake District remain in the best possible condition and as attractive as possible to tourists.
All Herdwick lambs are raised by their mother with a vision of what the Lake District should look like. Each flock has it’s own territory and boundaries which each of them learn as a lamb and an innate understanding of how their piece of the jigsaw fits into the overall whole. They graze everything, grass bracken, heather, equally and constantly and maintain a uniformity that no other breed of sheep can provide.
We just couldn’t do without them, in fact.