As I was driving into work this morning I was unhappy with the selections on the car radio. Naturally I jumped around to different stations until I decided my thoughts were better than the rambling and noise I was currently listening to. I reached down and clicked the off button…and silence followed. Scary silence. I chided myself for not having a single thing to ponder in my head. Big mistake. The flood gates opened and suddenly I was wishing I was driving mindlessly, perhaps singing along to a catchy tune. It was in that moment that I had a thought that made me smile.
That thought was change. I am not talking about life altering decisions, mistakes or right choices. I am talking about lovely grey sheep and how they have, and are about to make a difference in my life. These little grey sheep have been the subject of many conversations, inquiries and the cause of me stepping outside of my comfort zone. Let me explain by taking you back to where it all started…
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away was a woman who made a difference. She wrote the most beautiful stories about animals. ( of course I would be attracted to her life story, it is right up my alley! ) In time a book was published about her and her stories in a very whimsical form and presented to me in my Christmas Stocking. Clearly Santa did his homework there because I read if from cover to cover, and then started back at the beginning again. I never knew these things about this kindred spirit! I needed to know more! Much more! One night as the snow was silently falling outside the window and the kids were cuddling on the couch watching movies, I picked up the iPad and started an internet search.
Soon I landed on pinterest and be still my beating heart I was instantly in love. Who was stealing my heart? Grey Sheep. You read that right, my favourite color and my little soulmates bundled into a beautiful little package. I was bewildered as to why I had never seen these adorable little lambs before but it was like they were speaking to my heart. I glanced over to the whimsical book sitting on my lap. This woman whom I had grown up reading her stories was about to take me on an adventure I would have never dreamed possible.
I know you are wondering who in the world is this author and what is it that she did that involves these grey sheep. She is none other than Beatrix Potter.
As quoted from Wikipedia:
In the latter half of her life, the children’s author was involved with keeping and breeding Herdwicks, even acting as president of the breed association for a time. Between 1930 and 1938 she won a number of prizes for Herdwick ewes at shows across Cumbria. Upon her death in 1943, she bequeathed fifteen farms – approximately a total sum of 4,000 acres (16 km²) – to the National Trust, and per her instructions all continue to graze Herdwick flocks.
I showed these adorable grey sheep to my littlest partner in crime. It was agreed that we needed to have some. We studied Miss Potter, reading all we could about her and her sheep.
The search for some of our own began and ended quickly. We soon discovered that the sheep were native to the Lake District in Cumbria. We found very few breeders outside of England. NONE in Canada. Dolly in her young wisdom suggested, “we put some on an airplane, just like Lux’s daddy. He came on an airplane.” Knowing full well that purchasing sheep and flying them to Canada was outside of my financial realm, I told her we would look into it, cautioning her not to get her hopes up.
Disappointment ensued again as we found out there were bans and restrictions in place on importing sheep here in Canada. Both of us hung our shoulders in despair as we continued to admire these sheep that were, in our minds, wanting to come to Canada. We did so for over a year. Then one day I heard a rumour that we would be able to import semen soon. My fingers flew to the computer and I started doing my homework. I “met” wonderful people over the internet who were willing to help me. I can honestly say that the little grey sheep have opened a world of doors for Dolly and I that I would have never imagined possible.
Since there are no purebred sheep on this side of the ocean we are starting from scratch to say. I have found a lovely friend in the US who had the same desire as we do here, only she had a jump on the situation before the import bans were put in place. Since 2008 this is the first time Herdwick bloodlines will make the trek across the ocean. The process is a long one, involving quarantines for the rams involved, testing and then all that government red tape. We are anticipating our straws of semen to land sometime in October. Shortly after that Dolly, Grandma, Grandpa and I will be flying out to the US to meet the other breeder. We are hoping that some of her 67% sheep will be following behind us to take up permanent residence in Canada. 2016 will be seeing us going to Cumbria for the 100th anniversary of the breed registry.
This. is. happening.
I need to stop and tell myself to breathe numerous times a day.
Have a look at Ian Lawson’s images of these sheep and the Lake District. You too will fall in love!
(just a little tip…if you click the middle of the box it will open in full screen and it is worth it!!)