Three bags full

I realised today that I hadn’t yet posted any sheep sounds. So I wandered over to their paddock, where Teggan was busy scratching her belly on a hay bale, and the other ewes were hanging out in their light summer coats, having been sheared at the annual Sheep & Wool Fayre earlier this month.

Katriona the Castlemilk Moorit.
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Gracie the Southdown x Suffolk sheep, who celebrated her 1st birthday in May and was recently seen walking across London Bridge with Stephen Fry.

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Recording no. 1 is less an example of sheep sounds – they didn’t utter a single bleat while I was there – but more an excerpt of the various ambient noises that the farm sheep hear: ice-cream van, children in the play ground, trains, a power drill, and so on. It begins with Gracie peeing, then there’s an exciting moment 1 minute in, when a bee buzzes around her legs. 

Recording no. 2 was made in the sheep’s night enclosure, as they were waiting to be fed. The loudest bleats are from the Castlemilk Moorits. 

Every sheep has its own distinctive bleat, which they use for communication between mother and lamb or with other flock members. They also bleat to signal distress or impatience when waiting for food, as in my recording. Sheep are very sociable animals and need to remain within site of one another. Apparently, their flocking instinct is so ingrained that in 2006, over 400 sheep died after following each other over the edge of a cliff in eastern Turkey. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4665511.stm

Which draws obvious reference to the lemmings suicide myth, created by contrived documentary footage in the Walt Disney nature film White Wilderness (1958):

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Lifecycles on the farm

SamanthaSweeting_BrambleSamanthaSweeting_Hazel_1dayJust four short weeks after the birth of Hazel, our bouncy new Golden Guernsey kid, we have had to say goodbye to Dylan the Southdown Sheep. With his distinctive shaggy coat and docile nature, Dylan was one of the friendliest animals on the farm, always keen for some attention and a cuddle. His unexpected death leaves us heavy of heart. It prompted children from the Young Farmers Club to share stories about other animals that have died, reinforcing the role that animals can have in helping us come to terms with mortality. I am reminded of my beautiful little cat Sanglier, who died in 2008, and the grief that I instantly felt for her, yet struggled to access a couple months later when one of my closest friends died. I remember the bleating of the ewes on the neighbouring sheep farm, in the days after their lambs were taken away. Whether or not animals feel grief is a contentious issue, but they have long been used by humans as part of the mourning process.

SamanthaSweeting_Dylan_4Dylan (2008-2013)

Some of my previous works using animals to explore death:samanthasweeting_bestilalia_9SamanthaSweeting_runrabbitsamanthasweeting_bestilalia_BAC_7samanthasweeting_pheasant_9          (Click on images to view projects.)