The last thing I expected when I got up on Friday was to find sheep in Exeter Cathedral. I’d spotted a link on Twitter and wandered down to see for myself. I’ve always been interested in farm animals and have fond memories of visiting rare breed centres in the school holidays with my family, so knew that this would be right up my street.
Dartmoor Whitefaces are indigenous to Devon, in fact they helped shape the wild Dartmoor landscape which we know and love today. They have been grazing it for three thousand years if my memory serves me correctly. Not only have they done this, but they have partly helped shape the Exeter skyline – money from the wool trade paid for the construction of our magnificent Gothic Cathedral. The inspiring One Hut Full project
“celebrates the tradition and future of hill farming on Dartmoor through the story of Whiteface Dartmoor sheep and the people who farm them.”
I am full of enthusiasm for it; the short film screened in the hut is powerful and moving. I watched it four times. I was lucky enough to share the experience with a lovely lady who had farmed sheep on Dartmoor all of her life. She decided to visit because her great-grandchildren had the day before and thoroughly enjoyed it. Shortly after that I got to witness the Rams being handled in the Cathedral – both fine specimens but I never envisaged myself looking down the aisle after either of them, although it was a shear pleasure nonetheless! Sadly this breed is in trouble and in my opinion it is not just a matter of local heritage but of national.
This project is baa-rilliant, there is something for everyone, and somewhat sheepishly, the ovine puns are over. On a serious note; I’m hoping that the wonderful lady who created this project will be able to bring them to The Big Lunch in June. This is a subject I could enthuse on for hours but I can’t do it as much justice as Paula or the site linked above.