Sending Derbyshire Gritstone sheep to the Bavarian Alps

PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 March 2016

Joe and Marion at home in Bavaria with their flock

Joe and Marion at home in Bavaria with their flock

as submitted by Ruth Downing

Derbyshire Life visits Dale Cottage Farm in Wessington to say farewell to some Derbyshire Gritstone sheep

Joe and Marion inspecting the sheep at WessingtonJoe and Marion inspecting the sheep at Wessington

It’s 25 years since Rob Evans of Dale Cottage Farm, Wessington, left a job in the construction industry to be a farmer. He had no hesitation in choosing a local breed and has farmed Derbyshire Gritstone hill sheep since 1990. From an initial investment of six ewes and a ram, he is currently running a pedigree flock of 250 ewes and has won prizes at shows and breed sales for his animals. He combines running his flock with the breeding and training of working sheepdogs and is used to seeing his Dalebrook Border Collies sold to working homes all around the country. However, recently Rob saw six of his pedigree Derbyshire Gritstone sheep head off much further afield – to a new home in the Bavarian Alps. It is hoped that the five ewes and one ram lamb will form the basis of a flock for their new owners Joe and Marion Tetley.

For Joe Tetley the sheep will be a reminder of home. Joe is originally from Wingerworth and met his wife Marion whilst serving with the British Army in Bavaria. They married in 1988 and now live on a smallholding in Bavaria at Allgau near the border with Austria, where Joe works as a farrier. Marion is kept fully occupied looking after the farm and various livestock, which includes a flock of Krainer Steinschafe sheep – a rare breed that is one of the oldest alpine sheep breeds – two Australian kelpies and two Australian Shepherd dogs.

When they made the decision to increase their flock, Joe and Marion wanted to have some of the breed Joe used to see when he was growing up in Derbyshire. The internet came into its own and following a search they contacted Rob and arranged to come over last August to visit the farm and select six animals. Luckily their visit coincided with Hope Show, where Rob exhibits Gritstone sheep each year, which gave them a great opportunity to get in touch with the local farming community.

After selecting five ewes and a ram lamb, Joe and Marion returned home to make arrangements for the transportation of the sheep. Following many weeks of phone calls, emails and veterinary consultations, which involved blood tests for all the sheep (for one thing, there must be evidence that all sheep imported into Germany are resistant to a disease called Scrapie), Joe and Marion returned to Derbyshire in November to collect them.

Rob Evans with Joe and Marion on their visit to collect the sheepRob Evans with Joe and Marion on their visit to collect the sheep

An 800-mile journey later and the sheep were happily settled into their new home with the prospect of Derbyshire Gritstone lambs gambolling in the Alpine pastures this spring. @dalecottagefarm

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