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After looking at all the sheep at the Salon d'Agriculture 2006 in Paris, reading everything I could find about French breeds and having another look at most of them at the Tech Ovin 2007 in Bellac I decided to buy some Thônes et Marthod. This is a breed that originates in Savoie, in the French Alps (not far from Albertville). Thônes et Marthod have been bred for meat, wool and milk and are known as very hardy animals.

One white and one black long-haired sheep.

I have chosen them for their wool, which offers the best compromise between length and fineness of all French breeds: According to information from Mouton-Villages in Vasles, staple length is between 15 and 20 cm (6 to 8 inches) and the fibre diameter averages at 36 micron. The staple length is probably given for yearly shearing. However, it is recommended to shear Thönes et Marthod sheep every 6 months because otherwise the wool felts on the animals back.

Every now and then there are black sheep in the herd, and I was lucky enough to find one: This is Martha, a 6-year old ewe. Black sheep
Toni I bought because she had the softest fleece of all the female lambs I could touch - she was born in March 2007. White sheep

Everybody says that 2 sheep do not form a flock - you need more than that. As unfortunately Martha turned out to be not pregnant, I had to buy another one. What a hardship! I helped a breeder of Moutons de Landes de Bretagne on shearing day and picked out a pretty ewe lamb. Here is Ella:

Black sheep lying down Portrait of a black lamb

Don't worry, they don't have to lie on the naked earth. Ella and the goats have the run of the garden and lie down whereever they want. Here they've picked my hay storage which is under cover and therefore nice and cool.

I'm currently working with Toni's wool and I like it so much that I want more sheep with wool just like hers. So I went looking for a male Thônes et Marthod - and I've found one:

Thônes et Marthod lamb Thônes et Marthod lamb, portrait

The wool quality can't properly be judged yet as the lamb is only 3 months old (lamb's wool is practically always very soft). But for the moment I've saved his life - he was destined for the freezer. Neither I nor the breeder understand why his coloured markings are brown instead of black (both parents have black "make-up"), but I rather like it.

Here's Toni's and Clint's son. He's called Stormy, for the night he was born in (I can't help it, it was a dark and stormy night...)

Thônes et Marthod ram lamb is drinking from his mother3-day-old Thônes et Marthod lamb

and Goats

A friend of mine had two angora goats who were unfit for breeding because too small. I gladly offered them a home. Here are Charlie and Lucy:

Angora goat portrait Angora goat portrait

Everything you've ever heard about goats and fences is absolutely correct - I've given up, locked up the cereals and let out the goats. Of course, that's not to be recommended if you want to have a nice garden full of flowers... I hope my raspberry bushes will recover once I've built a fence around them.

Page updated: 13 February 2009