Nice earrings

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I can’t but feel that being shorn must have been a bit of a shock to her, what with it still being perishing cold up in the high Cotswolds. But on the plus side, it has allowed her to show off her jewellery to good advantage.

Sheep being one of the long list of things I don’t know much about, I can’t tell you what breed she is, but I do know that she’s part of a very long tradition. In the Middle Ages the Cotswolds grew rich on sheep farming, with much of the profit from the wool trade being used to build the large and impressive churches (such as St James in Chipping Campden) which are known as ‘wool churches’. There’s a popular belief that the word Cotswold means ‘a sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides’ – though as with many of these pleasing stories, this has been firmly debunked by toponymists, who state that the word derives from Cod’s Wold, with Cod possibly being a variant of Cuda, a Celtic mother goddess who might have been worshipped in this region. I don’t know about you, but there are too many mights and possibles in this definition for me to have full confidence in it, and I prefer the other explanation.

Anyway, the breed of sheep that made the Cotswolds rich before the second homes market took over was called the Cotswold Lion, being large, hornless, and hardy, with a long, fast-growing fleece. By the middle of the C19th wool production in the Cotswolds had decreased dramatically, leading to near-collapse of the local economy, and by the early C20th the Cotswold Lion had become a rare breed. Happily, it was saved from dying out by specialist breeders, and its numbers are now increasing again; if you’re interested, there’s a page about it here.

I’ve posted a couple of birds from today to Facebook: the local raven at the owl field making off with what looks like a skylark egg (sad, of course – but the raven has to eat something, and Ocado don’t deliver to his street), and a buzzard which I disturbed out of a tree on the lane down to the village when I was on my way back home. Re owls, there were none about during the time I was at the field, and I’m told none were seen yesterday either; and given the howling south-westerly wind that’s currently blowing across the escarpment, I fear they may have left. If they have, I can only hope that the winds carry them gently.