Terry is a rather handsome Exmoor Horn ram, with an impressive set of horns, and he has just had a short holiday in Cumbria visiting the massive Woolfest show. He was there with Lindy on her Exmoor Horn Wool stand and did a wonderful job of demonstrating wool on the hoof, in a super cool way, completely unfazed by the crowds passing his pen. Many stopped to chat to him and took photographs, although he did put his hoof down at selfies. The only time he got a bit mouthy was when it got close to his tea time, and he could see that Lindy and Julian, another Exmoor farmer involved with Exmoor Horn Wool, were so busy talking to people the thought of feeding him had completely gone out of their minds.
The Exmoor Horn Wool project is all about promoting and adding value to the Exmoor Horn sheep by selling their wool. Of all the hill breeds of sheep, Exmoor Horns have some of the finest wool. A group of Exmoor farmers, in partnership with the Exmoor National Park, got together a couple of years ago to form the Exmoor Horn Wool company and try and capitalise on the quality of the wool. Part of this involves taking stands at various shows, the most important of which is Woolfest, so important in fact that it required the presence of Mr Terry himself.
Exmoor Horns have been on Exmoor for over a thousand years, and are well suited to the extremes of climate often experienced on the high moor. Their wool reflects this, in that it is very robust, springy and with great thermal properties. The sheep themselves survive partly because they are very stubborn and wilful, can be quite aggressive, and will often see a dog off. Our sheepdog, Bruce, has had many a stand-off with a Horny. They can also be quite particular as to how many lambs they decide to raise. At the moment we have a Horny that had a triple and is raising all three, in spite of our attempts to help out by getting one on the bottle. On the other hand, we sometimes get a ewe that has two lambs, decides which one she will raise, and hands the other one over to us to feed. One year we had such trouble getting a Horny to feed any of her lambs we put her in a restraining crate, but she just got her horns under one edge of it and stomped off with it on her back.
In contrast, the rams are more relaxed about life. For rams generally this is unusual, and trying to stop rams fighting each other is a constant problem. Terry lives with two Suffolk rams, who will fight over nothing. When Terry was first introduced to them we feared the worst so we had them penned up tight in the sheep shed, not allowing them room to take a run at each other. We need not have worried. Terry turned to face one of the shed supports, rammed it furiously with his horns until the whole shed shook, then turned to face the Suffolks. The two Suffolks both became very interested with something on the ground. They have got on ever since.