The Sheep of Lalande

One day Nic and I were cavorting at the local Fete de la Pomme de Terre (yep, that’s a Potato Festival!), when we passed by the most adorable sheep we’d ever seen in our lives. They were beautiful, in a multitude of colours from the brightest white, through soft creams and browns, all the way to the black sheep of the family. And most adorably, they were miniature! It turned out that they were Ouessants, a naturally occurring breed from the rocky, desolate island of Ouessant off the coast of Brittany. Because they’d been left to roam wild on that island, they’d become a very hardy breed, who needed almost no intervention from their owners.

Nic gazed into the eyes of the most beautiful, snowy-white ewe, and said he wished we had sheep like that. So, as soon as he returned to England, I contacted the farmer and arranged to buy a pair, making sure that our ewe was the very one that Nic had fallen for. The ram was as black as she was white.

Aloysius our Ram. My first ever Instagram photo from Lalande

I named them Aloysius (heavily inspired by Aloysius the Teddy Bear in Brideshead Revisited, and a stained glass window of Saint Aloysius in our chapel) and Amarylis. I set them up in our orchard and used to sit near them every day, reading magazines and drinking tea. They were a delight. Nic was so happy!

One day the following spring, I arrived to feed them their daily treats, to find not two sheep, but three. The most darling black lamb was curled up by his mother, and could only be minutes old.

Surprised celebrations broke out across the chateau (we knew nothing about sheep and had no idea Amarylis was pregnant), and named the newcomer Baldrick.

Baldrick is unbelievably sweet, but, sadly, Aloysius’ character changed as he grew, and he became the grumpiest ram in existence. First he destroyed all of the fruit trees, and then he tried to destroy us. For the sake of the orchard, we moved them to a field. Now we leave them free to roam around the chateau, but only in winter, as Aloysius would be too ferocious for our summer b&b guests!

They continued to breed, until we had six sheep in total, at which point Aloysius and Baldrick paid a little visit to the vet, to stop the incestuous breeding! Some of them have learnt how to escape from their summer field, and love to join us in the courtyard.

Hannibal the Ram with Jamie, one of our volunteers who came for a week, stayed for four months, and become one of my closest friends

The chateau wouldn’t be Lalande without our sheep! I’m so happy that I walked past them in the Potato Festival 10 years ago.

Leave a Reply