Steve has just put a small herd of Dartmoor on the field in front of River View Pateley. They have a with a job to do: eat off the grass left over from hay mowing ready for planting wild-flowers.
It is part of a project we at River View are running in partnership with the AONB, trying to restore the land to more traditional Dales agriculture, to make it pretty and productive at the same time. Having a small-scale farmer to partner us is a real boon. Looking after rare breeds means he can afford to have a different business model from large scale farmers. Owners of milk herds need to manage the land as cost-effectively as possible because of the tight margins on their sales; they can't always afford the time.
The Dartmoors are smaller, woollier and more timid than their cousins on other fields. They'll come to you if you appear in the distance but as soon as you turn to face them, they run away. It brings out your protective instincts when you watch them.
For me, it has brought out a semi obsessive urge to count them every time I go outside. I can't walk past without checking that they are all there, present and accounted for, and that none of them have got themselves lost by the water or in the marsh. I know it's stupid, given these sheep have been living in this kind of country for generations, but it's a habit I am finding it hard to break.
Oh well, at least it keeps my mind active...
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