A close shave at the park

A TRIP to the baa-rbers was in store for Carlisle Park’s woolly residents.

Earlier this year a small flock of sheep was brought in to the park to keep the vegetation in check on Ha’ Hill.

The sheared sheep.

The sheared sheep.

And last week it was time for their annual haircut.

Stephen Comber, who manages the Flexigraze scheme which provides the sheep in partnership with Northumberland Wildlife Trust, led the shearing.

He said: “We specialise in an environmental grazing scheme where the animals graze for the benefit of the habitat, as well as themselves.

“The sheep were brought to Carlisle Park at the end of April and they are doing very well. They seem very happy.

“Once a year they get sheared. They do shed their wool anyway, but we need to take the rest off because they get hot and in the summer they can get trouble with blow-flies so we spray them after they have been sheared.”

Mr Comber’s faithful sheepdog Jess helped to round up the 11-strong flock before they were led to a pen.

The Shetland breed was chosen specifically for the area due to the steep terrain and brambles as their shorter wool does not tangle as easily as other breeds.

However, it does pose a few problems when shearing them.

Mr Comber said: “You are taught to shear a sheep in a certain way, but these are smaller sheep than most so it can be harder to get hold of them.

“They have quite a high-quality wool, but the trouble with it being black is you can’t dye it, so it is worth less than white wool. Because of where the sheep are grazing, the wool is also full of bramble and other rubbish so it costs more to clean it.”

The sheep are contributing to Morpeth’s In Bloom bid as a sustainable grassland management feature.