Norwegian on Danish land.........
The writer of this article was invited by "The Association of Spael Sheep
in Denmark" to inspect the 9 flocks, which are the most important flocks of
Old Norwegian Spael Sheep on Danish land. The trip became very interesting--
spiced up with exiting events and surprises.....
A telephone call from Kjeld Malthe Bruun, preconceived friendly opinions to
everything coming from Norway-, started it all. He asked, if I possibly might
think about a trip all around Denmark. He wanted Norwegian eyes, having a
feeling for, and knowledge about Old Norwegian Spael Sheep, to have a look at
those sheep staying in Denmark since 1981, trying to find out, if they really
descend from the old coloured Norwegian sheep.
Because of my earlier contact with the Danish "enthusiasts”, I was asked
to be a deputy in the leadership of the Danish Association of Old Norwegian
Spiel Sheep. This association was established spring 2003 at Lystbaekgaard in
West-Jutland. Besides I live just outside the door of our Danish shepherds.
The trip of inspection took place October 7-8. 2003 , and started in Egersund.
In Hanstholm, 7 hours later, Kjeld, the driver and the person getting the idea,
was ready to pick me up. Six flocks in Jutland were to be inspected on Wednesday,
and three on Sjaelland and one in Jutland on Thursday. The owners were well
known and registrated members of the Association. However, surprises came
about on our trip. We had to visit two more owners. The third one lived too far
to the south of Sjaelland. First we visited the flock of Helga and Olav
Andersen, some 30 kilometres south of Hanstholm. 25 ewes. All colours. Big
variation.Typical Old Norwegian Spael Sheep
We were like flying along the Danish heath land along the west coast down to the
old town of Ribe, founded during the Viking age. Here we visited the Chairman of
the association, Kirsten Kerrigan. We had our first meal of the day here. We
hadn’t had time to eat before. Kjeld was irritated because of the delayed
ferry, "Fjord Norway", which caused one hours delay on our schedule.
That because of our plan to have a look at Kjeld´s flock on Sheep-Isle.
Anyway we got out there in the middle of no-where
flying OY-PRZ, with Jes at the controls. He made a nice left hand visual
approach on Sheep-Isle, -the runway just some 210 metres!
That was the climax of the trip, when speaking of excitement and history. The
island of Hjelm (Sheep-Isle!) in Kattegat has been on the hands of Norwegian
kings for twelve years, seven hundred years ago. And today a flock of Old
Norwegian Spael Sheep including a ram, is grazing on this remote, windy island,
stuffing themselves with herbs, seaweeds and salt water.
First of all I have to say that my admiration has increased on this trip,
when thinking of my friends among Danish sheep owners. We were friendly welcomed
everywhere. And I have to say: In Denmark you can find the best flocks of Old
Norwegian Spael Sheep, very well proved with genealogical tables, followed up by
a strong will, and great enthusiasm to keep the Old Norwegian Spael Sheep pure
bred. As one of the owners said: ”In Denmark we keep the Old Norwegian Spael
Sheep, because we want to keep a typical old Norwegian landrace sheep. We think
they are excellent and the best.”
Absolutely every Old Norwegian Spael Sheep in Denmark comes from two
well-documented imports from Norway in 1981. Twenty lambs and one ram lamb was
bought from Viktor Nedrebø in Bjerkreim on the Southwest coast of Norway. They were
picked from his best sheep. The next 25 fertile sheep and a ram were bought from
four different landowners in Telemark.The result is that today you can find in
Denmark 450-500 old Norwegian sheep, directly descending from those brought to
the country in 1981.
I have seen myself during those two days that something more Norwegian than
those excellent beautiful coloured sheep can never be seen on Danish land. I
think that they are even more pure bred than the flocks of our sister
Association in Norway. Excuse me, Norwegian friends of the Old Norwegian Spael
Sheep, but our Danish friends keeps both the attitude and the papers in order.
Besides they have neither feral sheep (villsau) nor modern spael sheep to get
blood renewal from.
The biggest flock (75 ewes) belonged to Karsten
Lægdsmand and Margrethe Agger. Margrethe is a tapestry weaver. The wool is
extremely long and loustrous. "Perhaps the proximity to the sea makes the
wool even better!", she said. In fact half of all the flocks we saw lived
close to the sea.
Waiting for the ferryboat in the evening, we noticed a car with a typical
Norwegian trailer for sheep. A proud sheep owner was admiring four sheeps of some
meat race. Would have been interesting to speak to him, I though. Just before
leaving the ferry at Sjaellands Odde I had a small talk with him:” Is it a
mix between Old Norwegian and "texel sheep" you have got in the trailer?
No but I have 21 Old Norwegians at home. And home was only ten
kilometres from the hotel, where we were going to spend the night. We were
surprised and lucky. Kjeld quickly registrated that the four sheep in the
trailer were of English Leister race.
After visiting the last flock on our way back towards Hanstholm, it was not
difficult to conclude: Both written documentation, harmonizing expressions from
the owners, and my own knowledge about Old Norwegian Spael Sheep says, that the
most pure breed of Old Norwegian Spael Sheep you will find on Danish land.
Thank you, Danish sheep owners, for being so careful when breeding the Old
Norwegian Spael Sheep! You have to admit, that they are excellent animals!
More articles on Sheep-Isle by Ottar Endresen:
The herd instinct in sheep
Colour genetics in spaelsau