Friday, December 07, 2007
Our Ouessant sheep or rather moutons d'Ouessant to give them their proper title have arrived in England from Brittany in France after 9 months of planning and finding them!
Ouessants are the smallest breed of sheep in the world and also one of the rarest breeds. They originated many years ago from the Isle d' Ouessant also known as Ushant which is at the western extremity of Brittany with nothing but the Atlantic ocean between it and the USA!
We have had a particularly difficult year in which to try importing sheep what with the foot and mouth disease restrictions which were only lifted a couple of weeks ago and more importantly the Blue Tongue disease which has all of France except the far west of Brittany, the western coastline and part of the south under restrictions as there have been over 12 thousand cases in France, most since September....a taste of things to come in GB methinks. Well you may think i have been irresponsible bringing these sheep into the country but I can assure you they came from a BT free area and were transported through Roscoff which is also BT free to Somerset which is also BT free. They are now in isolation and will be blood tested next week for numerous diseases and only when they show negative to everything will they be given the all clear.
Now we went to great lengths on both sides of the channel to get the paperwork for this right and if you are not familiar with DEFRA I suggest a visit to their website with a plate of sandwiches and a flask and great endurance and you will start to have some idea what beaurocracy looks like! The wonderful Brian and Rita Edwards (pictured with their little patterdale terrier) who had collected the sheep together for us and kept them through the movement bans had visited the regional animal health office at St Brieuc to enquire as to the paperwork required, let their vet know and he duly came out to their smallholding and checked not only the animals for export but all the animals on the holding 24 hours before travel and issued what the regional office had advised him, namely a certificate of good health etc with each animal documented. We (Veronica from Yew Tree Horse Transport and me) arrived in Brittany on Tuesday morning after a rough ferry crossing at 7.30am and set off for Paimpol in her very smart lorry. We collected the sheep, filled in the movement documents and chugged off after a welcome cup of tea making for the next ferry, we even had cctv in the cab so we could keep an eye on the sheep!
Arrival at Roscoff was on time ready for the 3pm ferry and after the customs had inspected the sheep and the paperwork was photocopied and approved we were onboard the Brittany Ferries Pont d'Abbe . It was another rough crossing necessitating a visit to the on board cinema to watch The Bourne Ultimatum to pass the time!
We arrived in the Blackdown Hills at approx 11pm and unloaded the sheep in the pouring rain and pitch dark Veronica then driving back to her base in Shropshire and me falling into bed to get some sleep and await the arrival of the DEFRA vet at 9am the following morning.......part 2 to follow! (pics show the lorry on the ferry and the sheep on board)