Watch lambs frolic at a rare breeds farm Before farming became big business, wonderful varieties inhabited the farmyard. At Wimpole Hall you can not only enjoy a traditional farm setting, but watch a wild and wooly selection of lambs at play.
Counting sheep is far from sleep-inducing if you head to Wimpole Hall, a country house in Cambridgeshire with its own rare breeds farm attached. The thatched and timbered farm buildings seem worlds away from modern agn-business, where cattle, pigs, and sheep are look-alike strains bred for superior milk, meat, or wool production. Down on this farm are Gloucester Old Spot pigs that any farmer would be proud to include in the family portrait, along with Irish moiled and longhorn cattle. bagot goats and shire horses.
But ifs the sheep that are the scene stealers. There are Manx Loaghtan, shaggy-coated Portlands, ancient Soays, and the critically endangered Norfolk horn. There’s even the original black sheep, the Hebridean. During lambing weekends in March and April you have a good chance of seeing lambs born and can watch these rare survivors of an earlier age frolicking among the spring flowers.
Hear the call of the wolf The gray wolf has had a negative press for centuries. Always the bad-guy in fairy tales. it was driven to almost extinction in most of Europe and North America. However, recent conservation efforts may improve your chances of hearing one howl.
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The gray wolf was once the most widely • distributed mammal apart from mart A combination of hunting and loss of natural terrain has seen their territory reduce dramatically. Wolf lovers (and there are many) say that the animal’s reputation as a killer is unfounded, and it deserves to be part of our wild landscape. A similarly convinced anti wolf group argues we are better of without a powerful predator that comes into conflict with man and livestock. Populations survive in Canada and parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, and a •
reintroduction program has seen the wolf • • return to Yellowstone. Your best chance of seeing them here is to sign up for a Wolf Tracker program—a guided tour around the park in the company of trained wildlife guides. In Europe, the wolf’s fortunes are more mixed While reintroduction into Scotland continues to be debated, there are still pockets in remote regions including Norway. Italy, and Spain. The largest European population is in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, and several specialist vacation companies offer wildlife tours of the region.
THE WORLDS RAREST COW
IVA Enderby Island cows were survivors of a 19th-century attempt to introduce farming to a sub-Antarctic island off New Zealand. After a century In splendid Isolation munching seaweed. the herd was destroyed to restore the island’s ecosystem. One heifer called Lady and her calf were rescued.
Although the calf later died. Lady survived and became a national celebrity after she was successfully cloned. Breeding continues and Ws hoped this unique variety can be saved.
GET REAL CLOSE TO • A KEYSTONE PREDATOR The Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem. New York Stare offers educational tours where you learn about the history and ecology of the animals, meet “ambassador wolves” in an enclosure, or hike to see unenclosed packs during their evening howl.