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Counting Sheep: A Celebration of the Pastoral Heritage of Britain Hardcover – 3 Apr 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (3 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846685044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846685040
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.9 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 320,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Jacobs are yet another breed supposed to have swum ashore from a wrecked ship, this time a Spanish galleon in 1588. These were gentlemen's sheep, and commercial farmers would be disdainful of their being kept as ornaments with no concern for profit. To their gentle owners they were living lawn mowers that bred their own replacements and needed no fuel. But to a working farmer they were (and still are) little better than goats, and a damned nuisance. (From Counting Sheep)

Philip Walling has written a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable account of this shared history... after reading this book you may look at a sheep, or a roast lamb, or a tweed jacket, with the glimmerings of a new appreciation.' (Angus Clarke The Times 2014-04-05)

Delightful ... Counting Sheep deserves its place on the bookshelf of any lover of the countryside. (Horatio Clare Daily Telegraph 2014-04-12)

Book Description

Long before we were a nation of shopkeepers, Britain was a nation of sheep. Full of stories, history, trivia and humour, Counting Sheep explores Britain through its most influential animal.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this as a handy reference in order to learn more about the sheep I encounter when walking in the Lake District and the Chilterns. It is indeed an excellent reference book, but is far more than that.
The author is immensely knowledgeable about his subject but wears his learning lightly and writes with self-deprecation and humour. He communicates simply and clearly and his prose is at times lyrical, at times elegiac, as when he confronts the dreadful slaughter during the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 and its lasting impact on our farming.
He places sheep farming in its historical context and covers the sweep of history, from ancient times to the present. He makes the point, and I find it convincing, that many things in the countryside which we assume are gone are still there: they have simply become invisible to us because we have forgotten how to look for them.
There's a section on each of the main breeds of sheep, putting them in both their regional and historic context, along with a delightful and informative chapter on sheepdogs and a closing chapter looking towards the future.
This is a beautifully written book by a writer with great empathy for his subject, and I recommend it highly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A stunner, beautifully packed with information on so much more than the origin of a few British breeds of sheep. I cannot recommend it enough to someone who wishes to know more of how the sheep industry works, and has changed, in the British countryside. Only the final chapters sound like the score settling of a grumpy old man although they may well reflect the views of current sheep farmers and so are useful for that.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have kept sheep for many years and have one remaining 'lady' with me now from the maximum of sixty at my prime. She is now 19 years and very special as you can imagine. I do miss the whole shepherding scene and so when this title jumped out at me, I was hooked. An excellent book, one I would have loved, when actually in the midst of all the activity. I am going to buy the book as it is one I want to actually handle.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this for a sheep farming friend. He has yet to receive it...... I'm really enjoying the book. I'm not usually a reader of factual books, nor was I aware of having an interest in sheep but this is easy to read, interesting and full of ovine ephemera which will come in very handy should I be invited to a sheep farmers' convention. Buy it!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Shows how brutal and nasty the farming life can be. A book I will think twice about sharing with friends when the author gives full descriptions of shepherds killing lambs on North Ronaldsay or a sheep being eaten alive by fly-strike on his own farm.
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Format: Hardcover
Having stumbled across this title looking for something for holiday reading I downloaded a sample and then immediately the book which I found absolutely gripping - I don't keep sheep or have any connection with farming !
It is not necessary to have any previous knowledge or interest in the subject but it will leave you fascinated. Just as fiction can be an escape - Counting Sheep was a true escape and was a great holiday read which I am certain to re-read. I would recommend it to everyone who has never given sheep much of a thought; you will be glad you did. The images at the end of the book are a delight as is the authors style - precise but almost conversational.
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Format: Hardcover
Armed with a clear love of the countryside and a definite fondness for the peculiar, Philip Walling has trekked across Britain in an attempt to better understand the provenance and importance of many of the native breeds of sheep that thrive here. Counting Sheep is his account of the history and current state of sheep farming in this country and of the lives of those who make their living from the countryside. It is an interesting book that illuminates an important area of British life and Britishness that is often overlooked in the modern world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Essential reading for all DEFRA officials, this book combines the authors love of the countryside with a factual and readab le account of the development of the sheep rearing industry. A great deal of common sense is to be found here, coupled with more than a pinch of criticism of the governmental misdirection of the Foot and Mouth Crisis.
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