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rare breeds at St Fagans

Bernice Parker, 17 February 2015

We have three types of sheep at St Fagans, and they are all on the Rare Breed List:


rare breed:
noun: rare breed
A breed of livestock or poultry that is not associated with large-scale commercial farming, typically one that has traditionally been reared in a particular region.


Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Traditional breeds won’t give you the best, or fastest return on your money, unlike modern commercial animals, but they may have characteristics which make them better suited to specific local circumstances, like hardiness, disease resistance or a willingness to work harder to find food! Each breed might not offer the complete package to a modern farmer, but they are part of the library of genetic material that we need to protect to ensure a sustainable future for Welsh farming.


So if you’re in the mood for some sheep facts – you’ve come to the right place!
Eyes down for a game of Rare Breed Bingo…


Hill Radnor (listed as ‘at risk’)

A rare breed Hill Radnor sheep at St Fagans 


Developed over the years to suit the Radnor Hills and is probably typical of the old Welsh tan-faced sheep that used to roam the hills. Reference was being made to the breed as far back as 1911 and a Breed Society was formed in 1949. The breed remains very much confined to the Radnor/Brecon area of Wales and there are very few flocks in the rest of the U.K.
Key Characteristics:
Size: Medium ewes- 50-55kg, rams- 70-80kg
Looks: A hill breed but larger and bulkier than a Welsh Mountain.Thick white fleece and a distinctive tan face with an aquiline nose. Ewes are polled, rams are horned.
Hardiness: The breed is hardy and is well suited to life on the hills. Can do well on limited forage.

Llanwenog (listed as a ‘minority breed’)

A rare breed Llanwenog sheep at St Fagans


Derived from the cross of the Shropshire with various local black faced hill breeds in the Teifi valley in West Wales in the late 19th century. The Llanwenog Breed Society was formed in 1957. The breed is still centred in West Wales but has spread throughout the UK. Particular value is placed on its ability to survive in harsh upland areas as well as to make the best use of richer lowland pastures.
Key Characteristics:
Size: Medium - ewes- 55-60kg, rams- 80-90kg
Looks: A well balanced sheep with a thick white fleece and characteristic tuft or topknot above the head. The head and ears are black.
Hardiness: The Llanwenog retains some of the hardiness from its hill breed ancestors but is more suited to lowland grazing.


Black Welsh Mountain (listed as a ‘success story’ hooray!!!)

A rare breed Welsh Black sheep at St Fagans


A distinct colour variation of the Welsh Mountain which occurred from time to time in white Welsh Mountain flocks for centuries. In 1920 a Black Welsh Mountain Society was founded to register the breed as separate from the white Welsh Mountain. The Black Welsh Mountain is the only completely black breed of sheep found in the UK.
Key Characteristics:
Size: Small- ewes- 45kg, rams- 60-65kg
Looks: To conform to the breed standard a sheep must be black all over. A small, slender sheep although not as thin looking as a primitive breed. Ewes are polled, rams are horned.
Hardiness:  Can survive on upland grazing where other breeds would struggle and similarly to other Welsh Mountain varieties, the breed will thrive when brought onto richer lowland grazing.


(information supplied by kind permission of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust)

@DyddiadurKate - Alcohol a Dirwest

Joe Lewis, 13 February 2015

Ar y 5ed o Chwefror, 1915, mae Dyddiadur Kate yn sôn am y Mudiad Dirwest: “Mr E. H. Evans yn darlithio yng nghyfarfod Cymdeithas Ddirwestol.”

Cymdeithas Ddirwestol
Dechreuodd Y Mudiad Dirwest yn y 19eg ganrif gyda sefydlu’r Gymdeithas Ddirwestau. Yng Nghymru, roedd Dirwest yn boblogaidd mewn cymunedau anghydffurfiol yn enwedig. Roedd y Gymdeithas Ddirwestol yn annog ymatal yn llwyr rhag yfed alcohol. Yn ystod y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf, daeth y neges ddirwest yn bwysig a phoblogaidd unwaith eto.

Alcohol a'r Rhyfel
Ar yr 28ain o Chwefror 1915, traddododd Lloyd George araith ym Mangor a soniodd am effaith ddinistriol alcohol ar yr ymdrech ryfel. Roedd y llywodraeth yn credu bod gormodedd o alcohol a meddwdod yn cadw pobl o’u gwaith yn y ffatrïoedd. Soniodd Lloyd George am ‘the lure of the drink’ a dweud bod y ddiod gadarn yn gwneud mwy o’r difrod i Brydain na holl longau tanfor yr Almaen. Gallwch ddarllen mwy am yr araith hon ar wefan Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru (yn Saesneg).

Yn Awst 1914, cyflwynodd y Llywodraeth y ‘Defence of the Realm Act’ oedd yn ceisio atgyfnerthu ymdrech y Rhyfel. Cynhwyswyd ddeddf i leihau oriau agor tafarnau yn y ddeddf i geisio lleihau defnydd alcohol ymysg pobl. Yn 1915 penderfynodd y Llywodraeth nad oedd hynny’n ddigon felly sefydlwyd y ‘Central Control Board’ (CCB) er mwyn goruchwylio arferion yfed. Yn Hydref 1915 cyflwynwyd y ‘No Treating Order’ i atal pobl rhag prynu rownd o alcohol, neu brynu diod ar gredyd.

Your questions, my answers

Penny Tomkins, 13 February 2015

Hi Bulb Buddies,

I’d like to wish you all a fantastic half term! Don’t worry about your plants over the holidays, they will be fine! But be sure to check on them as soon as you get back, because the crocus plants can flower anytime from January onwards and so we should be expecting more flowering dates very soon!

I’ve had another brilliant joke from L at Thorn Primary School:

Q. Why do you call beetroot beetroot?

A. Because you have to beat the root to get them out!!

And more schools have sent exciting updates on their plants:

Silverdale St. John's CE School: The daffodils are about 5cm tall and one of them is around about 8cm tall! Prof P: Fantastic news Silverdale St. John's CE School you must be looking after them very well!

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: This week is cold again with very frosty mornings, but we can now see some crocus shoots as well as the daffodils. The mystery bulbs have the tallest shoots. K M. Prof P: I’m excited that your Crocus plants have shown through. Isn’t it interesting how different the shoots look! Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Ysgol Nant Y Coed: It was a very dry week last week. Also, our daffodils are about 12-14cm tall now. Prof P: Wow Ysgol Nant Y Coed, make sure you keep a close eye on your plants! It doesn’t sound like it will be long now before you see your first flowers.

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn: I like this job. Prof P: I’m glad to hear it! There are lots of other experiments you can try if you are enjoying this one. Try the MET Office website for some great ideas for half term: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/education/kids/things-to-do/experiments

Rivington Foundation Primary School: We think that the temperature on Tuesday,Thursday and Friday was because the sun was hitting straight on to the thermometer. Prof P: Wow Rivington Foundation Primary! What high readings for week 6! That shows summer weather in February! Well done for spotting that this is unusual and questioning why your readings are so high. I think you are right and it must be because your thermometer was in the sun and you took the readings at the warmest time of day! I suggest that you turn the thermometer slightly so it is not in direct sunlight. This will give you more accurate readings. You are well on your way to becoming Super Scientists!!

Carstairs Primary School: Unfortunately we are unable to take the temperature because our temperature monitor has went missing with all of the snow. Prof P: Wow, that must be a lot of snow you are having Carstairs Primary School! Thank you for taking the rain fall readings despite the wintery weather! I see these were high all week, did you have to take the rain gauge inside to melt the snow before taking your readings?

Hi Kirkton Primary School. Just to let you know that you’ve had the coldest weather reported so far for week 6 at -6ÌŠ!! Brrrrr!! And Thorn Primary School had the second warmest reading of week 6 at 13ÌŠ. I wonder how this will affect your plants! I’ll be watching both of your weather records and flowering dates with interest to compare!

Enjoy the holidays Bulb Buddies!!

Professor Plant

Your crocus flowers will be purple in colour with orange anther and stigma (the parts inside the flower).

Introduction to Fragile? commissions

Penelope Hines, 10 February 2015

With just under two weeks left of Artes Mundi 6 momentum is building for the next west wing contemporary show at National Museum Cardiff. Fragile? is an exhilarating exhibition of contemporary ceramics that will open in April 2015.

This show includes not only pieces from the collection of Amgueddfa Cymru, loans from artists and institutions but also several exciting new commissions.

So far two teaser videos have been released looking at the work of four welsh artists who have been commissioned by The Derek Williams Trust to create unique pieces for the show.

The four artists are Adam Buick, Claire Curneen, Lowri Davies and Walter Keeler.

and

There are also three exciting ceramic based site specific installations in this exhibition. Phoebe Cummings, Keith Harrison and Clare Twomey are producing pieces that will challenge pre-conceptions about the medium and encourage direct visitor participation.

View this exhibition in our “What’s On” Guide

There are going to be lots of exciting events, workshops and talks based in and around this exhibition. More details will be coming soon!

Adam Buick prepares his Moon Jar

Adam Buick prepares his Moon Jar (Image courtesy of Culture Colony)

Winter to Spring

Penny Tomkins, 9 February 2015

Hi Bulb Buddies,

I’d like to share a few pictures with you. Remember, if you ask your teacher to send pictures of your plants to me I can share them with other schools involved in the project! I’m especially interested in pictures that show the change of seasons, like spring flowers submerged in winter snow!

A wintery spider web at the National Roman Legion Museum

Daffodils at St Fagans National History Museum. Can you tell which plants have buds and which have flowers?

There has been some confusion over when to enter your flowering dates online. You can monitor how tall your plants are growing each week and let me know in the ‘comments’ section when you enter your weekly weather records. But the ‘flowering date’ and the height of your plant on the day it flowers are to be entered on the NMW website only once the flower has opened. 

Look at the picture above of Daffodils at St Fagans National History Museum. This picture was taken on a cold day, so the flowers haven’t fully opened. But, you can still tell which ones have flowered by looking closely at the picture. If you can clearly see all of the petals then your plant has flowered. Before flowering the petals are held tight in a protective casing and look like this: 

This is a flower bud.

This is a flower bud. Once the flower has matured inside the bud (and the weather is warm enough) the casing will begin to open. This can take a few hours or a few days! If you watch your plants carefully you might see this happening! Once you can see all of your petals and the casing isn’t restricting them at all you can measure the flowers height and enter your findings on the website. Once you have done this a flower will appear on the Map showing where your school is!

You can practice measuring the height of your plants to see how quickly they grow. If your plants are still small you can measure from the top of the soil. But, when you come to take the final reading to enter on the website we ask that you measure from the top rim of your plant pot to the highest point of your flower.

Have you compared the heights of the flowers in your class? Are there big differences in the size and maturity of the plants, or are they all very similar? What about the plants planted in the ground? Are these any bigger than the ones in your plant pots? Why do you think this is? You can let me know your thoughts in the ‘comments’ section when you enter your weekly weather records!

Once the bulbs start to grow send your stories and pictures to our bulb-blog and follow Professor Plant on Twitter

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

P.S. Don’t worry if your bulbs haven’t sprouted yet. It’s still early days and I’m sure it won’t be long! Mine haven't all shown above the soil yet...

My Daffodils and Crocus are growing too!!

Snowdrops at St Fagans National History Museum.