15th century working class wedding dress

Montero

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Oh a further livestock thought - really primitive sheep have a reputation for not being able to be herded and "not having a flock instinct". They do have a strong family feeling flock instinct, but their instinct when dogs - aka predators - press close is to scatter and hide. They can be edged along by dogs standing well back, but are actually better being led - hey, come follow me to this better pasture I found.
Modern white woollies huddle together - the beloved flock instinct - and get slaughtered by wolves in far greater numbers than the wolf can eat because they are in such a target rich environment.
Reading Chris Stewart - Driving Over Lemons - and sequels, he talks a bit about shepherding in Spain - which does not have the traditional English sheep dog.
You also want to look up hefted flocks - and how sheep know their territory.
One way the sheep could protect themselves from dragons would be if you had plenty of dense undergrowth such as gorse that they can scatter and hide in, or narrow clefts in cliff faces etc. Having said that, sheep are little devils for getting themselves caught in stuff, so a shepherd might have to retrieve some caught up in a bush after a dragon attack.
 

Dragonlady

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Thanks, worth thinking about. I'd thought about magical dragon defences, but not practical ones like this.
 

Montero

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Few other thoughts - primitive sheep are browsers not grazers so they eat dock, brambles, gorse, willow though not bracken or sensibly foxglove. Will try most things. There've been studies done on worm burden and primitive sheep allowed to graze where they like in a field with a big variety of plants tend to have a much lower worm burden.
White sheep are better for having wool that dyes to the colour you want. Light and dark brown sheep hide better - or there is grey on a few. There is a mid pale blondish sort of brown that is exactly the colour of weather bleached long grass in the Autumn. Not really sure why, but there seemed to be Medieval prejudice against not-white sheep - just might be the dyeing thing, though I'd've thought that if you wanted dark browns and blacks, starting with already darkly coloured wool would make sense.

Eating the sheep - modern practice is eating lamb. That would be conspicious consumption in the 15th century - you eat mutton when the sheep is too old to be producing any more lambs or wool. Wethers - castrated rams - were kept for wool production (where that was your main crop) and gave a superior grade of wool to ewes whose bodies were stressed by pregnancy.
 
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sknox

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Much thanks to Montero for telling me more about sheep than I thought I wanted to know but actually did want to know. And an extra dollop of thanks for getting me to think about how real-world animals might have to adapt to the presence of fantasy creatures--not dragons only, but other sorts as well.
 

Montero

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Thank you for the thank you. There is a thread elsewhere on how real horse behave as opposed to some horses in fantasy and it bugs me when people get other animals wrong. Sheep are one of the more variable animals - and most misunderstood. I give a lot of kudos to Grimm - where they have shape changers and one episode has shape changers who are channelling sheep of the commercial white woolly sort. And they get one of the perils of flock behaviour down pat.
And isn't writing fun - thinking about sheep and dragon interactions beats most things. :)
 

Montero

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Small addition, which I'm going to add to over the next day or so. Many primitive sheep are not that large - but they can happily jostle each other and a determined sheep coming through at knee high on a human can jostle the human pretty effectively too - even knock you off your feet.
Anyway, I'm doing a small trawl on YouTube (that should be EweTube really) on films on primitive sheep that might be helpful.
Here is the first - Adam Henson of Cotswold Farm Park and Lambing Live presenter - introducing Borerary sheep (white) to Hebridean sheep (brown and white) by putting feed in a trough so they all cluster together. You can see the jostling, one Boreray being outright unfriendly to another sheep, and the nippiness. (No humans knocked over.) Sheep can surprise you with their strength, speed and determination.


- the black and white one is a goat.

Soay sheep jostling each other. Note that the ewes are just as likely to have a barney as the young rams - it is just less powerful. The group has young rams in it, they are the ones with the thicker horns.

Manx Loughton - some of the rams have four horns and are quite spectacular


And a couple on Big Horn rams fighting.

The second one is more a scuffle over an on-heat ewe. But note the terrain they are mucking around on and consider how people would do.

And two shetland rams deciding to have a barney with a fence in between them. They actually clash at just after the 50% point. Or more that one wants a fight and the other is just keeping an eye on the possible interloper - until they do clash. But rams fighting can sometimes be like cats - lots of posturing and not much damage.

And one more - quite different sizes and horns and I'm not sure what the breeds are.
 
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Montero

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And this is hopefully finally......

A lot of primitive sheep are 'roo'ed rather than shorn - usually in spring or early summer there is a pause in their wool growth, an interruption that actually means that the last year's fleece is separate from the new growth for this year. But it is still very tangled in them. They can rub it off themselves, gradually, but for their welfare, and to collect the fleece, people can gently separate it and tease it off like this:

If it is still firmly attached and it is hot weather, you'd have to clip them.

If you are going into any detail on spinning then you need to take into account "staple length" and also how curly the wool is (I think the modern term is Bradford count). I only know a tiny bit - just enough to know you need to look it up. (If you clip an animal that sheds naturally, you may finish up with the break point in part of the fibre you are trying to spin, so the thread keeps breaking as you try to spin it. Some people think primitive sheep's wool is fragile. It isn't, it is just misunderstood.)

Sheep do spend quite a bit of time having a good back scratch - and even modern commercial sheep can shed sometimes. Around here there are old milestones that get used as scratching posts - wisps of wool on them and worn ground at the base.

Mutton - reputation for being tough and chewy, but if you age the carcass for up to several weeks (need somewhere at a steady cool temperature to do that safely - autumn/spring day or a nice deep cave) and if you cook it slowly and moistly it can be melt off the bone. Cooking a joint wrapped in a pastry case (period name coffin) at about 110C for about 8 hours gives you very tender meat. Have to baste it from time to time.

Also animal fat wasn't just for eating. It was for making rushlights - rushes soaked in tallow, lubricating axles and waterproofing leather. A lot of rare breed pigs are criticised these days for being too fatty with people wondering why on earth our ancestors ate such fatty meat. They didn't.

It is a later period than you are doing, but you might find a lot that is useful for daily life in the TV series Tales from The Green Valley - available second hand. Leads are Stuart Peachey and Ruth Goodman - both re-enactors. They re-create a 17th century farm and live and work there. You'll learn all sorts of little details like using a goosefeather for dusting.
 

sknox

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Montero illustrates a key point: if you want the kind of tiny details that have cropped up in this thread, don't look to history books, look to re-creationists. They deal with that stuff all the time. Historians will talk about such things as well, but the information will be scattered, or hard to find. If you are looking for scholarly work, though, you'll want to look for "daily life" or in French, "la vie quotidienne". If anyone knows the keyword in other languages, do please speak up!
 

Dragonlady

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@sknox thanks! I have found recreationists useful for costume on youtube, will have to do more research. Thanks @Montero ! There used to be a website for writers about horses, that I couldn't find when I looked for it. Loads of useful details there, I hadn't thought about ageing mutton. (I think I've eaten it though). Another activity that would need good dragon protection... And I think I need to add 'healing dragons that have been mauled by sheep' to my character skill set... I'm guessing animal fat is the base of the ointment that my characters are using on injured dragons too.
 

Dragonlady

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Also yes, Ruth Goodman is ace, I think I can hear her voice from whatever my husband is watching in the other room
 

Montero

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Many years ago I did the odd re-enactment with Ruth. Knew her to say hello to and worked alongside her a couple of times, but not more than that. She is exactly as she is on TV - knowledgeable, hard working, direct, nice.
 

Montero

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And I think I need to add 'healing dragons that have been mauled by sheep' to my character skill set...
:D
Made me think of the first book of Jim Butcher's Codex Alera, where the main character is basically a shepherd boy - who goes in search of a particular ram and his hareem, and he knows where the ram likes to hang out. There is a particularly dangerous predator around.

Anyway, reminded me that part of the art of shepherding is knowing the different characters of your sheep and where they like to hang out. It is a lot faster finding them when you know who is missing and their favourite spot.
 

Dragonlady

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:D
Made me think of the first book of Jim Butcher's Codex Alera, where the main character is basically a shepherd boy - who goes in search of a particular ram and his hareem, and he knows where the ram likes to hang out. There is a particularly dangerous predator around.

Anyway, reminded me that part of the art of shepherding is knowing the different characters of your sheep and where they like to hang out. It is a lot faster finding them when you know who is missing and their favourite spot.
that makes sense! I'll look the book up, thanks!
 

Montero

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About the same level of varieties as cats. Timid, bold, friendly, mean, aloof, pushy and all very aware of their surroundings and nosy. Some cautiously nosy others shove to the front row nosy.

Isn't all sheep in Codex by the way. But where they do appear they are convincing.
 

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