December 25, 2023

Keeping the Flock, A Tradition!

Sweet Shepherdess!

Shepherdess Poppy with her cosset sheep.

The keeping of the flock has been a tradition in my family through the generations, documented back to at least the 1500s, and undoubtedly beyond. Along with their sheep raising, many in my family had equipment for industrious home spinning and weaving.

Jasper Riddlesdale, my 13th great grandfather, of Boxford, Suffolk, England had sheep on his farm that he mentioned in his will dated 1552.


One of my Scottish ancestors in Connecticut:

One of the things listed in the inventory was a cosset sheep.

A cosset was a motherless or rejected lamb hand fed by people; a pet sheep.


In a genealogy published in Boston in 1874, Ebenezer Weaver Peirce b. 1822, who was likely related to several of our ancestral families, wrote this story of his cosset sheep:

"The writer of this genealogy, when a small boy, was made happy as the recipient of a present from his father; that acceptable gift being a cosset sheep, that like "Mary's lamb" followed, if allowed, wherever I went, in doors and out, and even up and down stairs. That sheep I loved almost as I loved my own life, and was made to feel exceedingly wretched by an injury that it received, being hooked by an ox so as to tear the skin in a manner shocking to behold. Mrs. Howland happened to call at my father's, and witnessing my grief and sorrow desired to see the sheep; and on examining the injuries, pronounced them curable, and then sewed up the wound and dressed it so nicely that it healed ere long. I never thought of that woman afterwards but with feelings of gratitude for the wound she also healed in my lacerated young heart."

Rose Hips hanging from the mantel and an old English shepherd's staff alongside.

Me hugging a sweet little lamb!

How I have always loved little lambs!


The first Tasha Tudor illustrations I saw was when I was a child  after the above photograph was taken and the illustrations were in were in "Childcraft Poems of Early Childhood". One of the poems was "Mary's Lamb" where Tasha illustrated an old fashioned schoolhouse with the children working on their slates at their desks when Mary's little lamb appears and tries to enter the schoolhouse. The last illustration shows Mary tenderly giving her lamb a hug!

Tasha Tudor's 1946 book "Linsey Woolsey" is about a cosset lamb named Linsey Woolsey who was bottle raised and preferred the company of people.



Poppy spinning by the fireplace.



We acquired the brass range from a kind gentleman in England who said his Gran played with the range when she was child.




Hope with a trug full of apples.



Poppy and Hope with a trug of apples. Poppy is rolling out a crust.



The dolls and critters at Corgyncombe enjoy old fashioned entertainment.

Punch and Judy and their lookalike baby! Also a smaller punch sits in front.

Poppy and Hope, each with their little dolls, enjoy the Punch and Judy show!


In "Take Joy!: The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book", Tasha illustrated a story "Christmas in London" from "Little Dog Toby" written by Rachel Field. Toby performed with a Punch and Judy show. We love Tasha's illustrations of little dog Toby!



Little Punch is intrigued with Hope's little Queen Anne doll!

Merry Christmas!

Some of the photographs and some of the writings on this post are from previous Corgyncombe Courant posts that can be found here on the Corgyncombe Courant and from our web site and our previous postings elsewhere on the internet.

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Photographs, images, and text copyright © 2000-2023 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson.
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copyright © 2023 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson