A Yorkshire start-up business has partnered with a local farm in a venture that aims to help raise awareness of native-breed sheep.

Sarah Turner, whose business Little Beau Sheep started with a Facebook page, and Nina Baptiste who owns Crowkeld Rare Breed Smallholding, are both rare-breed enthusiasts and are donating profits from their business ventures to RBST, using their products to spread the rare-breed message.

Sarah started her business “in the kitchen with the kids”, with a page on Facebook and expanded her sales based on request. She also attended all sorts of craft events, progressing to her own Etsy shop and website. Her product range has now expanded to lanolin-based laundry and body care products, as well as the dryer balls and felted soap. A corporate supporter of RBST, Sarah bases all of her designs on native sheep, using the Watchlist to research the breeds. She says: “I wanted to put something back and RBST was the obvious choice. Everything I sell is based on products from native sheep and I can use this to help raise awareness of the diversity and qualities of native breeds.” 

Crowkeld Rare Breeds Smallholding is now home to a flock of 70 Hebrideans, plus a herd of Landrace pigs which live outdoors on a mix of grazing and woodland. Nina sells lamb/hogget and pork boxes, registered stock and offers ram hire. As well as the meat sales, she offers spun wool and washed and carded fleece, plus, subject to availability, sheepskin rugs and polished horns. A new venture is ‘living rugs’, as she explains: “Our sheep are hand sheared, which is a lot less stressful for them, and we have a hand shearer who can take a whole fleece off in one. I can then needle felt the back, to make a rug from a living sheep, which means that I can also tell the buyer the story of the sheep whose wool we’ve used.”

Sarah and Nina first came together when Sarah came up with the idea for making needle-felted pure wool laundry balls for use in tumble dryers. Living in a place where she was surrounded by sheep, she decided to base her designs on some of the native breeds of sheep. One of the breeds she chose was Hebridean – and one of her customers was Nina who bought a set of Hebridean laundry balls as a Christmas present.

With her purchases, one thing that Nina noticed was that the sheep’s horns weren’t dark enough and responded to a request for feedback on Twitter, which led to Sarah being invited to Crowkeld to see some Hebrideans ‘in person’. She re-did Nina’s laundry balls in the correct shades which inspired the idea of a limited-edition range, using wool from named sheep in Nina’s flock, with £5 from each sale going to RBST. Having collaborated on the limited edition range, Sarah and Nina are now looking for more joint projects to continue to raise awareness and help fund the work of RBST.

www.littlebeausheep.com or Little Beau Sheep on Etsy.com

www.crowkeld.co.uk or CrowkeldFarm on Etsy.com - all sales help support the work of RBST