Ann and Joan are customers of mine. They are almost certainly never destined to meet since their lives are so vastly different. Ann lives in Scotland while Joan is in mid-America so their backgrounds are poles apart. Not surprisingly so are their personalities. But in other respects, they are very similar. The most striking likeness is their strong maternal instinct which translates into intense love and care for their grandchildren.

Joan called me about a year ago and presented me with her problem. Her newly born granddaughter was the victim of the Zika virus and the baby was unable to sleep. As if the devastating news was not enough, Joan’s daughter and her partner were having to deal with the additional stress of sleepless nights with a restless distressed baby. Consequently the whole household was exhausted and not faring very well. Joan wondered if one my Southdown sheepskins clipped short especially for babies might help. I couldn’t advise either way, having had no direct experience but we agreed it was worth a try and so I shipped a fleece to America. Three weeks later Joan rang me to say that to the intense relief of the entire family, for the first time in her life, the baby was sleeping – a result achieved only when the baby was settled on the sheepskin. Joan ordered a second fleece from me.

Joan, I will admit, was not foremost in my mind when I met Ann last week. She and her extended kin came to stay at Primrose Farm to attend a family wedding and make a holiday of the occasion. Well, we got talking and Ann was interested not only in our wool bedding which her family were enjoying in the cottages but, hey presto, she asked if we do sheepskins. Perhaps she suggested, her very autistic grandson might feel comfortable on a Southdown fleece? She chose one from the stock room and went back to her cottage for tea. I went on to do afternoon animal rounds but by the time I got back to the farm house there was an email from Ann waiting in my inbox. It had an attachment – a picture of a very relaxed child cuddling up to his woolly fleece with a look of pure serenity on his face. There was also a request for another fleece and the repeat order made me think of Joan.

What is it about wool and sheepskin fleeces that can calm even the most restless of souls? Nobody will deny the exquisite softness you experience when you touch these fleeces but I believe I have been underestimating the therapeutic benefits of the fibre. Joan and Ann had the absolutely correct instincts and certainly put me right on this. All I can say is: clever sheep.

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