SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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A description of these hills, however short, would be incomplete without some reference to the sheep, great companies of which roam the sunlit expanse with their attendant guardians—man and dog (who deserve a chapter to themselves). Southdown mutton has a fame that is extra-territorial; it has been said that the flavour is due to the small land snail of which the sheep must devour millions in the course of their short lives. But the explanation is more probably to be found in the careful breeding of the local farmers of a century or so ago. Gilbert White refers to two distinct breeds—"To the west of the Adur ... all had horns, smooth white faces and white legs, but east of that river all flocks were poll sheep (hornless) ... black faces with a white tuft of wool." Since that day, however, east has been west and west east and the twain have met.
The traveller may be fortunate enough to come across a team of oxen ploughing. The phenomenon is yearly becoming more rare; but within sight and sound of the Eastbourne expresses between Plumpton and Cooksbridge this archaic survival from a remote past is more likely to be seen than elsewhere.
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