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Zwartables Ireland is a sheep farm in County Kilkenny run by Suzanna Crampton. Suzanna cares for her flock of Zwartbles sheep on the family farm’s small green fields in the River Nore Valley of County Kilkenny. This modest acreage has been in her mother’s family for 7 generations.
In 2008 the National Ploughing Championships, Ireland’s biggest agricultural event, was held in Kilkenny. Here Suzanna inspected sheep breeds to see what she might like to choose for her farm and discovered Zwartbles sheep. Immediately hooked by these elegant ovines, she bought her first four ewes that autumn.
Zwartbles are elegant tall black sheep that have unique white blazes from poll to muzzle, two to four short white socks and white-tipped tails. Like short horn cows Zwartbles provide meat and milk but also have very fine thick brown-black fleece with lots of crimp. Their temperament is very friendly and they are easy to handle.
Zwartbles wool is a beautiful rich chocolate black-brown. Not far from Suzanna’s farm in Graiguenamanagh Village in the Barrow Valley there is a wonderful family-run Cushendale woollen mill. They clean, card and spin her fleeces into yarn for knitting and weave blankets of her design that reflect Zwartbles distinctive white markings. Four white stripes on their blankets represent the four white markings that all Zwartbles must have to represent this breed correctly. A single narrow stripe on the blanket represents the white marking at the tip of the long tail. The second stripe on the blanket is the broad stripe or blaze that Zwartbles have from the top of their head between their ears down to their nose. Finally the two narrow stripes on the blankets together are the two white stockings from the Zwartbles hind legs. She now sells and ships Zwartbles yarn and three kinds of Zwartbles wool blankets around the world.
By appointment only; you can visit the farm by the banks of the river Nore, meeting the Zwartbles sheep and Alpaca that guard the flock, that provide the wool and fleece which is spun into yarn. They also have a small farm shop selling Zwartbles and Alpaca yarn and Zwartbles blankets.