Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No Pictures?? Early Cudos for the Tunis Breed!

Since I cant upload pictures, what I was going to post today will wait till tomorrow.

I will instead post one of the articles I found on the 'Net about tunis sheep. I am going to paste it word for word, as I really like the way people of the time constructed their phrases, and I believe that if I tried to paraphrase it, some of the meaning would be lost.
This was originally an oral speach given by Jas. A. Guilhams, to the Indiana State Board of Agriculture and the Wool Drovers Association. The year was 1897...

"Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Wool drovers' Association of Indiana: The subject on the program allotted to me is "The Tunis Sheep." I will try to give you a short history of this breed of sheep; also my personal experience in breeding and mining them. The Tunis sheep is a native of Tunis, a mountainous country in northern Africa. Tunis was formerly Carthage, and at one time the most powerful nation in the world.
"The native sheep of this country are a specie of the broad or fat tail breed of sheep. They have been bred pure for several thousand years throughout the countries of northern Africa, which includes Egypt, Tripoli, Tunis, Algeria and Morocco. Another specie of the broad-tail sheep are raised very extensively in Turkey and Persia, principally for mutton and the fat of the tail, which is manufactured into a kind of butter that is greatly relished by the people of those countries.
"It is said that the tail of the Turkish sheep weighs from 60 to 100 pounds. Sheep have been imported from Turkey to America several times and have always proved a failure. Mr. Bailey, of California, has a flock of broad-tail sheep which were imported from Astrakhan. In color they are black and black and white spotted. The wool on the specimens that I saw was a coarse quality. I am informed that these sheep have multiplied and done remarkably well in California.
As far back as we can trace ancient history we read of the fat-tail sheep. In Leviticus, third chapter, ninth verse, it reads: "And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering the fat thereof and the whole rump. It shall he take off hard by the backbone." About 2,300 years ago Herodotus describes it as the sheep of Syria and Palestine, and having a tail one cubit in width, which is eighteen inches. From time immemorial this has been the common species of sheep existing throughout Asia and Africa.

"Some very foolish stories have been written about the broad-tail sheep. Some writers have described them as having tails three feet long, with a wagon attached to the sheep for the tail to rest upon. One writer a few years ago in describing the sheep, said that in case tbe wagon was not placed under the tail in time, that the lobes of fat on each side of the tail bone would become so heavy of their own weight that they would sometimes drop off. This is simply nonsense."
FIRST INTRODUCTION OF TUNIS SHEEP IN AMERICA
"In 1799, when Gen. Wm. Eaton was United States Consul at Tunis, he purchased from the Bey of Tunis, and on his farm, ten head of Tunis sheep, which he placed on board the man-of-war Sophia, bound for the United Stales. One ram and one ewe only survived the voyage. This pair was placed under the care of Judge Richard Peters, of Belmont, near Philadelphia, who kept and bred them until he had a fine flock of pure blood Tunis sheep.
"Judge Peters offered the free use of his rams to his friends; his pastures were overrun with ewes, brought from far and near. Soon a number of wealthy victnalers of Philadelphia, discovering the superiority of the Tunis sheep for mutton over all other breeds, both in quality and price, made up a purse and offered Judge Peters any price he chose to fix on his imported ram, but he refused to sell. These sheep were hardy, bearing heat or cold and fattening with less food and much quicker than any other sheep. An unsound sheep of the Tunis breed was unknown. The great demand for the lambs for mutton was detrimental to the multiplication of the breed. In 1810 the Merino craze struck this country, with fine Merino wool selling at $2 per pound. Mutton was lost sight of. The imported pair, Caramelli and Selina, were both killed by dogs when very old, the ewe raising her last lamb at the age of sixteen years. During the twenty years or more in which Judge Peters bred the Tunis sheep, several fine flocks were sent to North and South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, where they were successfully bred in large flock until the beginning of the war in 1861, during which they were nearly all destroyed.
"About two years ago, through the kind assistance of Col. Washington Watts, of South Carolina, who owned a fine flock of Tunis sheep before the war, I succeeded in locating a small flock of the pure bloods in the South. The owner satisfied me that he could trace the history of his flock direct to the flock owned by Judge Peters. In my venture with Tunis sheep I found a willing partner in Mr. M. A. Bridges, a wealthy land-owner and fine stock breeder of Putnam County, Indiana. We made our first shipment the first week in March. With the sudden change of climate and feed, etc., we expected some of our sheep to die, but we were very agreeably disappointed, for they stood the March and April blizzards like a stone wall.
I have bred and raised successfully the Cotswold, the Merino, the Shropshires and Cheviots, l am an admirer of all these breeds. I have at present a small flock of Cheviots, of which I am very proud, for I believe they are destined to become one of the leading breeds in America.

"In order to test the hardiness of our Tunis sheep we have let them run with the above named breeds, giving them all the same treatment, the same care and feed. We are compelled to say that we are highly pleased with the result. First, they have cleaner noses than any other breed of sheep; second, they need less tagging and third, they seem less affected by heat or cold.
In color when very young they are sometimes a pure fawn, and frequently red with a white face. When only a few days old their tails are the same as any other lambs, with a surplus of loose skin at the upper part. They can be docked as close as other lambs. As they begin to grow in size a kind of fat flesh begins to accumulate on each side at the tail bone for about half way down the length. Three or four inches of the lower end of the tail should be cut off. This leaves the tail fan-shaped or tapering. In mature sheep in good flesh the tail is from five to ten inches wide and six or eight inches long, and would weigh from three to eight pounds; and this is said to be the choicest piece of mutton that mortal man ever tested. I have not tried it. The tail of the males is larger than that of the ewes. The wool on mature sheep is a light gray in color, and will shear about eight pounds of fine medium wool.

"In form they are straight, round bodied, with good length; short legs and fine bone, with a very small, tapering neck, and a deer-shaped head and nose. They are quick, active and strong, and have a bright, intelligent look. They will raise two crops of lambs a year or they will bring lambs in any month desired. We have one lamb born August 15, and one August 25, both being the second crop for 1894. We have a very fine ewe lamb, born November 1. It is as fat as a pug dog and can run like a jack rabbit Its tail is four inches broad. Full grown sheep when running make a noise with their tails like slapping your hands. And a flock of lambs in their gambols and play seem to take delight in seeing which can make his tail crack the loudest.
Of all stock bred and raised in America by the farmers, the sheep is the most abused and neglected. What the average American farmer wants, is not a sheep that with good housing and good care and plenty of feed can be made to weigh 350 pounds, but they want a sheep that with no care and very little feed can be made weigh 150 or 200 pounds. We believe the Tunis sheep will come as near doing this as any sheep in the world. I do not propose in this article to claim that the Tunis sheep is the grandest sheep on earth. Because we have none to sell, and my experience has been limited. But our experience so far has proven to us that they are a grand, good sheep, with many good qualities. I hope by another year to be able to give you more light on this subject. And if our State Board of Agriculture will give us a class at the next State Fair, we will show you a sample of Tunis sheep with both the wool and tail on."

1 comment:

robert said...

The gentleman who brought the Tunis sheep to the attention of the Indiana group in your post is a relative of mine. Your post has his name incorrect. His name was James Albert Guilliams, and he first saw the sheep when he was with his Indiana regiment in the southeast US in 1865-1866.

"Uncle Albert" (actually a great uncle in my father's generation) is buried in Thomas Cemetery west of Newport, Indiana.

I found a newspaper clipping from the 1890's about the sheep and the history in my grandfather's old geography school book.

James Albert Guilliams sold and delivered coal and ice in Newport in his later years.