Clergyman’s wife adds to Dobcross flock

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 31 May 2019

In all, 14 new lambs, including twins and triplets, have been born to eight ewes at Gemma Moffat-Jackman’s smallholding at the vicarage near Holy Trinity Church, Dobcross, in recent weeks.

And the new arrivals have been welcomed by villagers who see them join up to 60 chickens, ducks and three geese — Elvis, Priscilla and Little Richard — living on Woods Lane.

Gemma, 34, her husband Aaron, 36, and their two children, Hope, nine, Abraham, eight, moved into the vicarage nearly two years ago after he was appointed assistant curate for The Saddleworth Team.

She said: “While I may think what we do here isn't so special, the people of the village and ramblers passing though feel very differently, 

“I continually get messages of encouragement and thanks from locals who tell me the animals bring so much joy and colour to their lives. 

“To me, I am just taking part in what is a long-standing integral part of English tradition, Pastoral Care... of sheep! 

“Not humans, my husband is more qualified with the pastoral care of humans, I prefer a woolly flock!”

And she praised local farmers saying: “There are wonderfully kind, honest, hardworking farmers in the area, aged from 16 to their mid 80's, who do fifty or more times the work than I do.

“I believe they are the traditional backbone of places like Saddleworth — these folk are truly remarkable.”

She went on: “One of my passions, and also an upside to keeping livestock right in the middle of a village, is that it's visible. 

“It's very important now more than ever for farming to be visible, because we are living in times where children do not know where their food comes from. We are more engrossed in technology and increasingly clinical. 

“It is important people, especially children, learn some respect for local agriculture, because without farmers where would we be?

“I guess ultimately, if having animals here in Church Fields, brings knowledge, joy and care for our farming culture I will feel something has been achieved. 

“Over coming months children from various local institutions will be visiting to learn about the animals. I feel privileged to do this because I only run a little operation here and I have time to accommodate different groups visiting. 

“I hope Holy Trinity Church's little farm will continue be a source of happiness for the village and foster awareness about farming in general.”

Said Rev Jackman: “As a shepherd of the Dobcross flock (in a biblical sense), it's been amazing to stand back and watch how our little farm has brought the community together.

“I see people of all ages and walks of life passing by and stopping to enjoy the animals in and around our vicarage.  

“Children on their way to school, adults walking their dogs, the elderly taking their daily constitutional - all sharing in the beauty of God's creation.

“As Gemma says, we're not doing anything particularly special - there are farming families who have been living and working in Saddleworth for generations, people who have been keeping the traditions of caring for this fragile and beautiful planet alive long before we arrived on the scene.  

“It is a privilege to be able to play a small part in that story and to be able to offer something of ourselves to the community that we live in.”

Local sheep farmer Darren Hough, who was praised by Gemma for his expert advice, declared: “Gemma is doing a good job. The family are becoming part of the community’s fabric.”


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