Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Getting ready for the boys....
There are so many important jobs to do during the sheep year but one of the most enjoyable for us is when we gather the ewes into the handling pen to sort through them ahead of them meeting with the rams in a few weeks time. It sort of feels like a spring clean as at the end of it they are all sorted into their various groups. There are a number of things we are looking out for - their condition, are they too thin or too fat (occasionally happens...), if they are thin we would check their teeth, some old ewes their teeth have worn completely down so they are unable to graze, and finally their udders. If a ewe suffers from mastitis (an infection in their udder, very uncomfortable and sore and their lamb cannot suckle), we cannot keep her. It means that the udder is permanently damaged and she would not be able to rear two lambs.
The other important job is selecting the ewes whose offspring we will keep if they are a girl. We operate what is known as a 'closed flock'. This means we never buy in any replacement ewes which keeps our disease risk very low and the flocks health very high. The only sheep we buy are rams and we keep them in isolation for a couple of weeks to make sure no signs of infection appear. My selection criteria is perhaps not the most professional as I tend to go on looks, but I'm sure it will pay off! Whereas Roly would be looking at their size and conformation and in some cases their age.
Farmers markets are going well and we will be attending Headington market in Oxford for the first time on Friday 12th October. We visited Sandford on Thames market on Saturday where Jane Cooper from Coopers Oxford Pork was selling our lamb and on Sunday the South Oxford market held its first market which we are really happy to support. More and more people are interested in buying and eating locally and our delicious lamb ticks all those boxes!
Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle