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!

More soon
Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Indian summer, how lovely!

The chat at the farmers markets we attend is more often than not weather related. This weeks chat will be our summer has been a long time coming! Particularly for the farmers around us who are still harvesting and elsewhere in the country. Now the challenge is the dew in the mornings which delays the combines getting started until later. Our neighbours the Darts, will be baling our few straw bales for us this week which will be our winter bedding. On a normal year we would have had the bales in the barn a few weeks ago but everything is late due to the rain we have had.

After moving the rams through the village (see photo), the rams had their MOT yesterday which included a pedicure and general check over ahead of the important work they've got ahead. We have started feeding them so they are even more tame, particularly Basil who now stands to have his ears and nose scratched! Molly thinks he is wonderful, well we all do actually.

The ewes are now off the Wittenham Clumps and back at Shillingford where they will now stay until we bring them over ahead of lambing. We miss them, it is so lovely seeing them up there as we drive around. The goldfinches are really busy feeding in big groups which I have just learnt is called a 'charm' of goldfinches. I have never seen them in such a number so checking the ewes has been such a treat.

We will be selling our Indian summer lamb packs up until the end of September so place your orders if you would like this special selection - 1 whole butterflied leg, 1/2 boned and rolled shoulder, 1 French trimmed rack of lamb, 4 loin chops, 5 burgers - £50. Drop us an email at

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle