Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Basil gets busy! (after 9pm viewing only...!)

It felt a little bit like dropping Basil outside the school gates for the first time, would he make any friends?  Would he know what to do?  We needn't have worried.  After a quick graze, he looked up and saw about 250 ewes all racing towards him and knew exactly what to do!  It was so funny to watch.  The ewes literally surround the rams and almost line up one after the other.  The raddles (see earlier blog) mark the ewes and there are already a few green backsides.

We will keep you posted but its looking promising for some very sweet lambs to be born come the spring!

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Busy times ahead for the boys...

For 364 days of the year the rams do not like us going near them.  Well, other than Basil who does like his ears scratched every now and then....  But the day when Roly appears in their field holding the raddles they almost roll over and couldn't be more obliging.  Raddles are a very important piece of equipment.  They are like a harness which go around their shoulders and have a crayon fixed to them which lodges on their chest.  You can see in the photos a green block, although Basil's is harder to see because of his woolly coat!  This crayon marks the ewes as they are being served by the rams.  A ewe's cycle is 17 days long.  At the end of the 17 days we then change the colour of the crayon on the raddle.  This is then an excellent guide for us to dictate when the ewes will have their lambs.  The majority of the flock will be served in the first 17 day cycle which is when we time our popular lambing weekends for which we run with our landlords the Earth Trust and invite people to come and spend time in the lambing barns in the evenings, please see our website for more details http://www.camillaandroly.co.uk/be-a-shepherd  Being a 'shepherd for the day' with us happens all year round but we do tend to get busy during lambing.

We put the raddles on the rams a few days ahead of them going in with the ewes to make sure they are fitting comfortably.  They are due to go in on Saturday afternoon and it is always funny to see them getting busy straightaway!

We were at Headington farmers market for the first time last Friday and it was really lovely meeting some new customers there.  Thank you for making us feel so welcome.  We really enjoyed it and will be there again next Friday 26th October.  This week is a busy market week for us too, Wallingford yesterday, Oxford tomorrow and Abingdon on Friday.  Our neighbours Mark and Jane Cooper (Coopers Oxford Pork www.coopersoxfordpork.co.uk) will also be selling our lamb at Sandford on Thames community market www.talkingshopsandford.wordpress.com on Saturday and finally, the South Oxford market on Sunday morning is a new weekly market, and we shall be there!  www.southoxfordfarmersmarket.org.uk

We look forward to seeing you.

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Our favourite stew

The moment the evenings start drawing in, we start thinking of using our favourite cuts of lamb to make delicious stews.  Now October is here its time to share some recipes.

We have rebranded what is known as 'scrag end' as 'stewing chops' and they are so tasty.  They are neck of lamb on the bone, we also sell neck fillet (off the bone) which is very popular too.  But we think the bone keeps a lot of the flavour.  Stewing chops are one of the cheaper cuts but we think the most flavoursome.  I'm about to start cooking the recipe below and leave it in the oven all afternoon ready for this evening, I can hardly wait!

Serves 4

You will need -
8 of Camilla and Roly's stewing chops
1 large onion
1 large garlic clove
1 pack of bacon lardons
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1/2 pint of chicken stock
1/2 pint of good red wine
A handful of red lentils (optional)
A handful of pearl barley (optional)
Couple of sprigs of thyme

Brown off the stewing chops in a large pan in a small amount of oil. Remove them from the pan and add the lardons and cook them for a few minutes before removing them and putting them aside with 'the chops. Add the onion and crushed garlic to the delicious lamb and bacon juices and saute for a few minutes. Add the flour and stir around until mixed in with the onion and garlic. Add the stock and wine and the lentils and pearl barley if you want to use them (they are a good thickener and definitely add some yumminess). Return your chops and bacon back into the pan, season well and add the thyme sprigs. Cook over a high heat for a few minutes before putting your delicioius stew in the oven at 150 degrees for at least 3 hours! The lamb will be so tender it will fall off the bone and its a real winner! Serve with slow cooked red cabbage and dauphinoise potatoes, yummy!

We hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Boris and Belle