Sunday, 24 January 2010

Plans for 2010

Looking at the list of projects we had planned for 2009 it struck me how much we have changed course without realising it,
We planned to continue to raise Mutton, increase the flock size and train our own sheep dog.
Well we have increased the flock but have also decided to switch breeds fro the lowland Lleyns to the Hill Radnor Sheep which are a local breed and very rare (about 900 registered ewes). I did buy a sheep dog and her training is ongoing as we speak, she will be 12 months old on the 2 Feb 2010.
I anticipate that we will continue to buy in more Hill Radnor Sheep and gradually reduce the Lleyns.
We sold some of our meat to a local butcher as opposed to selling direct on the markets, this worked reasonably well. Less money but also a lot less preparation time and costs.

The straw bale barn planned for last year has not been completed but planning permission has been obtained and we are still hoping to complete this year.

Training courses were a big part of our plan last year, but we have found them complicated to set up and are still deciding what to do in 2010.

Increasing the bee colonies to more than 100 was in our plan but we had another poor year (3rd in a row) so have stabalised at around 80, am undecided what expansion to go for this year but we are hoping to buy in some different stock of bees with hopefully more ability to cope with our conditions.

One more possible venture for this year is starting a small care farm helping people with rehabilitation and training.

Last day at Moseley Farmers Market

It was a sad day for me last Saturday, after 10 years we have stopped attending the farmers market held in Moseley, Birmingham. We've never missed a market through rain, sun, illness, and vehicle breakdown we took our stall once a month every month for over ten years. Photo from Oct 08

Takings have been falling recently and with the additional competition on the market it has become less viable for us and looking at the trends of our takings this fall in income looks likes set to continue.
We will miss the traders, customers and organisers, all have been generous and friendly. We wish them all the best and hope that the market will be successful in the future.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Long View of the holding

I was told recently that there were no photos of the whole holding, well it is difficult to get all on one picture. So I use two this one looking north east towards the veg area. and this one looking west showing the tunnels, chickens and frame yard under development.
I will take pictures later in the year to show developments and hopefully better quality pictures

Millie at 10 months

A couple of photos of our young sheepdog Millie, she is 10 months old now, her training is progressing with commands and a half decent stop. That is until we work on the small flock of welsh mountain sheep we have in Hereford, then she becomes a whirling dervish cutting the flock in half and generally acting like a young hooligan. This will change as she gets older (I hope)

New project: Hill Radnor Sheep

We are starting a new project, rare breed sheep namely Hill Radnors. They are a local breed with only 900 pure breeding ewes left, they are classed as vulnerable by the Rare Breed Survival Trust, only three breeds are more at risk. Hill Radnors have been use for cross breeding with other local breeds such as Shropshire and Clun Forest,they became rare as breeding practices changed.
We are hoping to use them for hogget and mutton production, they are a slow growing breed so produce good quality meat, but are not as suitable for lamb production compared to the modern fast growing breeds. So far we have bought three ewes, we were couldn't to get more last year because of the restrictions on replacement ewes for organic flocks. We'll be building the flock this year and buying a new Ram at the society sales in autumn.

Hill Radnors are as the name suggests a hill breed but are larger than most and have a distinctive brown face and legs with a grey muzzle which enlarges as they get older. They also have the best fleece of all the hill breeds. So far they seem more timid than out present Lleyns but that may change as they get used to us.
More on this project in the coming year.