We have not had a world best lambing time. More barren ewes than I would like for one thing, but on the positive side we have had some cracking lambs. The time has come though to control more of the lambing cycle. For starters we need to buy our own tup.
Last time around we borrowed a rare Whiteface Woodland tup and he did a great job. He was not available this year, having been sold off to a farm in Cumbria. We did try for a similar lad, but unfortunately we could not arrange it. Plan B was to use a neighbours Texel ram. The ease of lambing was a very pleasant surprise. I only had to help on one occasion, and that was post birth, helping the lamb connect for a drink.
I think we have hit upon a system!
Chatting with Ruth Dalton of the Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) she asked that I note the growth of the lambs. So, I weighed each lamb three days after birth, at the same time as clipping on their identity tags and docking their tails. I will weigh them another two times and note their weight gain. Ruth suggested the weighing project as a potential means to remove the Whitefaced Woodalnd from the RBST watchlist. If the ewes demonstrate their capability as milky mothers other farmers may include them in their flock. Let’s see how we go…
Clearly an essential element of this system is a Texel tup. That means looking out for the right animal at the sales prior to the lambing cycle beginning again later this year.
On a slightly different note, I will visit the Malton Food Festival over the bank holiday weekend. My main aim is to look at any concepts farmers are using to attempt to reach audiences with their products. That usually means burger vans or similar. But beyond that I want to look at packaging. I am unsure about our own stall at the present, the north just doesn’t have the markets to make the expense e.g. travelling etc worthwhile. But I do want to try a direct sale/mail order approach. At the same time there is bound to be a tasty sausage, or two, to be had.
I plan to kill three pigs for direct sale this month. They will be available on a first come first served basis so please do get in touch if you enjoy pork. I have already sold one quarter to a dairy farmer in Scotland. That should prove an excellent test, both in terms of feedback regarding our meat but also the wool packaging I intend to use.
Originally written for and published in the Esk Valley News, June 2014 issue.