We thought it was about time we did a little update seeing as though our last one was in November 2021!
Well, since our last update was in November 2021, we thought it was about time we provided a bit of a brief update about what's been going on here at LambWatch HQ over the past few months / years!
Firstly, an apology! Sorry it has been so long since I posted an update. It's just been so busy now I am pretty much running the farm full time as a primary source of income and there has been a lot going on.
On the sheep front, we currently stand at 45 adults with approximately 30 lambs born in 2023 lambing season. It was mostly a run-of-the-mill lambing season; a few problems to start with but on the whole it was successful and we have a lovely bunch of new lambs now running riot around the place. All lambs were born outside as usual in the fresh air of the LambWatch field. The LambWatch field is now being rested for a few weeks to let it recover as part of our rotational grazing practices which should help us keep on top of any parasites (or at leas that is the hope!)
In the meantime, please do keep tuned as there is still lots to see and hear on the webcam, not least the dawn chorus which starts at approximately 5am every day, usually with the blackbird making the opening song.
Sheep breeds; we have Shetlands, North Ronaldsay and Boreray. They are all native breeds to the British Isles and are small, thrifty and hardy animals which makes them fairly straight forward to keep. We've helped setup new flocks in all corners of the UK, having taken some all the way up to Aberdeen last year as well as far south as Leicestershire and Devon. We've met some great folk along the way and it's one of the joys of working with these kinds of sheep.
In the wider farm, we've been one of the early agreement holders of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) pilot which incentivises farmers like us for carrying our farming in an environmentally friendly way, something which we are very passionate about. In summary, we put no artificial fertiliser on our meadows, encourage biodiversity in our species rich grasslands and encourage growth in hedgerows as well as manage our woodland to increase its biodiversity and habitat offering. We are looking at other ways in which we can improve the environmental aspects of our farm whilst not neglecting our responsibility to secure a our food supply. All of our meat products are sold directly to customers in the local area and our sheep wool products travel far and wide. Some of our yarn has travelled as far as the USA and we continue to sell our fleece to spinners and craftspeople mainly in the UK but also abroad as well.
We are continuing to work with organisations, both government and in the private sector to help promote sustainable British farming and to increase public awareness about the benefits of shopping local, seasonal, and sustainably!
And finally, we have at last got around to fixing the night vision on our camera after months of it not working. I decided to bite the bullet and get a new camera with 30 metres night vision, that's three times as much as the old camera, so fingers crossed you will be able to see some night-critters as they scurry through the grass. If not, keep your eyes peeled on the stars and planets as the pass over the night sky and enjoy the dawn chorus!
Oh I forgot to mention that as we generally lamb later than most, our lambing season very often runs over into our shearing season. This year is no different and my back never thanks me for it. Fortunately there are only "fotty-odd" sheep to do this year rather than seventy-odd last year. Many of them shed their fleece naturally throughout the spring and summer but we do try and collect as much as possible as it is a valuable product which can be sold to specialist craftspeople such as spinners, felters, rug-makers and anyone who enjoys working with wool from these special sheep. At the time of writing this, I have only 14 more to do. Phew!
Thank you for the wonderful update, Dan! I never doubted you were very busy! And I get to watch the night sky as well as the daytime, so I often see the moon, although I cannot pick out any stars, but I am glad to see the larger area of vision with the night camera. This is a beautiful photo you have posted, all the ladies together. May things continue to go well for you all, and with the family, too. thank for keeping me connected when I cannot make it all work. Helen
First of all let me wish your mother and father a long and very happy retirement. I am pleased that all your work with the rare breed sheep is such a success and this year they have produced so many strong lambs to add to your flock. The new Lambwatch camera seems to be a great investment as we can see and hear much more of the countryside. Glad that you have found good outlets for the wool from the rare breeds and that all the eco friendly schemes on the farm are doing well. Wishing you continued success with everything that you do on Marlfield Farm.