It's been so long since we posted an update so we thought we'd post a flock update!
So sorry it's been so long since we posted an update on LambWatch. It's been a strange and busy year with lots of sheep coming and going, and now we move into autumn, we are planning our breeding groups for the coming year.
We first start with some bad news. In September we sadly lost our founding Boreray tup, Jacob. He was 8 years old and we had to put him to sleep due to what we believe was a brain injury. Jacob sired some wonderful lambs, some of whom we are pleased to say are still part of the Marlfield flock, but most of whom have gone onto pastures new to create new Boreray breeding flocks. We had hoped to breed from Jacob one more year and then retire him - the boy done good! But alas he had other ideas. His progeny still in the Marlfield flock is "Rae", a sweet little Boreray ewe who was born in April this year.
Jacob's replacement is a tup lamb who we bought in September from Teesdale. His name is Frodo and is a fine little lamb who seems keen to get the job done already! He's a darker Boreray tup and we are looking forward to seeing how he develops.
In an earlier post we mentioned we bought some new Boreray at the February sale in Clitheroe. Most of these had lambs and produced an interesting variety. We did have to bottle feed one completely and as such has become very tame for a Boreray! Her name is "Bambi" - named after the cartoon character as she was very wobbly on her legs when she was born (which is why she was rejected by her mother, or rather, she didn't have the strength to feed herself). Bambi is also staying at Marlfield as we have become attached to her having raised her completely on the bottle and it's nice to have a tame Boreray in the flock!
We have decided to rest a number of Boreray ewes this year to give them a year off from lambing. We are resting all the ewes we bought in February as well as one or two of our older girls.
Registered Borerays at LambWatch include the following adult ewes: Gaynor, Flame, Jasmine, Fulvia, Fiona, Flavia, Fern, Freya, Kelly, Izzy, Benita, Dani, Dahila and the following ewe lambs: Rae and Bambi. Our single Boreray tup is Frodo. The following will be put to the tup in November: Fulvia, Fiona, Fern, Freya and Izzy so it will only be a small Boreray group this year.
Demand for North Ronaldsay sheep this year has been very high. Our lack of grass in the spring made us panic somewhat and decide to sell anything that was sought. We sold three shearling ewes who we had planned to keep in the flock this year. They have gone to a wonderful home in Scotland where they even have access to seaweed! As the grass came good in summer, we decided we, too, wanted to increase our numbers of North Ronaldsays, having at that point, only 5 ewes.
We bought 5 ewe lambs at Skipton Rare Breed market in September and then we went on to purchase 4 older ewes from a breeder near York. We will be borrowing a tup this year for our breeding North Ronaldsays and, like the Boreray, we will be resting some ewes as they deserve a rest!
Registered North Ronaldsays at LambWatch HQ now include: Thora, Topaz, Unicorn, Gizmo, Nutmeg and our new adult arrivals, Kelly, Kerry, Kali (Kaleidoscope) and Jemma and our ewe lambs include Florentine, Madeleine (we were watching "Bake off" when we named these), Oreo and the 5 ewe lambs at Skipton are: Grassleas, Lilburnsteads, Chatton, Snowypeak and Moorside. Breeding this year will be Gizmo, Nutmeg, Kelly, Kerry, Kali and Jemma.
There's been a lot of Shetland sheep movement this year! It's hard to know where to start! I am not sure if I posted about this but last year we lost our Shetland tup, Lance, during the tupping season. He had similar symptoms to Jacob this year. So this year we bought two new Shetland tup lambs from local breeders. They are both "Katmoget" in their colouration and their names are Celt and Troy. They seem a little immature at this point but they will be put to the ewes non the less! It may mean we have some late lambs next year. Who knows!
Many Shetland wether lambs (castrated males) have gone to pastures new across the UK this year as "living lawnmowers" which is great as they are perfect for that. We also sold some shearling ewes to other breeders who are looking to breed from them. Shetlands are quite versatile as they can be put to a more commercial tup to make a more "commercial" lamb and have the best of both worlds: a mother who is milky, easy lambing and hardy with a lamb who is ready for market within 12 months.
Remaining ewes at LambWatch HQ include Peggy, Patch, Mel, Meg, Winnie, Myrtle. Heather, Daisy, Lunga, Staffa, Lilly, Anna, Elma, Cindy, Thorne, Sybil, Nellie and Sugar. Going to Troy and Celt (in two breeding groups) will be Peggy, Patch, Mel, Meg, Winnie, Myrtle, Heather, Daisy, Lunga, Saffa, Lilly, Anna and Elma. The other 5 will be rested. We also have 4 ewe lambs from this year although they have not yet been registered. We need to think of names for them!
We added to our Soay flock in the February sale, bringing back 4 new Soay ewes. Of all the breeds, the Soay activity has been pretty minimal (apart from their desire to hop over stone walls that is!). We had some nice lambs from them all this year, including 5 ewe lambs and 3 tup lambs. The 3 tup lambs are now wethers and will be going with some Shetland wethers to become living lawnmowers at a lovely home near Lancaster.
Since the passing of Jacob, our Soay tup became the "alpha male". We bought him last year as a lamb and he is developing beautifully. Although he still has more growing to do, he already is a fine specimen. His name is Cardy (full name Cardamom).
Registered adult Soay ewes at LambWatch HQ are: Grisette, Goulouise, Chapeau, Cochonette, Faslane, Fetlar, Fairlie and Fairisle. Ewe lambs are Koko, Oatly, Storm, Breeze and Gale. Breeding this year will be Grisette, Goulouise, Chapeau, Cochonette and Fairlie.
Phew! That is a "quick" update! There aren't many of them in the LambWatch field at the moment as that field is being rested. We will be using the LambWatch field as a breeding field for one of the groups in November. Breeding groups will be set on 5th November (or thereabouts!) meaning lambs will be due on 1st April 2021 (or thereabouts!)
We've had a busy summer with all the usual yearly jobs including haytime, fleece production and processing. In June we filled the barn with a fine crop of wonderful smelling hay which will be invaluable over the winter months, not just for our flock but for other flocks in the local area.
In terms of fleeces, we have sold all our fleeces to lovely craftspeople who will use them for spinning, felting and other projects. Dan has been busy working on a new project called "The Fleece Shop" [link] which is an online marketplace linking fleece producers to craftspeople which has been quite helpful to many small-scale fleece producers. This year the "commercial" value of British wool has been dreadful, so projects like The Fleece Shop are helping breeders get some value for their fleece.
Take care everybody, stay safe. Lots of love from everyone at LambWatch HQ
What a wonderful blog - glad to see my namesake is still in the Shetland flock. I remember being told about her in your Christmas card but I still don't know her colouring. So pleased that the fleeces are being used for craft work. I still love the Shetland sheep the best as they seem so tame. Hope you have a successful breeding season with all the new tups so we have lots of lovely lambs to look forward to watch next Spring.
Well, first of all I love the picture of Rowan with the sheep! And thanks for the update. What I'd really like, but it would take too much of your time, is a picture gallery with their faces and their names so that I could identify them, but I know that's an impossible request. The other thing I'd like to know is whether or not Howard still has a flock, and how they are doing? Anyway, thanks for the update, and I'm so glad you have enough hay in for yourselves and some neighbours this year. Helen
Phew! You have had a busy year and your blog makes for interesting reading. Love all the names but sorry to hear about the loss of Lance and Jacob. I'm glad that you have a couple of pet lambs, no doubt Rowan will enjoy being able to get closer to them maybe. Thanks for the update and hope all the family are keeping safe and well.
Wow Dan,i was well behind, i dont know how you remembered everything you have brought us up to date on,I must say you,ve been very busy ,well done .You will need to buy another farm ,at this rate.,and i see your little boy is getting in to farming .Again well done, love Milly.