Friday, 30 November 2012

The last 3 years it's been snow and ice and this year true to form it has been floods. Every year no matter when we plan the annual round up of the Soays from Powhill the weather conspires to make the task more difficult and stressful than it might usually be.

The heavy rains across the region the day before the roundup made persuading the Soay sheep to cross the stream to part way along the site and up to the small enclosure a bit of a challenge, not too mention getting there along flooded roads in the first place! The annual roundup and move to the winter grazing site is always an event which has the potential to take much longer than anticipated as the Soays are not renowned for their co-operation! However with help from Dave and Sarah and despite a couple of minor hiccups they were all successfully gathered in are now happily grazing away on their winter site.

Now all we have to do is catch them up in the spring to take them back there next year!!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Well this years lambs are arriving steadily and winter grazing has started on 2 sites in Durham which require shearlings to graze hem as they are quite 'hard' sites and the younger sheep wouldn't thrive there. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks the rest of the lambs should be in situ and we can get the winter programme fully under way.

Don't forget there are plenty of shearlings available for the box scheme. Should anyone fancy trying one they will be available until the end of November and then there will be a break until the end of March.

Contact us at

Thursday, 11 October 2012

After battling with the wet weather all summer we have eventually been able to move some cattle onto Druridge pools. There are less of them than we would have liked but this season has been thrown all over the place by the quantity of rain there has been. Hopefully next year will be better.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Sitting here keeping out of the rain working out the logistics of all the stock movements that need to be done over the next few weeks. It is always tricky at this time of year with the new intake of sheep arriving from the hill farms. We are looking to buy nearly 200 this year to bring the numbers back up to around 300.
With groups of last years animals to move onto the sites with poor quality grazing we have to do some careful planning to ensure that no movement standstills are accidentally broken. It all usually goes smoothly unless there are unplanned for delays, for example there is one bunch that cannot be moved at present as the access routes are underwater. Only an inconvenience but does mean that jobs can keep being pushed back.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Jess and I took some sheep down to the woolly event at Tyne Riverside Country Park a couple of Sundays ago on one of the few sunny days this summer.
The 2 sheep are different breeds, one being a Shetland and the other a Manx Loaghtan.
They drew a lot of attention as did Jess who divided her time between being petted by the numerous visit and keeping an eye on any other dogs passing by.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Some shetland sheep which have been grazing on Prestwick Carr. They take a bit of finding in the 60 acres of woodland but we eventually tracked them down and got them out to the fence. Note Jess in the background making sure they didn't disappear again!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The autumn grazing programme is starting to get underway with a few Highland cattle and some Exmoor ponies out on site already.
We set up an electric fence in the corner of a field the other day in order to train the sheep which will making the pilgrimage to graze on Holy island late this autumn. It is important that they learn to respect an electric fence before they go otherwise they could get out and wander wherever they like including back across the causeway. May be we should teach them to read tide tables as well!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Will this rain never relent? All the grazing sites even the normally dry ones have water laying on the surface after the weekend. Maybe we will have a nice dry September and October to make up for it all!
Over the past week we have had a pony and a sheep succumb; both with natural causes. The pony is from one particular herd on Exmoor which does seem to have a congenital heart defect in some of the offspring. Still very sad but at least they had a natural existence conservation grazing while they are with us.

The photo below is of some Soay sheep sheltering in the shade on one of the few hot days we have had.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Some Exmoor ponies happily munching away on Longhorsley moor between the rain showers. They are doing quite a good job at keep the undergrowth back but it could really do with 2-3 highland cattle there as well to browse and rub on the young birch saplings and keep them in check.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Well that's another season of shearling sales nearly over, the last ones will be sold next week and then there will be a break until the end of September when there will be some available again until the end of November. It has been a much easier run this year with the grass growing early in March and no heavy snowfall over winter. This meant that the shearlings were available earlier in the spring than they are some years giving a longer availability.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

One of the Highland cattle at Arcot browsing on the scrub. At a light stocking rate the cattle help to maintain open areas and a patchwork of grass lengths across the meadows making it more attractive to wildlife. The dung they produce is a great feed source for insects which in turn provide an important part of the diet for young chicks as they hatch.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Another cold May day! At least it's not raining today.........yet.

Just off out to sort out some lambs for the market tomorrow. Now that all the hay meadows are grazed off and closed up to grow we have a small surplus of sheep so time to sell some. Once the hay is all made and the fields have some new growth on them we will buy some more back in to graze them down over next winter and so the cycle continues.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

We reached a small milestone recently when we sold our 100th lamb through the box scheme.

Most of the Swaledale have now been sold this season and the rare breeds are just starting. There are currently Hebrideans, Shetlands and Manx Loaghtans available.

In true community supported agriculture style we have also launched an option to pay a small monthly amount by standing order, receiving your half lamb once the amount paid reaches the value of the lamb.
If anyone is interested please contact us through the Flexigraze email

Steve Emsley taking delivery of the 100th lamb

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The sheep below have been busy grazing on the aqueduct at Whittledene to keep the grass down and removing competition before the wildflowers start to grow.

They have done a pretty good job as you can see below.

 With the spring arriving early this year it is now nearly time for them to move on to their summer grazing pastures and let all the species emerge and flower before they return in the autumn to repeat the process.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Some of the Highland cattle grazing the meadow at Hedley hall for the Woodland Trust. They have done quite a good job so far and will be there for another 3-4 weeks before they come off to let the meadow grow on and flower later in the summer.

It's all very well having quiet and docile animals but it is difficut to take a picture with a horn pushing into your armpits.........

Friday, 9 March 2012

The mild weather and earlier start to spring has allowed sheep sales to start sooner this year. 15 have gone away this week and there are plenty left so if anyone is interested please get in touch. We have held the price at £65 per half lamb. In my opinion between now and June is when they are at their very best.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

It's been a busy week this week with putting sheep out onto the wildflower meadows to give the grass one more graze off before the spring growth gets underway properly. By ensuring the grass is grazed down short at the start of the growing season it allows the less competitive plant species to grow and flower more effectively through the summer. The sheep will stay there for 2-3 weeks before moving onto other pastures for the summer.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

What does Jess get up to when she's not hard at work gathering the Flexigraze sheep...................
She has her own personal box next to the fire where she can chill out and keep a watchful eye on proceedings!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The cattle are slowly munching their way through the winter grazing. These two hungry fellows are at Weetslade country park.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Some of our rare breed sheep starting work grazing a Site of Special Scientific Interest on the Magnesian Limestone escarpment in Durham. In this group there are 3 different breeds Hebridean, Manx Loaghtan and Shetland.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The relatively mild weather so far this winter means that there has been more grazing than usual on most sites with the stock taking a little longer to clear it. After a hectic morning yesterday most of the stock is in place for the second half of the winter grazing programme. There will be another rush at the end of february / beginning of March when all the hay meadows get a final graze off before the broadleaved plants emerge in the spring.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year to everyone.

All the animals have come through the Xmas break well and despite a very blustery day today are ready to get on with the second half of the winter grazing programme. With the run up to Xmas being so mild there is still a lot of grazing out there and the animals are taking longer than usual to chomp through it, though i have to say it is a much better situation than having to deal with all the snow last year...........lets hope it stays away for a bit longer yet!