Monday, 21 October 2013

Autumn seems to be approaching fast now with heavy rain showers and cooler nights. The autumn sheep movements are well under way with sales of shearling lamb going reasonably well. There is usually a rush of orders in November before we have to stop for Christmas. The butcher we use is too busy during December to process any for us and by the time the new year arrives the grass has disappeared and we have to wait for the spring growth in April / May before sales can resumed. That's seasonality for you!

The first of our annual purchases of this years lambs are arriving down from the hills and will graze some of the easier land over this winter.

Below Red Galloway cows and calves grazing along side Exmoor ponies on summer marsh grazing.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Early July sees the end of the seasons shearling sales, with many people taking their holidays it seems a good time to take a break before we resume again through September, October and November before breaking again for the winter. The past few months have been disrupted quite a lot by the abattoir refitting and putting in new lines hopefully all the teething troubles will have been resolved before we start again.

The good weather has meant there has been some good hay made on the flower meadows. At Hollywell Geoff left some strips uncut for the butterflies. On the day he was cutting the hay the grass was full of hem and it doesn't seem right to take away all their habitat. The sheep will graze down what has been left over the winter and next year the strips will be left in a different part of the field.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Late June saw us run a small trial on a block of Carr woodland which is becoming dominated by birch. 88 swale wethers were put out onto the woodland as the birch started to come into  leaf and left there for a couple of weeks. We then took them off to give them a break, grazed them on some adjacent grassland for a week and then put them back onto the woodland for a further two weeks. Thanks to Kevin for taking the pictures.


Once they had grazed down the more palatable grass around the edges the tucked into the new birch leaves stripping them bare. The sheep were then removed and taken away ready for shearing. The birch leaves have since regrown but the small trees are now looking weaker and more 'shrub' like in appearance. We plan to repeat the process next spring to see if we can limit the amount of birch which is starting to dominating the site.

The other major task this month has been to shear all the sheep. fortunately the weather has been kinder this year and we were only rained off once. With lots of small groups of sheep dotted around the area the shearing can be becoming quite a drawn out process with having to move 2-3 times a day. A big thanks to all those volunteers who helped move the pens and roll the wool the job was completed in good time and the wool all packed up ready to be sent away. Let's hope it runs as smoothly next year.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Well it has certainly been an interesting couple of months since my last post. The warmer weather has been a long time coming and because of that grass and any type of growth has been slow.

Over the winter in general there has been less grazing needed on many sites due to the ground being so wet and much of the grass being trodden into the ground instead of being available to graze. The upshot of this has been that stock has been on some sites for a much shorter time than normal which has put pressure on the fields we use as 'lay back' for the animals when they are not needed on the conservation areas.

In general there has been less demand for cattle grazing over the recent months. Some of this is undoubtedly due to budget pressures within the different organisations we graze for. Quiet native breed cattle which are suitable for this type of grazing are not easy to source and with the drop in demand could well lead to some of our graziers withdrawing from the programme. With the ever increasing threat of TB moving northwards I do wonder if using small groups of cattle to graze small and disjointed parcels of land will remain feasible in the future.

This years shearlings have been much slower to finish than usual and when we did have some ready the abattoir had shut down for a refit meaning another 3 week wait. However all is up and running again now and batches are going through at a steady pace. There will plenty of shearling lamb available from our rare breeds through out June and if anyone is interested the can contact us at

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The sheep were enjoying a rare day of sunshine yesterday and like the rest of us looking forward to a better spell of weather. February is supposed to be one of the driest months of the year in these parts........heres hoping!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Things are settling back into a rather wet routine again now after the snow. Hopefully we will get a settled spell for a while to help the water drain away. Thanks to our volunteer checkers who have been keeping a regular on the stock.

This morning I came across a couple of young roe deer in one of the fields, they seemed to be a bit lost. I think they are last years calves (twins) and have probably just been driven off their home territory by their mother and are now having to find their own way and establish territories of their own.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The animals seem to enjoying the change in the weather from the constant rain. The cold doesn't really bother them and the snow isn't deep enough to cause them a problem as they are happy to dig down through it to the grass.

 The only small issue we have had is with an occasional sheep becoming tangled in bramble bushes.
There will be one or two groups to move to new pastures once the snow melts away and it is safe to move them in the trailer.