Thursday, 28 August 2014

Thank Ewe for following!

I really appreciate the views, shares and followers, so would like to say a big THANK EWE!  

And keeping with the theme, thought I would introduce you to our flock.
There is nothing more calming than standing against a gate watching the content grazing of sheep in the sunshine. We have a bit of a Heinz 57 flock in that there is a right old mixture.

The main breed we have are Jacob sheep - who when shorn are goat like. We chose Jacob sheep to start our flock for a few reasons. A friend Helen who, apart from farming gorgeous oysters (, happens to breed Jacob sheep, and she told me that they are a very docile, gentle breed needing very little intervention, especially at lambing time - sounded like music to my ears as a towny!

She sold me a couple to start off with and we liked seeing them in the fields, so bought a few more. Then we got bolder and started breeding them. I spent a little time at Helen's farm watching in awe and then dived right in the deep end!

Now the thing about Jacobs is that they can jump. High. We got a phone call from another friend (who coincidently happens to be one of the very few other breeders of Jacobs) asking me if I had lost anything. Incredulously, one of our girls had leapt a fence, and made its way to the next Jacob flock some several miles away! She knew it was mine because we have to tag sheep to identify where they are from, and their flock number.

Anyway, Jacobs are one of the oldest rare breeds, and although small (so less commercially viable) their meat is absolutely delicious - lamb like nana used to cook. It has a very lean consistency, an earthy taste, and is suited to slow cooking where it falls off the bone.  Mouthwatering yet comforting at the same time!  We are so fortunate to have a talented local chef, Mick Holland, who has cooked for the rich, famous and royalty - Prince William no less - and now cooks for our guests. He takes our lamb (and Helen's if we have run out) and turns it into delicious Northumberland Fare "ready meals" for our cottage guests to order. Can you imagine a bracing walk on the beach and then coming back to just pop Jacob's Shoulder, Jacob's Rump or traditional Northumbrian Hotpot into the oven? (

There is lots of good advice out there for bumbling novices like me, such as the Jacob Sheep Society ( who are always keen to share their expertise. However, the best help I get is from my amazing friends and experts - people like Helen and Leigh. Leigh is a multi award winning Jacob breeder (amongst her many other gifts) and the provider of our rams for tupping each year - here she is winning Glendale Show Champion 2014 (her shelf is creaking under the weight of all her trophies):

We also could not manage without the always helpful Sinky - sheep shearer extraordinaire and Budle Bay Croft's master shepherd (he actually is the very effective manager of a huge farm but helps us out after work sometimes:

Apart from the Jacobs, our other sheep are all rescued lambs, bottle fed and hand reared so incredibly tame - they still feed out of little hands!  We have Texel, Mule and Suffolk crosses, all orphaned and nurtured to full strength by our cottage guests' bottle feeding from March to June.

The orphans are often very weak when they arrive, and we snuggle them, feed them, tickle them and keep them safe until they are strong enough to go into the fields with the other lambs.

At night we bring them back in, because they are vulnerable to attacks from foxes and badgers (did you know a badger can bring down a fully grown Ewe and start eating it alive - it has happened to us and is a truly horrible sight). So, into the Lamb Joint they go for the night, snug as a bug in a rug (well cosy straw anyway!)

And in the morning, you can hear the bleating asking "where's my breakfast?" One of us goes to let them out and they run across the field for a cuddle, then follow us back over to the Lamb Joint for their bottles.

There is something really heartwarming about sitting on a straw bale and watching the hungry lambs guzzle their warm milk down.

Well, I hope ewe found this blog of interest, but until next time, thank ewe for your time!

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