What a busy few months at Home Farm.
No sooner had we finished lambing then we seemed to be straight into shearing. What a stressful time, trying to pick the perfect weather window - warm dry weather is essential - and trying to fit in with the shearers' other plans.
I personally stand over the shearers to make sure the sheep are handled properly and that the wool goes into the right bags before sorting. It's fantastic to see the newly shorn sheep skipping out into the field delighted to be free of their heavy fleeces. It is exhausting work but my hands finish the day lovely and soft, coated with lanolin from handling and packing the fleeces.
Jason takes all the bags of fleece and stores it by breed and colour into one of our spare stables. Every sunny day from then until August is spent sorting, picking and weighing the fleece to meet the advanced orders that we have received and the many orders that come in at this time of year. It is incredibly satisfying to receive the feedback from our many happy customers who receive my washed and unwashed fleece.
We keep a careful eye on the lambs to make sure they are gaining weight and on the mums to make sure they aren't losing condition. Its amazing how lambing can impact on the quality of the fleece.
Through May and June our attention turns to hay and haylage making, and we are really lucky to have Mik and Steven who help us every year with making our haylage. I have even got them into using the pink bale wrap, which supports a great charity (Breast Cancer) though gets me a few frowns from the local Councillor.
We also do a number of shows (see events page on our website) and its great fun to meet new customers and catch up with previous customers and hear (and even see) about some of their projects.
The shows gave us a chance to exhibit our new 4 ply and aran yarn - freshly back from Laxtons. The 4 ply is a real 'labour of love' as it has taken me years of carefully storing the fleece and building up my flock of Black Wensleydales. The new yarn feels incredible and has been very popular.
August is coming to an end and we have decided to 'Blue tongue' vaccinate this year. It seems incredible to me that the Belgian, German and Spanish Governments will pay for their animals to be vaccinated but we have to rely on the DEFRA website that hasn't been updated since February and pay ourselves! Its very expensive but gives me peace of mind knowing that I have done my best to protect this wonderful flock of rare breed sheep.