Day 5 – It all started with sheep

All the lamb we sell in the Farm Shop is 100% grass fed and born and bred on this farm – but how did it all start? 

Mark kept a small flock of Suffolk sheep, the “Pelaw” flock, from the age of 8.  Many happy days were spent lambing and caring for these sheep with the help of retired farmer Joseph Moore, and an 8×4 foot board was covered with rosettes won at shows in Tow Law, Tynedale and at Durham County Show. The whole family was involved, as lambing took place in a disused garage opposite the kitchen, with Brenda (Granny) holding the fort when Mark was at school/college – tragically losing her wedding ring accidentally whilst lambing a ewe. Brother David was also called into action once he’d passed his driving test, taking Mark and his flock off to many and various shows. A great family team effort.  In fact both our families have been a tremendous support to us, especially in those very early years of our farming story.

Those Suffolk sheep formed the start of our flock when we began to farm ourselves in 1992, and we gradually built up numbers, buying Robin Gray’s ewes when he retired and Mule ewe lambs at Hexham mart. 

That all changed in 2001 when we were culled as part of the foot and mouth drama, and when we restocked in 2002 it was with a breed new to us and fairly new to the North East, the Lleyn. Originally from North Wales, these hardy, medium sized sheep had the advantage of being a pure breed, unlike the Mule, meaning that we could breed our own replacements and have more control over our breeding and disease management. The Lleyn was popular with organic farmers and organic conversion was something we were giving serious consideration to at the time.  We bought sheep from the Geldard family in Cumbria and from the Nelles’ in Northumberland.

We’ve stuck with the Lleyn, they are by and large good mothers, and are now lambing around 1500 ewes at the end of March each year.  We have an A flock from which we breed our own replacements, and a B flock which is crossed with a Suffolk to give us some hybrid vigour and a good rump on our lamb chops!  Our sheep are fed on grass and in the winter if they are inside they are given hay and silage, all of this is grown here on the farm.  Lambs born in April will be ready from July onwards, we sell about 450 a year through the shop and the remainder will either be kept as replacement ewes / tups or sold direct to Marks and Spencer.  Mark’s skill is managing to produce 8 lambs a week for the shop throughout the year, no mean feat when they are all born in a 6 week window.   

Please do try our lamb if you haven’t before.  We really think that you’ll taste the difference xx