Notes from Meetings
Rota for checking sheep
Sheep Rota July August 2015
Sheep Rota Sept Oct 15
All animals did well over the summer and the two oldest ewes have recently been turned into suasages and burgers to realise some cash. This year's lambs have been separated from the older ewes who are now running with a loaned Dorset ram. In the spring the male lambs will have fattened enough for the butcher and will be another source of funds to maintain the flock.
The final lamb, a healthy male was born unaided today. So a total of 6 lambs this year.
A number of 'shepherds' turned out to give the flock some TLC, clipping hooves and cleaning up dirty bottoms. All ewes and lambs now in the top orchard.
but where are the sheep?
Early thus morning another Jacob gave birth unaided to a female lamb. So only one ewe yet to lamb but probably not for a while.
All bar the new mother and her lamb are now in the top orchard.
On March 11th one of the Jacob ewes struggled to birth a very latge lamb which was stillborn.
On 19th March we had three more lambs arrive. The Welsh Black gave birth unaided in the early morning and was moved into the barn. Later in the evening another Jacob unexpectedly produced twins, the first in the Brook House chicken run and the second in the garage!.
Our Dorset ewe was the first to give birth on 4th March, to twins, a male and a female, with no human help. She knew exactly what to do and is proving a great mum. The twins were born outsde but were immediately led into the barn for protection from the elements and foxes.
March 1st 2015
A large working party of all ages turned out to prepare the lower orchard and barn for the coming lambing. The barn was swept out, brambles cut back and the fence extended to include a larger area for grazing. That complete the four ewes expected to lamb in March were enticed by a rattling bucket of their favourite nuts to walk through the village from the Brook House field to the gate at the bottom of the orchard, and on up to their new home. Easy!!
January/ February 2015
The six ewes which had been away with the ram returned to the Community Orchard, hopefully in lamb. Shortly afterwards one of last year's lambs which had remained with us over-winter died suddenly despite avet's treatment. So our flock now numbers nine animals.
After a few weeks, as grass began to run short they were moved to the field opposite Brook House. This year the aim is to lamb the ewes ourselves.
As only three lambs survived from our ewes we bought another ewe with a lamb making four lambs in total for the season.
29 March 2014
Our first three lambs arrived today - all very sweet! Our Dorset Cross had twins and one of last year's lambs had a single.
12 March 2014
A working party spent Sunday morning preparing the barn and area outside it, ready for our new lambs. Brambles and hedging were clipped back, dead grass scythed away and fencing put in place. All in beautiful sunshine, after many wet and dreary weeks.
20 March 2013
The first lambs arrived in early March, triplets of which two survived, followed by another set of triplets. This time only one survived. We have been told that many farmers are struggling, after the difficult winter, to keep triplets alive but we were sad to lose ours. However the remaining three lambs are doing well and should be joined shortly by another ewe, our Welsh Black who is due to lamb shortly. Two more of our ewes (last years's lambs), which did not conceive in their first season, will also be returning to join our flock.
March 28th 2013
Sadly the Welsh Black had triplets, none of which survived their first day. She and the two ewe lambs which did not conceive have returned to our flock.
On Saturday 20th April the lambs with their mothers were transferred across the road to the upper orchard where they joined the rest of the flock.
First the lambs had to be tagged
In early June the three lambs we had overwintered were taken to the abbatoir and the meat bought by members of the group.
The community flock was started in 2011 (see further down this page for the flock's history).
The most recent developments are posted at the top of the page
All the sheep prospered over the summer and a meeting was held on 8th October to discuss plans for the winter. It was decided that two old ewes would be slaughtered for meat, being too old to breed again while the three younger ewes and two of the largest ewe lambs would be taken to Reg, the farmer to be put to a ram, overwintered and lambed. Four of the remaining boy lambs would be butchered for meat in a few weeks time and the other three would be wintered in our own orchard and a neighbouring field.
13th October. Sorting out the flock for the winter..
Our first Jacob ewe returned with one male lamb on 19 February and was housed in the lower orchard barn. As the second Jacob was not yet confirmed pregnant we purchased another ewe, a Welsh black, with twin Dorset cross lambs. They joined the others on 4 March.. After a week or so in the barn the flock was introduced to the world outside, first into a pen outside the barn, and finally into the upper orchard on 12 March. We now know that our second Jacob is in lamb.
A further two Jacob ewes were purchased, each with twins, one male and one female, again Dorset crosses. They arrived on Saturday 17 March and immediately bonded with the current sheep.
After a long wait our remaining ewe returned with twin male lambs on 15 May, completing the current flock.
At a meeting on 14 March three further families joined the Shepherds Group, bringing the total number of households involved to twelve.
Sequence of arrivals
First to arrive - our Jacob ewe with her Jacob Dorset cross male lamb on February 19 2012
Arriving in the trailer
In the barn
Ten days later
Second family arrived on 5th March. The ewe is a Black Welsh and the lambs, one male, one female are Dorset cross.
Arriving at the barn
Meeting the new neighbours
Settled in the new home
First day out 12 March 2012
Saturday 17 March - two more ewes with twins
Sunday 15 April - all growing apace.
After a long wait our last ewe arrived back with beautiful week old twin lambs on Sunday 15 May.. They will stay in the barn for a while before joining the flock in the orchard. We now have five ewes and nine lambs.
A group of residents decided that owning a small flock of sheep would be a good way of keeping the grass down in the community orchard. After a period of fact finding nine individuals or families paid a sum of money into a flock fund with which an initial purchase of three Jacob cross ewes, each with twin lambs. Unfortunately one ewe was lost to blow fly strike fairly early on but the shepherds learnt from the experience and the rest of the flock thrived. In the autumn the two ewes returned to their original farm to be put to a ram, while the lambs were enjoyed as meat by the shepherds.
The plan is to have the two ewes, with new lambs, back in the spring and to increase the flock to a size suitable for the maintenance of the orchard.
A local farmer sheared the ewes in May
The flock with younger shepherds at apple picking time.