Sorry for neglecting this Blog, real life gets in the way far too often and we spend so much time "doing" we never seem to have time to re-examine. It has been almost two years to the day since we moved here and I still don't feel like a proper smallholder, or at least I didn't until the beginning of July, this was when these chaps arrived
Meet Beano, Dandy and Dennis, they are staying with us for the summer, eating our grass and making me smile on a daily basis. They belong to a friend who has too many sheep and not enough grass our payment in lieu of rent and care will be half a carcass of prime Lincolnshire lamb. I have despaired at the fact they won't be sheared before they go to the butcher in November, as they all have lovely fleece however I am hoping to have the skins to turn into rugs. I gather there is some special paperwork at the abattoir (when isn't there?) as skin is classed as hazardous waste but it is possible.
It is strange to think that in the last two years we have raised hens for eggs and meat, quail and ducks and kept three pigs but it was someone else's stock that made us feel like "proper" smallholders, I think perhaps it was to do with being seen as trustworthy enough to care for what is essentially valuable assets . The arrangements suit us perfectly as when there owner comes to do any healthcare jobs we get to help and learn, which will help when we get sheep of our own. We will definitely keep sheep of our own next year, probably orphan lambs as we don't really have enough land to keep ewes and lambs. the joy of this experience is that it has cost us nothing but we have gained confidence and skills which will help us be better shepherds.
Its not a complete disaster on the fleece front either as the owners of the sheep have fleeces from the parents and older sisters of the boys that I can take my pick of. I have quite a collection of fleece now and need to start the long process of washing it all before the lovely weather we have been used to disappears. My spinning has improved loads but there aren't enough hours in the day at the moment, come winter when outdoor jobs are less pressing I will be happily pedalling away hopefully sitting on a new sheepskin rug.