In late March we took delivery of a batch of 20 pedigree Shropshire shearling ewes, and they started life here in Middle Barn undergoing a number of veterinary procedures much to their general disapproval. After a three hour ride in a trailer the last thing you want is a footbath, several vaccinations, and a worming drench. Anyway, they soon settled in and after a week inside we turned them out into Middle Barn field. Since then they’ve grazed the orchard, where they did no damage, followed by the Christmas tree plantation from which they were evicted about 12 hours later. Turns out our Shropshires consider Nordmann Fir a delicacy not to be missed. Seeing as the main reason we bought them was to keep the grass down in the Christmas tree plantations this was a bit of a blow. Anyway, we’ve got them now so we’ll all have to rub along somehow.
Also, having moved them a few times we have now realised why they invented sheep dogs. Shropshires are in strong demand amongst smallholders and rare breed fans, and as ours are destined to become organic thanks to a derogation from the soil association and the fact that Stolford is an organic enterprise, we plan to put them to a pedigree Shropshire ram this autumn with a view to selling on the offspring as organic pedigree breeding stock. I think our Christmas trees were a bit young and small this year, so we’ll have another go next year when they’re a bit bigger. Also, we did leave a two day gap really before all the veterinary stuff. We still have plans for more sheep but I think we’ll pick another breed for the larger flock.