Autumn on a small farm in Wales
The rich colours of Autumn are arriving gently this year in our beautiful corner of West Wales. The Hawthorn and Rowan berries are more prolific than I’ve ever seen before and the harvest of wild blackberries was wonderful this year. I’ve made jams and blackberry vodka (Christmas presents and cold remedies!) as well as crumbles and pies and still have a freezer full of them - which is fantastic now but will feel even better in the dark berry-less months ahead!
I moved back to Wales in October 2017 - originally from Monmouthshire I fell in love with the countryside of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion whilst driving my eldest son to university in Aberystwyth. Little did I know in 2015 that two years on I’d be making a new life for me and my children in this gorgeous area of wild and majestic mountains, gently rolling hills and fields of sweet faced strong willed sheep!
We came with two Shetland ponies and three Ryeland sheep (along with various chickens, budgies and cat) then soon adopted three Balwens from my uncle.
Balwens are a rare breed sheep from the Towy valley - a small mountain type sheep - dark brown/black with a very distinctive white blaze on the bridge of their nose and white socks, and a white tip to their undocked tails. They’re feisty and independent but also incredibly sweet And its been a joy getting to know them and they now feed from my hand.
My original three Ryelands (two white and a coloured) all successfully lambed this year. It was our first lambing and and exhausting and emotional experience. We bought two gorgeous Ryeland rams last year and some other Ryeland ewe lambs so in all, with a few adopted lambs we have a flock of around thirty. Any small scale farmer will tell you that sheep from a small flock which are gently and regularly handled will become very tame and friendly but our rams in particularly are incredibly affectionate - they are clearly genuinely happy to see us (we don’t take feed buckets to them as they have plenty of lush welsh grass so they’re not looking for treats) and love a face rub and ear tickle and then follow me around the fields whilst I’m doing my work.
We have a few welsh mule sheep for meat but the rest of the flock are kept for their fleece (and all are equally loved and cared for and I believe have a happy and low stress life).
Shearing happens in June/July - look out for my post ...