Newsletter 3 - December 2012
The Bales (Brynmawr Agricultural Lifestyle Education Sanctuary) Name the building competition
Remember the prize (box of organic veg/meat) was to go to a worthy cause. Well have you ever tried to find one who wants fresh produce? Originally we were taking a box to St Winfred’s in Shrewsbury who do meals for the homeless twice a day every day of the year. However in the end the box was donated to a Quaker Group based in Bishops Castle who provided a Christmas dinner for the elderly and lonely in the Church Barn Bishops Castle. Their phone number is 01588 650490.
I am not going to mention the rain again suffice it to say we have no veg so we can do very little in the way of Farmers Markets this year and we just about managed to get the last of the barley in and wrap some straw in between the very wet bits.
We have had though, LOTS and LOTS of new arrivals. We have bought in some Improved Welsh sheep – with the intention of keeping the characteristics of Welsh Mountain sheep such as lambing outside and hardiness but at the same time getting heavier lambs for market.
Then came the Pedigree Shetlands a hardy rare breed to go onto Rhos Fiddle Nature Reserve with the Hebrideans.
Then came Peg another sheep dog who recognises the difference between away and come-bye better than Meg.
Finally we have the replacement Hereford heifers. (There is Meg in this photo too).
The heifers came after the dreaded TB test, at which we went clear. I would just like to say here that there now is a vaccination for bovine TB for COWS as well as badgers AND there is a test that can differentiate between a vaccinated cow and one who has TB, it all just needs the government to get a move on.......we can live in hope!
September and October are traditional times for new stock. A lot is bought at pedigree ram sales (which includes ewe’s!). You may be interested that Bishop’s Castle has one of the very few open air sheep sales left in the country, in fact Bishop’s Castle has two, one at the beginning of October and one towards the end. This is when you can buy your new rams and maybe replacement ewes. Why would you need a new ram? Well you can either keep your old ram and always sell off its progeny or replace your rams if you are keeping your ewe lambs for breeding (because we don’t want dad breeding with his offspring do we!). Or of course you may want to improve your flock and therefore want to have a better ram. Then again you musn’t forget that the poor rams do get worn out from all their hard work! The ideal number of rams to ewes is 30 to 1 if they are young rams, so again as your flock increases you may need another ram. Obviously the ideal time to purchase is before tupping time, hence the sales being in October – ideally you should get them early and keep them in quarantine before going to your ewes. The biggest ram sales for Pedigree animals is the NSA ram sale at the Royal Welsh showground ...
... dig deep in your pockets if you want a pedigree Blue Leicester Ram (these are used as what is known as terminal sires, more of that another time)– you could be several thousand pounds worse off (maybe that is why we haven’t got one! As well as the fact they are big softies and wouldn’ t cope with our weather).
Enough about sheep!
What Else has been happening?
After our teachers twilight meeting we have been visiting those schools that weren’t able to come or those which we had not been able to contact in time. We have been giving them a presentation showing what the farm has to offer. Here is one school who visited just recently. We hope for lots of visits in the spring and summer term, so we can use the farm to emphasise parts of the curriculum. The head teachers also seem to like the ‘Run Your Own Stock Enterprise scheme’ which would be great to start off in March when the new lambs start appearing.
Run your own stock farming enterprise
This is a three year programme - which covers the life cycle of a lamb to sheep. The class start by choosing a lamb to buy in the first session, and by the thrid year seeing what profit (or not!) they have made for the school.
There is a farm visit each year with practicacl activities with the sheep and a newsletter throughout the year with other sheepy activities. This is a morning or afternoon session and costs only around £45 to £70 for the purchase of the lamb.
We have been also further developing the content of the web site - so we can direct schools and visitors to it when we are talking about the farm, and, we and making a film for You-tube – here is a picture of Lois setting up a shot. More about both in a later newsletter.
And we have been developing a programme of courses, both small farm/small holder courses and also workshops, with the help of Julia Walling from Woods for Wellbeing, that may appeal to everybody.
Here is the poster for Jan– April workshops.
We will have lamb and Highland beef for sale on 20th Dec.
Last but not least – have a very good Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
If you want any information about The Bales or Free farm tours don’t hesitate to contact us.