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Jacob Sheep : venerable old ladies

Our Jacob sheep are very special to us, and spend a long long time with us. These ladies now have no teeth, and in their own paddock so can have a little special feed every day, and are doing extremely well. They have given us many twins and triplet lambs between them, and deserve their retirement. They are certainly not shy ! and their fleeces are still beautiful quality. 

Knepp Estate – rewilding & farming in the UK

The revolutionary project in rewilding a large area of farmland at Knepp Castle estate in the south of England is now 17 years old, and is showing remarkable results in wildlife regeneration as well as livestock productivity – check out this article in the Daily Mail to learn details.   and the Knepp website . 

This is a 3500 acre estate but with smaller areas of land we can emulate their results we hope, a bit more managed, and with lower aspirations maybe, but, as we increase our diversity of species and habitat on our small 24 acres, we look forward to new wildlife. And as the way we manage our livestock within this changes to improving even further the wonderful meat, eggs, and other produce from our holding to keep us sustainable and create a legacy for future generations. 

(new book coming out:  Wilding: The Return Of Nature To A British Farm by Isabella Tree, published by Picador on May 3)

The Soil

We need to learn to heal the land, replace the diversity of our food ecosystems. 

Mother nature she can take us or leave us
We told her we loved her
She did not believe us
We have got this “planet running a fever”
She tried to warn us but we did not believe her
                                                Aboriginal knowledge

 

So much of our carbon issues is due to loss of top soil. In Australia over 50% of top soil lost since the late 1700s

Plants are the bridge between the atmospheric CO2 and that of the soil, and all growers – gardeners, crofters, farmers – are part of the future ways to capture carbon, feeding ourselves, feeding our livestock, building strength in diversity. Plants feed the soil, along with the livestock management.

On a small land scale we can do so much more to improve the soil here. And this has begun. 

Planting trees creates stability, builds the mycorrhizal fungi networks beneath the paddocks that allows the minerals to be released to the plant species. 

Grazing management changes how plants grow. One option is to move stock daily, in high concentrations on small areas, with electric fencing. There are great results happening to soils this way, but its not always possible to achieve. Keeping livestock moving can be done in other ways, we have increased the numbers of paddocks here. This frequent movement also helps to break the worm and fluke cycles. 

Increasing the nutritional levels of our soils can be done using materials we have or can buy in : rockdust is a crushed mineral rich granite from the North east of Scotland (our local granite has been recognised as mineral poor even back in the early days of agricultural improvements several centuries ago) .. it has the magic number of 42 ! micro nutrients to add to the soils. 
If you can get coffee, composts, manure, these are good to spread on the land to particularly add nitrogen. 
If you have a wood burning fire, then woodash is a powerful resource of potash .. this should be very sparingly used as a lot of wood goes into creating small amounts of ash. 

Using gaps in hedgerow can be used to plant species we want to add to the grazing pasture. Flowers can seed and infiltrate the pasture diversity.  
Encouraging more plants in the pasture is key – even “weeds” as they often have deep tap roots that can bring minerals from deep down to the surface in their plant material that is then trodden down and becomes available to the microbes and the surface species. 

A microscope can be a really useful way to learn more about soil microbes. A fascinating study to understand the ways of millions of organisms working so hard on our behalf. Youtube is a great way to learn how to recognise the species and what they do for us. 

Oban Food Assembly : producers and customers

An exciting conversation today with the organisers of the upcoming Oban Food Assembly as a producer ourselves (and our past experience running local community markets) 

Anyone who is serious about local food please sign up as potential customers to the Food Assembly. There are folk who are working hard to bring this about in Oban .. as a weekly food event. If you register, you can sign into the existing markets like Stirling, and get a feel for how it works.
And more importantly you will show those who are beetling in the background that there is support for their efforts.
The aim is to start in May
All the “shopping” will be online, and then you collect once a week in town.
https://thefoodassembly.com/en/assemblies/9358

wild, native, herb, perennial Plants wanted ! . anyone clearing out? a welcome home here

This winter we are planting out 9 copses with young native trees, but there will be plenty of space to underplant, there are also several ponds being created.
We would love to add more native plants / seeds / pollinators / herbs / perennials / scrub to increase the diversity, increase the flowering seasons, to improve the habitats for insects and other small animals.
If anyone is clearing out plants that have taken over, or you have a building project where they are in the way, they would have a very welcome home here.

We have wet, dry, sandy, boggy, north, south, shade, light 🙂 

Bulbs

  • bluebells
  • ransoms / wild garlic
  • snowdrops
  • crocus
  • anemone
  • camassia
  • others ..

Pond plants

  • Bulrush
  • Teasel 
  • Primula candalabra
  • Watercress
    Perennials – native, herbs, flowers, pollinators

  • Geranium
  • Marshmallow
  • Hollyhock
  • Rattle
  • Devils bit scabious
    trees

  • Natives for future planting
    shrubs for flowers, shelter, 

  • Geranium

Rockdust

One of our Soil improving ingredients we are using on the farm is Remin Volcanic Rockdust.
We are a sandy loam soil, in a high rainfall area. Over the past 3 decades here we have had a lot of poultry over the ground,and they have done good things to improve much of our pasture in many ways.
Jill’s health collapse some years ago really raised awareness of food as a medicine, and the importance of it being full of nutrition, but her fibromyalgia meant that growing our own veggies was out of reach. But the forced “stop” to much of our busyness did allow new studying and awareness of permaculture and regenerative farming.
Improving our soil ecosystem is a paramount priority in developing our Living Larders across the farm; sandy soils in wet areas tend to be very depleted in essential micronutrients; long term illnesses are also associated with depleted body resources.
We are now doing an assortment of different things to build the fertility, diversity and quality of our soils.
Remin Volcanic Rockdust gives us 42 micronutrients to feed the organisms in our soil, that plants can access directly and the complementary organisms will convert for more supplies.
Our veggie pallet beds, lasagna beds, fruit guilds, and emerging food forest are all being treated.. and slowly even across our fields, so the grazing is fed, and thence our livestock get even more goodness to pass on in their produce.
We are also an agent for Remin – you can come and buy 20kg bags from us, or order pallets of rockdust to be delivered directly to your door.
Remin is perfect for boosting your food nutrition, treating tired soil and giving the soil ecosystem better resources as a long term legacy.

Fresh Mutton from the End of February

We are sending some of our Jacob boys away to Mull in a months time, where they will hang for at least 10 days before being expertly butchered and coming home around the end of February.

They were all born here, and raised with us for the last 30 months. 

There will be some joints, but also lots of chops and the best of all is the mince. It makes fantastic pasta sauces, the best shepherds pies and yummiest chilli. The diced mutton lifts stews to new heights, perfect for our winter weather and makes amazing pies. 

We will be freezing plenty so there will be supplies in coming months too. 

If you are interested in pre – ordering to get it fresh as it arrives please get in touch. 

Tree Planting Parties

Tree Planting Parties :

  • TOMORROW!! (yeah, I know its no notice at all but there are good reasons!!) and the weather looks FAB !
  • 29th December
  • FIRST !! of January ..

We have several lovely small copse areas to plant, great soils, with a range of native tree species, as well as some food trees for US and fodder shrubs for our sheep.
There is also some bulbs and planting for the insects and make the areas even more beautiful in the future.
Thanks to the The Woodland Trust we have some great young trees waiting to go in and all the protective covers for them all.
PLEASE let me know if you want to come so I know about food .. or you will go hungry and we do not want that !!
We have some tools but if you have a spade / gloves that would be really useful.