The Smiling Sheep

Cottage Industry - Smallholding Life in Devon

The Sheep

Balwen lambOur primary flock is of rare breed, Balwen sheep. They are a small, slow-growing breed that originated in the hills of Carmarthenshire.

Each lamb is born with a black fleece which often changes, as it gets older, into a deep chocolate brown, with some eventually turning grey in their second or third year. All Balwens have a distinctive white blaze to the nose as well as white “socks” and tail tips (the name “Balwen” derives from the Welsh for “White Blaze”).

Following the tradition for the breed, we choose not to dock the tails of any lambs born on the smallholding.

In 2015 we also took on 6 Katmoget Shetland sheep - cream coloured with distinctively striped faces (there's a picture of little Saffron below) and dark underbellies. Shetlands are a small, hardy breed famous for the quality of their fleece (and their mischievous nature!) and they've settled in well with their Welsh cousins.

Welfare

The sheep have the run of nearly seven acres of peaceful, lush, green pasture. This means that they graze and grow in a non-intensive, natural way without the need for supplements. Their welfare is our most important consideration and we visit them at least twice every day to check that they are well and happy. 

The flock

In 2016, we are breeding from 16 ewes (having started with 5 in 2013) but this number will continue to be added to, naturally, over the next few years as more ewe lambs are born here. We also keep some older castrated males who are very friendly and good role models for the rest of the flock.

Our ram lambs stay with us over the winter and have an extra summer grazing the land compared with lambs from commercial flocks which are sent off for meat at 4-6 months old. We sell a limited amount of our “Two Summer Lamb” to friends and family. You can see the details here...

Fleece

The sheep are shorn in June and the fleeces are used to make our hand-woven shawls and throws


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