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Chicken maths on steroids!

So we started with a handful of chickens, we sadly lost one, replaced with 3 more, fancied some different coloured eggs ended up with 7 more and so it goes until we have 25 chickens and half a dozen ducks.

Along the way we took on 2 dwarf goats that were losing there home, leading us to navigate the stormy ride of gaining all the correct paperwork to enable us to keep livestock. So by now we are at 25 chickens, 6 ducks and 2 goats.

Selling our now abundant eggs at the gate, together with some gluten free cakes led us to meet a local shepherdess who had been recommended our cakes, we chatted and by the end of the transaction had purchased 4 sheep, 2 ewes and 2 wethers (boys who have had their bits and pieces dealt with) and of my favourite ever breed, gorgeous Herdwicks. I had always been reluctant to have sheep as they are renowned for being difficult health wise, and constantly seeking ways to die. Chickens are bad enough as they come in 2 states alive or dead but sheep are a whole different level, sheep seem to go out of their way to make their own lives difficult and try everything that may result in their own death.

So 4 sheep, 2 goats, 25 sheep and 6 ducks…… means we are now smallholders!

But 6 is a nicer number for sheep! so we take 2 more ewes, all of them born earlier in the year, resplendent with their white legs and faces and brown woolly coats, adorable and funny, shy yet curious. we got chatting to a Herdwick shepherd at a country show and he advised that Rich Tea biscuits were the way to their hearts and would help us start to tame them which is imperative for health checks and preventing problems. It took a few days but their little hearts softened and they became obsessed with the blue crinkly packets that we would bring in the afternoons.

the biscuit tin was born! named from our sheep’s obsession for all things sweet and crispy.

I had always crafted in various forms, needle felted for many years and now I had a constant supply of wool, such a precious product, natural, warm yet cool, antimicrobial, breathable, fire resistant, UV resistant, renewable, biodegradable its thoroughly undervalued and underused.

So started to needle felt using the wool the sheep left on the fence, was gifted a fleece and diligently washed and carded this to use. I’ve made hares, dogs, foxes, mice but my true love is making little sheep, and this is what I do now, with the odd highland cow and chicken thrown in!

Owning the sheep and learning about the UK wool trade has made me obsessive about this truly wonderful product.

Skipping forward and my half century birthday gifted me my beautiful Hilda, a 5 year old Herdwick ewe in lamb with twins, and shortly after this 7 more sweet little ewes from another flock.

So bringing us up to date on the smallholding we have 16 sheep (3 which are reared for meat, 2 lambs and 11 ewes), 25 chickens, 2 goats and 2 ducks (Mrs Fox stole them whilst they were free ranging). A kitchen garden, a thriving honesty box, and a craft business.

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