As many will know, a couple of dairy sheep is an eventual dream plan – to serve the purpose of producing enough milk for the family, and to make cheese and/or butter. They will live in the large orchard quarter and the grass quarter, migrating between the two. The idea being that the grass quarter will grow, well, grass, until it’s cut around end of June. This will make, at best, 20 bales of hay which we can store for winter, and after the hay is cut the sheep can move into that quarter, grazing it until February. Then they go into the large orchard quarter and the cycle begins again.
Well, the large orchard trees won’t be ready to graze under for another 5-6 years, so until then we need a stop-gap. Last weekend I believe we found them, in the shape of Ryeland sheep. They’re a smaller sheep, ideally placed to a smallholder’s requirements; hardier than larger commercial strains, they’re an old breed from Gloucestershire, famed for their flavour and ease to husband. They’re relatively short and docile, coming to you rather than running from you. They’re practically immune to foot rot and can live all year on good quality grass with no supplements, and their fleeces are sought after by the new generation of yarn makers. We can keep 3 on half an acre, but I have to do some thinking as we can’t give them half an acre just yet – watch this space.