Lambskins... they're back from the tannery

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When we sent two of our lambs to slaughter in September, I brought back their skins so I could have them made into rugs. They came back from the tannery this week and they are gorgeous!

Lambskins are a by-product of having a lamb slaughtered for meat and usually they are not returned to the producer. Some abattoirs send some to tanneries for them to be processed into rugs but most are thrown away. When we were thinking about keeping sheep and raising lambs for meat, I thought it was a waste and I looked into rug making from lambskins ...

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The stirrings of the new year

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The first month of 2018 is reaching its end and there is now a sense that the new year has firmly begun, the cogs of the wheel of the year re-engaged after the pause and call for hibernation around the Winter Solstice. One month on and the hours of daylight have increased noticeably. Our hens now stay out for a whole hour longer and they are laying more eggs. The snowdrops are out and each day, I notice a new clump of beautiful white flowers blooming along the lane. Crocus, narcissi, daffodil and tulip bulbs are popping up in pots ...

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Happy Winter Solstice!

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Today is the Winter Solstice, an important point in the calendar as it marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is a celebration of the returning light that goes on gaining strength until the Summer Solstice in June. The Winter Solstice also marks the start of a new season: Winter, when nature is dormant, wildlife hibernates and the trees that have shed their leaves now put all their energy into their roots deep underground.

Very appropriately, I spent this morning at a Winter Solstice Mindfulness event in woodland at Erddig Hall near Wrexham. Our group ...

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Snowed in!

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After a weekend of heavy snow fall, we are snowed in! Peter stayed at home today as there was no way he would attempt to drive down the hill to work. Getting out of our drive alone would have been a challenge with 18 cm of snow and a fair amount of ice too!

Once the sheep were fed with plenty of fresh bedding in their shelters and hay in the racks and once we had broken the ice off the drinkers and water troughs, we enjoyed walks to take photos. Especially today as the sun was out and the ...

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Home is where the hearth is

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At this time of year, governed by the decreasing hours of sunlight, we spend much more time indoors. Days are short and we begin to retreat inside from just after 4pm. The hens take themselves back into their coop from around that time and I pack away their food in the shed for the night. I do a final check on the sheep too and then begin to prepare the house for the evening and the night: topping up the log baskets, drawing the curtains and preparing dinner.

One thing that I notice at this time of year is how ...

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The gift of memories, rest and relaxation this Christmas

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I know Christmas is several weeks away yet but some people like to get organised early and we have come up with an idea for a gift that is not a "thing"!

We are offering gift vouchers for stays at our shepherd's hut. They are available in multiples of £60, which is the cost of one night at the shepherd's hut, with breakfast is included. You can purchase as many nights as you want and we will send you a handmade voucher to give out with all the details. The recipient can then get in touch with us ...

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Samhain, gateway to Winter

Celebrated by the Celts, Samhain is the festival that marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the darkening months of the year. At mid-point between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, we are now entering darker times as we journey through the last quadrant on the Wheel of the Year before the Winter Solstice when the light returns. The clocks went back at the weekend and I have noticed how the energy of the sun is now much weakened, like it is getting tired and ready for its last breath.

While I was out gardening yesterday ...

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A (not so gentle) introduction to hen keeping

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Two weeks ago, we purchased four hens and their coop. Their keeper, from just over the hill from us, was moving away into rented accommodation and could not take them with them. We collected the coop first and got it ready for the hens. Betty, a Splash Maran, and her brood (a Light Sussex, a Speckledy and a Blubell) arrived in cardboard boxes at night time and we transferred them into their own coop but at their new location at ours. They made a little fuss but quickly settled in for the night.

The next morning, I let them out ...

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Reflection and contemplation at the Autumn Equinox

The area where we live is rich in ancient woodlands and, at this time of year, it is a delight to witness our hillside change colours: the lush greens of Summer are now being replaced by the golden and rusty tones of Autumn. It is a beautiful scene that not only takes my breath away but also offers a wisdom to me.

This show of yellows, oranges and reds is an indication that trees are responding to the weakening power of the sun, the shorter days and the dropping air temperature. In preparation for Winter when there is not enough ...

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A milestone in our smallholding life

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This week sees us reach an important milestone in our smallholding life, an event that we have seen coming and been preparing for for the last five months. On Monday, we took the concept of "homegrown" to a new level by taking two of our lambs to the abattoir.

It was very hard and, if I am honest with myself, I am not completely at peace with doing it. I feel conflicted as I wrestle with the ethics of it... is it right for an animal to be born and then slaughtered for meat a few months later? It feels ...

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Website by Thomas Leese. Illustrations by Claire Leese.