Here come the flerd

Firstly, the length of time since the last blog post is shameful. Say no more. We think there’s good reason for that though. We always knew that coming in to Spring, the pace of life at Lynbreck was going to shift up a fair few gears.

 Flerd 4 June 2018

Well that has certainly happened, and then some. Without going into all the detail, it’s been a few months of hedge planting, fencing, building work and of course the arrival of our beasties – the flerd.

 Flerd 3 June 2018

A flerd is a mixed flock of sheep and herd of cattle. Our flerd comprises of 6 Highlanders and 5 Jacob sheep (so far). They live side by side and all come from local farms meaning that they are well used to our ever changing climate.

 

Cattle and hens May 2018 RESIZED

Our hens are wannabe flerd members

 

In an effort to get the most out of our grassland for wildlife and for our animals, we are mob grazing. Every day we moo-ve our flerd onto fresh grass in an electric fenced paddock. They stay in there for 24 hours chomping, trampling, pooping, peeing, chewing, playing and snoozing and then with a simple ‘come on’ call, they skip into the next paddock,. We make sure they take some grass and leave some grass, but all the time their impact is improving and building soil. Grazed paddocks are given a long period of rest before the flerd hit them up again.

 

Grassland diversity

We want grasslands bursting with wildflowers and diversity

 

Mineral lick May 2018 RESIZED

We sprinkle wildflower seed into their mineral lick so they literally poop flowers!

 

 

Later in the summer they’ll venture out onto the flats where, free roaming, they’ll see the summer out amongst the heather before coming back in for another sweep of the fields until the depths of winter arrive once again.

 

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The flats. A wide open expanse perfect for a wild roaming flerd

 

These native breeds fit Lynbreck like a glove. They merrily munch in all weathers and their patience with their novice owners is humbling. They watch us daily as we scratch our heads trying to figure out paddock designs while getting entangled in, and even zapped by mobile electric fencing – we wonder what they must make of us.

 

Flora with hay on horn May 2018 RESIZED

It’s not as if they don’t have their own mishaps. In the beginning when we had to supplement their daily feed with some hay, Flora had more issues with wearing hay than actually eating it!

 

We’re lucky to have them here, and, we’re pretty sure they like it too

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21st Century Croft

On Your Farm pic

Over the last couple of months we’ve been interviewed by BBC Radio 4 for a programme called On Your Farm.

The programme called 21st Century croft will be aired this Sunday at 06:35am and should be full of us chatting about trees, bees, pigs, hens and cows and how they form part of our croft team where mother nature is the boss.

And for those of you who don’t want to miss out on a lie in, there’s always catch up on iPlayer

We’d be grateful for any shares around your networks and hope you can listen in!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09zt495

 

The Crofter

We were delighted to be invited to write a short piece for the Scottish Crofting Federation magazine ‘The Crofter’. We’ve included a copy below which we hope you will enjoy.

We feel like proper crofters now…

 

Crofter article March 20180005

 

Trees for the Croft

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Last Saturday we were really chuffed to host our first course at Lynbreck – the first of many we hope.

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No missing us with this at the top of the track!

 

In partnership with the Woodland Trust and the Scottish Crofting Federation we welcomed a planting army of 16 people to our croft to talk about one of our favourite topics – trees.

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Our byre was transformed into a croft café

 

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And we were determined people would stay well fed for the day. In fact these goodies were made for us by one of our wonderful neighbours!

 

In the morning, Donnie kicked off the event with a great introduction to the basics of tree planting.

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Exciting to see our byre full of people!

 

Then after a little presentation by us, we all headed outside to see how it’s done.

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Rose (chief hen) insisted on helping….

 

After a cold morning in our new byre and an even chillier session in the field, hot soup and plenty of food and cake was just what was needed.

Full of fuel (and sugar!) our army took to the task in hand with impressive energy and vigour – just under 500 trees were planted in around 90minutes. That’s just over a tenth of the total of our new hedgerow to be planted so it was a massive boost to us.

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We really enjoyed the day and look forward to welcome more folks to the croft in future for learning, chatting and cake eating. Thanks so much to everyone who came.

We’re not telling porkies…

Well to say we’ve been delighted with the sales of our free range, rare breed pork is an understatement. We have had such a positive reaction whilst out and about delivering to new folks and existing friends of the croft. There have been long hours and late nights but we are very much enjoying delivering our local produce to local people.

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Getting ready for a delivery – we even have our Lynbreck clothing range now!

 

We like to be honest about our journey here at Lynbreck and it’s fair to say that the whole ‘pig’ process from start to finish has been a HUGE learning curve for us new crofters.

Once we got the pork back from our butcher, we stock checked what we had before deciding on how to sell it.

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We have some very kind neighbours who let us keep our meat in their chiller for the first few days

 

We did a bit of market research and worked out what we thought would be a fair price for our meat to keep it affordable. We then added up what it cost us to have the pigs – initial purchase, feed, butchery and abattoir costs mainly. The prices we ended up charging will allow us to simply break even once all the boxes are sold. Well sort of. We didn’t include things like our bigger croft costs; insurances, fencing, fuel, wages for example. But that, we’ve now learnt first-hand, is the challenge of farming and local small scale food production today – making things pay to cover their whole true cost.

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Top quality meat. Every delivery came with a little leaflet with more information on the animals that it came from

 

And now? Well if anything we feel even more up for the challenge and so excited about the future than we did before – we’re absolutely full of ideas for the next time, and the next and the next. And my goodness we have learnt so much.

We have aspirations, one day, for Lynbreck salami’s, cured hams, smoked meats, bacon, the list is endless. Might even squeeze a bit of artisan cheese in there if we get a milking cow…. And each time we’ll make tweaks to improve things, all the while helping us to build the foundations of a viable, local croft business where nature friendly farming rules the roost.

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We’ve already started practising for the future. We kept some meat behind to practice making our own Lynbreck homemade……

 

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SAUSAGES. These ones are garlic and black pepper. One day we hope to butcher and prepare all our meat ourselves

 

Ultimately we feel very supported by our local community and we simply can’t thank our first customers enough for taking the leap of faith with us and believing in us and our way of stewarding the land. We hope you enjoy what we do, like what we produce and look forward to the next instalment.

If you’re interested in any of our pork, check out our website for what’s available and how to order