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Hirsel Hebrideans –
All of our sheep are handled regularly, normally receiving monthly foot care and other vet recommended treatments, as well as regular visits, by us, to wherever they’re grazing on the Hirsel. This makes most of them – there are a couple of headstrong mamas! – very manageable. We don’t use dogs for herding, but have ‘bucket trained’ our flock, meaning they come to the shake of a bucket, or even the call, which makes for stress free herding most of the time. (Things get a little exciting when lambing is eminent!) Many of them come to the hand for treats, and some like a bit of grooming. They graze our fields and meadows in the green months – they are important colleagues in the renovation of our meadows and woods – and are given quality feed and home-grown (pesticide free) fodder in the winter months. After hearing lots of advice about ‘don’t give them names, you’ll get too attached’ …we named all of our starter flock, and grew very attached to every one of the 12. Of course, as the flock grows beyond 60, naming all the non-pedigree sheep has fallen to the wayside, but we still treat all of them with affection and as much kindness as is practically possible on a farm. Our theory is that market day will be hard for everyone whether we’re attached or not – but loving them up a little makes life a lot more easy and fun in the meantime.
Meet the cast of characters we live, work and play with on the Hirsel.
All of our lambs born in 2016 and for sale this year, have been spoken for. Our 2017 lambs will go on sale in late summer of next year (2018). We estimate that we’ll have four pedigree and a few non-pedigree (entire) shearling rams available.
There are many reasons to choose Hebridean hogget (18 month old lamb) or mutton (sheep over 2 years old): the breed itself is leaner, healthier, and more flavorful than many breeds, and as it’s not mass-marketed, provenance is easy to establish.
At the Hirsel, our animals have plenty of ranging area, grazing on grass and other pesticide/herbicide free greenery during the majority of their lives, with their diet supplemented by grains and home-grown fodder in the winter. We use only vet-recommended medicines on them, and give them regular check-ups for foot and other health factors. And the close relationship we have with all our animals means you can be sure that when it’s time for them to go to the butcher, it will be handled as humanely as possible. The Hebridean Sheep Society has more to say about why you should choose Hebridean over other breeds of sheep for your table.
We have sold out our 2017 farm-direct selection of Hebridean Hogget, though you may still find some of our product at Macbeth’s butchers in Forres. Check back with us in late summer next year, when we will be taking orders for next year’s batch.
With its high lanolin content and thick fibres, Hebridean fleece is known for for its weather resistant qualities, and is becoming highly prized by hand crafters too. While the breed is normally known for coming in shades of black and grey, The Hirsel’s flock has several latte-coloured ewes, as well as a few sheep that run towards red tints. We even have a ewe that gives us white lambs!
We now have washed and skirted 2016 fleeces available for sale at £8/fleece, pick up only; and 2017 unwashed, skirted fleeces available for sale at £10/fleece, pick up only.
Up until now, The Hirsel has only grown fodder crops for our own animals. However, this year (2017), we’re experimenting with a variety of vegetable crops to see how they respond to our particular soil and farming style. And by next spring, we’ll have a poly tunnel in operation, for the more delicate vegetables. If all goes well, we’ll be offering our produce for sale at local farm shops, as well as selling direct from The Hirsel.