A Farm Trip
It's always great when we are invited to see where exactly our meat comes from, and to see the local farms that rear the animals.
Me and Craig (our skilled butchery manager) took a trip to meet Tim Pratt, Farm Manager at Wantisden Farm, and the location of the lamb that comes into our butchery, especially at Easter.
The drive to Wantisden is around 20 minutes, so the lamb we get is as local as can be. Tim met us on-site and was kind enough to take us on a tour of the farm to meet some of the ewes and rams that could potentially be heading to our butchery in the year.
I'll be honest, I am not someone who knows a great deal about the breed, but I could see that they had plenty of land to roam and were being reared on luscious greens as the picture below shows.
Tim explained that the greens on this field (with the ewes) are either taken by supermarkets or used as feed for the sheep, and it's a very nutritious food for them if they are lucky enough to have some of this first field space to roam in.
If the supermarkets do decide they want the greens, the sheep are moved to one of the many other paddocks on the farm.
I managed to get up close to some of the ewes (albeit they were a little sheepish to start with, *cue drum beat*). I did learn that they vary in their nature, and some are indeed more friendly than others... as you will see above.
Tim then took us on to see some of the rams that were being reared. He did warn us of their impressive yet slightly scary horns, and mentioned that they do indeed use them sometimes to do indeed that, Ram. Again it was staggering to see the vast space they had to live in, the field they were currently in had taller grenery that the first field, and it was tactical planting plan to have the rams in this field.
Apparently it was used year round mostly to plant crops such as potatoes, but currently kale was growing, the rams would eat the kale and fertilise the soil, the nutrients would be kept within the field and provide a sustainable plot for planting, genius!
The rams weren't as friendly, but they were beautiful and some of the horns were works of art! Tim then took us on to have a look at some of the sheep that were sent to Latitude (if you saw any pink sheep on your time at Latitude they were from Wantisden). I didn't think I would be seeing pink sheep when I had decided to embark on the trip to the farm, but lo and behold there were two sheep that still had the dye in their wool! Amazing.
Wantisden is a beautiful farm and one I would love to go back to, and I might well do that, but for a different reason. They also host 'The Whole Hog' an obstacle course race with a focus on getting dirty and having fun whilst completing a 5 mile course (or 7 if you prefer). Tim has signed up for 2019 and showed us one of the obstacles that remains on-site the whole year, the 'tunnel', you can see why the farm is perfect for this kind of event, lots of land, differing terrains, water, grass and mud! It was a great experience to see first hand the farm and it was truly reassuring to see the standard of life they get, and you can see why Tim won the 2016 Farm Manager of the year award! An award which he says has made him somewhat a celebrity in the farming industry (he now gets invited to judge other awards and to talk at events). Thanks to Tim at Wantisden Farm for giving us a tour and letting us experience the farm first hand!