|Number 10 and Number 18|
And this year we have...
Five and a half lambs presold ... but no lambs!
Our sheep plan goes something like this:
Buy sheep in spring. Preferably bottle fed so they are tame (saves on rugby tackles). Sheep eat grass, so saving me a major headache. Sheep get nice and big and juicy. Sheep go on a journey. Sheep go in our freezer, or people come and pick them up in boxes and give us money.
This plan avoids all the tricky bits of keeping sheep. No lambing. No overwintering. No shearing.
Almost everybody who bought half a lamb from us last year has asked for a whole one this year. Everything had fallen into place perfectly. Sheep sold before we even bought them.
But then our plan skidded to a grinding halt. For some reason, there just aren't any sheep available this year. We have looked everywhere, but everybody is asking for lambs and nobody wants to sell any. Several leads fell through and we were left with a couple of acres of rapidly growing grass and six expectant lamb customers. One small problem... no lambs!
I was even forced to consider changing the sheep plan. If it was to be this tricky to find lambs every year, maybe we should set up our own flock. But this is not the right time of year to think about that and we would not be producing lambs until next year.
Just as things were getting desperate and I was contemplating having to let down our customers virtually before our customer base was even established, not to mention what to do with the ever-growing grass, Sue made a phone call which solved everything.
Those lovely folks at the Rare Breeds Centre still had some bottle fed lambs left to sell. For most farmers, bottle feeding lambs is an expensive and time-consuming inconvenience. But it is the Rare Breeds Centre's meat and drink. This means that we don't even have to take them while they are still on the bottle. The idea of bottle feeding lambs may sound cute, but I've got enough to do without that.
And so it was that a couple of weeks ago we went to view our nine lambs.....