Lucy, qualified with distinction from the University of Liverpool Veterinary School after completing her Degree in Veterinary Science, with Livestock Health and Welfare Elective in 2014. Since then she has worked in a busy mixed animal practice, with a strong farm animal slant in rural South Yorkshire before moving up to Scotland in 2015, to start a position as a large animal vet.
She has always had a keen interest in farming, working on friends farms and a variety of other livestock enterprises within and above the requirements of her degree (18 weeks of hands on husbandry experience is required as part of the Liverpool degree). The degree she undertook had a strong farm bias compared to other veterinary degrees, with over a third of the teaching being on the subject and a very large proportion based upon husbandry, nutrition and welfare.
All this makes for a pretty handy sheep farmer!
Nick spent 10 years in the Royal Navy, travelling globally and gaining a wealth of life experience, after this he then worked in the super yacht industry for a year providing first class hospitality to very discerning clients.
Throughout this time, during leave periods in the RN and in the off-season on Yachts he spent much of his time pursing country sports, rugby and surfing and split his time between Somerset and rural Kent.
After a severe injury on the rugby pitch (1 min in to the game), it was time to re-think career options, when Lucy bought three pet/orphan Lleyn lambs for his 30th Birthday an idea sparked.
Our story so far...
With three lambs and two rented acres of grass (primarily for the horses) we began to think bigger.
Lucy began looking in to New Entrants and Young Farmers Grants from the Scottish Government.
We sat down and thought about what we would like to do, how we would like to do it and why we wanted to do it. Our final business plan was based on a high-welfare, low environmental impact, great tasting end product all whilst keeping cost to an absolute minimum. Along with these ideas and with all the numbers, figures and extra hoops we needed to jump though the plan was submitted to the Government in June 2016.
With this in mind and still wanting to start a flock, we looked at what we had and what we could afford, we got another 10 pet/orphan lambs on top of the three we already had, the flock was up to 13!
Only having 13 sheep all of which were lambs meant we weren't going to expand anytime soon, with that in mind we contacted a few friends in the Lleyn Society one of which being the farm the pet/orphan lambs came from and then another farm, near to us, they were all registered, pedigree, and MV-free Lleyn's, just what we were looking for...we now had 60 sheep.
The first year we sponged the sheep to make our lives easier, as we both still worked full time it made sense so we could get our annual leave to coincide with our lambing period.
Putting the sponges in with no real handling equipment involved many sheep gates, Nick having to physically catch and hold every ewe whilst Lucy inserted the sponge - times 90. Safe to say when we eventually finished at midnight we slept well.
In April 2017 we got the Grant - Thats great right, a big-fat pot of money and off we go, we are sorted and we are farming! Incorrect, farming is really expensive! From buying sheep, to the equipment that's needed to handle them effectively, to the small matter of having somewhere to house them for lambing and of course somewhere they can graze throughout the year. We decided that time was going to be the most important factor, especially as all of our work was done in the evenings and weekends, so we bought a Combi-Clamp handling system from Ritchie (pictured below centre), an Ifor Williams stock trailer and a sheepdog called Chief (pictured below, left), three things that would save us incredible amounts of time.
Our first lambing was in 2018, in an old dairy shed, which was rented from one of Lucy's clients (Pictured below right), it was small, but perfect for 90 ewes. I say 90 and not 60 because just before we housed all the ewes we bought 30 in-lamb ewes with triplets from North Wales.
When we house the ewes we scan them to see who is in lamb and who is not, the empty (not-in-lamb) ewes will go back out to the field and the in-lamb ewes get shorn and split in to single, twins and triplets.
90 sheep went in and 283 came out, of those 71 were ewe-lambs which we kept for breeding stock, again to up our numbers.
Always thinking numbers, increasing flock size and doing so quickly, at the same time we took 43 pet/orphan lambs from the same farm that started it all, we raised these initially by bottle feeding, then when able they went on to a Heatwave milk warmer which is filled in the morning and the wee lambs have constant access to warm milk at all times.
In the middle of lambing last year we also took on five Jersey Bull claves, these have been a great addition to the farm and we are looking forward to taking on more cattle and livestock in the near future.
Our flock now numbers 250 including lambs, meaning this year we are lambing 180.
Over the past year we have sent lamb-boxes to customers all over the UK, we have sold produce to Farm Shops and restaurants building up repeat custom, bought a plot of land and even sent a sheepskin to Canada.
See what we get up to on a daily basis on our Instagram and Facebook.