Keelham Hall Farm is a working farm with over 200 sheep. We breed Textel Crosss they are a hardy sheep and can deal with the harsh climate we get here on the top of the hill. We are 1148ft above sea level and possibly one of the highest shops (if not highest) situated in England. The surrounding fields around the shop is where you’ll see our animals grazing.
We farm Texel sheep for our shop, the breed Texel are a hardy sheep who are robust and can withstand the cold temperatures. Being so high up, it’s not un-common for us to have a lot of snow in Winter. Good news is we have a plough for the tractor so being stuck in the snow is never a problem, it also keeps our car park and roads around the shop clear too.
(Add in image of tractor in snow and front of shop in snow)
(Video of sheep enjoying the snow)
We may get bad weather but we also get the best views and on a good day you can see Ingleborough, the highest mountain in Yorkshire, from our car park.
A day in the life on the farm
Life on the farm is busy, early every morning we go and check on the sheep here in the fields. We do a scan around to make sure there is nothing obviously wrong with any of them and that all the fencing is intact. We’ll check that they are all standing upright, sheep are prone to accidents, so a good indicator they are ok if that they are standing. The sheep mainly feed on the grass, but we do like to give some sheep pellets int their trough We also like to hand feed a few sheep to keep them friendly so that we can better handle them. You never you know if you need to help one of them and it’s much easier if you don’t have to chase them around the field. -Trust us, we’ve learnt the hard way!
In winter when the grass is low the sheep graze on haylage which we have cut in the summer and they get more sheep pellets.
A lot of the job of being a sheep farmer is observing your flock and making sure they are well fed and healthy.
In tupping season, we’ll put our tups (boy sheep) in with the ewes. We’ll mark up the tups chests so that we can see which ewes they have mated with. The tups usually go in with the ewes in Autumn, and we scan the sheep just before Christmas to see which ewes are pregnant. We’ll mark them sheep up with a number, so we know how many they are carrying.
Our lambing season is in springtime, usually falls around Easter and it’s day and nights in the lambing shed making sure all the little ones arrive safely. You’ll notice in the fields that the sheep have numbers, we like to mark the sheep and lambs with a number. Just in case a little gets lost, we know who the mum is and can reunite them.
Sometimes a lamb will have more than two sheep, they struggle with the third and can’t always look after them, so a foster mum is found that only has only given birth to one sheep. This way all the lambs are happy and healthy.
Sometimes we’ll have a few extra lambs that we can’t find a foster mum for, these are our pet lambs, and we bring them into the Animal Croft and bottle feed them. We put them in the Animal Croft so that our team can help feed them (a perk of the job) and also, it’s a great opportunity for you our customers to learn and see our sheep.
Looking after the fields also takes a lot of time. We make sure fences are intact, walls haven’t been knocked down and need rebuilding. We also fertilise the fields with fruit and veg waste for the shop, to make sure we have lush and tasty grass for the sheep.
In summer we mow the long grass ready for haylage in Winter. It must be a lovely dry day so that the hay can be wrapped, it can not be wet. So sometimes, it’s all hands-on deck to get the crop cut before the weather changes. We can be mowing all day and night to get it all done. Farming isn’t easy!
The sheep need their fleeces cutting and we get in professional sheep searers in to give them a trim. It's a big job to do, so we have a few people to help and even some of our teams children come in to give a hand too.
* Picture of Oliver and Alfie with Dad Lee watching on.
We like to rotate the fields that the sheep are in, we’ll let a field rest from grazing to allow the grass to grow back. This way the sheep always have access to fresh green grass, it’s their favourite!
Another reason why we like to hand feed the sheep, if they are friendly, they are much easier to move around. A shake of the bucket and they come running.
(Could add in Elsie, young sheperdess and her blog)
Protecting our land for future generations
We care about the land and the future for generations to come. That is why we use renewable forms of energy available to us to minimise the impact on the enviroment. We have our own wind turbines on the farm, and a recycling scheme in place for every single item of waste from the farm. We bale cardboard and plastic for recylcing and our wasted fruit and veg goes back into the farm, meaning nothing goes into landfill. We are constantly reveiwing our packaging and it's a main reason why we offer loose fruit and veg and counters so that you can buy as much or as little as you like.
There's always room for improvement so we are constantly bettering ourselves and work closely with varous groups locally who help us make better choices.
We hope that the farm and farm shop can be here for many more Robertshaw generations.