Working Sheep Farm
Keelham Hall Farm is a working farm with over 200 sheep. We breed Texel Cross as they are a hardy sheep and can deal with the harsh climate we get here on top of the hill. We are 1148ft above sea level and possibly the highest shop 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 are a hardy sheep which are robust and can withstand the cold temperatures. Being so high up, it's not uncommon for us to have alot 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 the car park and roads around us clear too.
We may get the bad weather in Winter but we get the best views on a clear 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 that they are all ok is if they are standing. The sheep mainly feed on the grass, but we do like to give the sheep some pellets in their troughs. We like to hand feed a few sheep to keep them friendly so that we can better handle them. You never 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 is cut in the Summer. They also get a few more sheep pellets, a full belly keeps them nice and warm. 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 chest 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 the sheep up with a number, so we know how many lambs they are carrying.
Our lambing season is in Springtime, usually falls around Easter and it's days 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 mark the sheep and lambs with a matching number, just incase a little one gets lost. This way, we know who the mum is and can reunite them.
Sometimes a ewe will have more than two lambs, they struggle with the third lamb and can't always look after them. They can only feed two lambs at a time. So a foster mum is found, usually a ewe which has only had one lamb. This way all the lambs are happy and healthy.
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 musn't be wet or it spoils quickly. Sometimes it's all hands on deck before the weather changes. We can be mowing all day and night to get it all done. Farming isn't easy!
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 feed bucket and they come running.
Sometimes we'll have a few extra lambs who 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 the team can help feed them (a perk of the job) and also, it's a great opportunity for you our customers to learn more about 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 from the shop, to make sure we have lush and tasty green grass for the sheep.
The sheep need their fleeces cutting and we get in a professional sheep shearer to give them a trim. It's a big job to do, so we have a few people to help and even some of the team's children come in to give us a hand.
Lee and his boys Alfie and Oliver were on hand to help get the sheep ready for the shearer. You did a great job boys!
Protecting our land for future generations
We care about the land and the future generations to come. This is why we use renewable forms of energy where possible to minimise the impact on the environment. We have our own wind turbines on the farm, and scheme in place to bale cardboard and plastic for recycling. We are constantly reviewing our packaging and it's one of the main reasons why we offer loose fruit and veg, and the option to buy exactly what you need at the Butchery and Deli counters.
There's always room for improvement, so we are always trying to better ourselves and work closely with various groups locally who help us make better choices.
We hope that the farm and farm shop can be here for many more generations.