There are several sheep farmers in the Sid Valley – all on a small scale and all using the fields for grazing.
One particular farmer is taking on the role with passion – as this piece from last March in the Herald reported:
Partridge Hill farmer wants his animals to thrive not just survive
Ben Upchurch is the farmer at Partridge Hill Farm and is preparing for the lambing season.
With the help of his one-year-old dog Brock, Ben takes care of the animals and gives them a more humane life.
He takes decisions that will benefit the animals rather than his business such as not using breeds of lambs that have a quick turnover rate but instead ones that are healthier.
He said: “I’d rather have a stronger healthier sheep than a bigger, not so healthy sheep. That’s my ethos. It’s about having animals that thrive rather survive.”
This is from his website:
Rare Breed Pork and Lamb Meat Boxes
Partridge Hill Farm is home to Welsh Mountain Badger Face sheep, Beulah Hill Sheep and Berkshire Pigs.
These breeds have been selected for their flavour and tested for their suitability to the valley side site of the farm. These breeds may not be as fast-growing, and therefore as profitable, as modern commercial varieties, but their winning characteristic is their Wow-factor rich flavour, which means that customers always come back for more once they’ve tried their first mouthful. A slow grown free-ranging animal or bird fed on its natural diet will always beat a supermarket or butcher bought product in a taste test.
The hardy nature of all the animals at Partridge Hill Farm means that they can live and eat outdoors all year round in their natural environment. Their resistance to pests and diseases is much greater than those of intensively reared animals so I use far fewer medicines.
The Lamb, Hogget, and Mutton are sold according to their season in a variety of quantities all butchered and packaged as required by each customer. The larger the quantity order the greater the discount.
And here’s his Facebook page, with some interesting postings, including:
Andy Bragg’s response to a recent BBC programme about meat that I’ve just managed to catch up about. I admire what is done at West Town Farm west of Exeter and aim to replicate it on a smaller scale for around Sidmouth.
(and I recommend Fresh n Green just outside Newton Poppleford for a local veg supplier).
For more on the importance of sheep farming to the Sid Valley, one need go no further than Sidfbury Fair: