Saturday, 21 April 2012

Voar (Spring)

Voar (Spring)
Last week we ploughed 2 fields, one will be sown with “bere” (Shetland 6 rowed barley) and the other with  Swedish barley developed for Iceland. Unfortunately it has rained ever since preventing us from sowing the seed. Soil temperature needs to be above 6 degrees to encourage growth but we have only seen air temperatures rise perhaps to 8 degrees. Cereal crops are very uncommon now in Shetland partly due to harvesting at the back end being difficult and partly due to discouragement by the Scottish Government. However, we see maintaining some cereal and straw production as essential  for the health of the cattle in winter time. Today we noticed the first stanechakker (wheatear). These spend the winter south of the Sahara apparently and return around the 3rd week of April every year to their northern nesting sites. They are always a happy and lively bird  that nest around the fringes of the in-bye land.

The ploughed fields attracted an unusual visitor ,

Friday, 6 April 2012

Native Shetland Sheep

Our Native Shetland Sheep
Shetland sheep are famous for their wool. The farm’s organic wool is spun privately and not blended with other fibres to create a really true yarn.

 Uradale has helped make Shetland lamb quite famous for its special meat. The farm carries a flock of 700 native Shetland ewes, which graze  over large areas of heather moorland right down to the seaweed of the ebb tide. Lidgate’s Butcher of Holland Park have won 2 Gold Medals at the prestigious Smithfield Show for their preparations of Uradale lamb.

Shetland Kye

Our Shetland Cattle
Crops of grass silage and barley are grown to feed this herd of rare indigenous Shetland Cattle during the winter. These cattle complement flocks of native Shetland sheep, often eating side by side over the steep hillsides on a vast array of mountain grasses and flowering herbs.  
An Uradale cow and calf won the breed society’s Centenary show and their herd name of Ustaness is known throughout the UK.

Shetland "kye" are very special lacking most of the features desired by today’s farmers, but possessing qualities more akin to undomesticated stock. These natural attributes of healthy fats and darker meat are characteristic of a breed not too removed from its bovine ancestors.

Link to Shetland Cattle Herd Book Society: 

The Farm

Uradale Farm, Shetland

Uradale Farm is a family business and home.

 It covers over 1000 acres of Shetland, an archipelago of islands equidistant between Aberdeen, Scotland and Bergen, Norway.
To the Vikings and traders of the Nordic and Baltic countries, Shetland was at the crossroads of the North Atlantic.
The farm is managed Organically under certification by Scottish 
Organic Producers Association. A very minimum of inputs are imported with the farming philosophy being one of self-sufficiency.

Shetland is rather different in many ways. Trees are a bit of a luxury, but vast seascape views are everywhere. Winters are unpredictable as can be the summers, so Nature has to try a fair bit harder. Seasons are marked by distinct migrations of birds and fish.