CHRISTMAS LETTER 2003

This year has just raced by. The sun shone, and there was almost no rain. We had some wonderful help on the farm in the form of WWOOFers from Switzerland and Germany, and we even managed to visit the beach on more than one occasion, and a few stone walls were built.

The sheep noticed the warm weather, and took things easy. They would sit about in the yard nearly all day after the morning milking, in preference to grazing in the fields, and as a result produced less milk than usual.

Every drop of milk normally goes towards our Campscott Cheese, but this year there were a number of other demands for the milk, - small demands - this may be the Chinese Year of the Sheep, but here I think it will always be known as the Year of the Dog. Sadly our stalwart working collie, Josephine, died in June. While she was ill our attention to the other collies wavered - and as a result, Poppy, Jo's daughter, produced seven pups. Not to be outdone, and almost as soon as we had found homes for them, Jess surpassed all expectations, (especially her own) and gave birth to eleven pups! Sheep's milk is evidently very similar to bitch's milk, and so all were successfully reared, but Jess really did most of the work. It will be very quiet when we are down to just the two adult collies.

Besides puppies, we produced some wonderful beef from our pedigree Ruby Devons, and lamb from our Shetland sheep. The Campscott sheep's cheeses are as tasty as ever, but the goats' cheese is in short supply, as there has been little milk this year.

For next year's milking Lawrence has chosen to introduce some Llanwenog sheep into the flock. The Llanwenogs come from an area of South Wales on the other side of the Bristol Channel from us, where the land and climate are similar to ours. They used to be milked, are renowned for their fine wool, and their prolificacy. They are also classed as a rare breed. We hope that they will be hardier and better suited to our farm than the Frieslands have been.

Our beautiful organic wool has been spun into knitting wool, - a light and a dark colour from the Shetland sheep and a natural cream from the milking flock. The wool of the friesland/dorsets is being spun and woven into more blankets or throws. This year we succeeded in having a few sheepskins organically cured, and they feel wonderful.

The Ilfracombe farmers market continues to thrive, and operates twice every month. It is a jolly experience to visit, as a producer or customer, with its live music, good teas, and superb quality and variety of local produce. I still attend Barnstaple Pannier market twice a week, and as winter gallops in, my layers of clothing increase. The Combe Martin farmers market is similar to the Ilfracombe one, but only operates once monthly.

We hope that 2004 will be productive and prosperous for all.

With best wishes from all at Middle Campscott.

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For further information or mail order contact:
Karen and Lawrence Wright
Middle Campscott Farm
Lee
Ilfracombe
N. Devon
EX34 8LS
ENGLAND
Telephone: 01271 864 621
email: farm@middlecampscott.co.uk