Blackfaces for Halloween

We enjoyed a blustery few days in Mull this October school holidays, a final chance to savour the Autumn light before the changing of the clocks. And…we brought home some new additions for the farm; a small herd of Isle of Mull blackface sheep, which we hope will do well in the slightly more temperate climate of the East Coast of Scotland. We bought the sheep from an estate in the North of Mull who we had made contact with before our holiday. To complete our rigorous selection process,  we made use of our most highly trained sheep expert to select the best of the flock. The forty best specimens were penned and kept for one final night in their Isle of Mull home.

The following day, packed and ready for home, we met our selected sheep at Craignure and did a trailer to trailer transfer in the ferry queue, this was to the absolute delight of the kids and to the amusement of one or two bystanders.

We boarded the Isle of Mull full to the brim with luggage, 3 kids, and a trailer full of sheep and bikes. The drive from Oban to St Andrews was done more slowly and carefully than was appreciated by our fellow road users.

Having hoped to introduce the sheep to the relatively warmer and drier climes of Fife, we arrived home at Lochaber farm on a damp, mizzly and dark evening. Both kids and sheep were delighted to escape from the confines of the car and trailer after a long journey. The kids delighted in carefully laying an even bed of straw for them and ensured they had some fresh haylage and water to drink. Blackface sheep are notoriously jumpy as can you can see – this was the method they sheep used to exit the trailer.

Very quickly, we had a strong suspicion that our inherited farm fences would be put through the most rigiourous of checks by these little black faces. Therefore, we decided to keep them shed bound for a few days whilst we checked for and repaired any sheep sized gaps in the fencing.

We made the most of a beautiful Autumn afternoon and early evening for this job. Whilst, this weekend, we will be plunged slightly unwillingly into the darkest part of the year, the promise of Halloween and Bonfire Night ease the transition to shorter days. We light our pumpkin as soon as it gets dark and leave it on the doorstep to enjoy the warm orange glow. I have roasted the leftover pumpkin flesh with rosemary and chorizo and crumbled over some blue cheese. I discovered recently that you can save and wash the seeds, then spread them on an oven tray, add some butter and salt, and roast, the perfect snack for an Autumn walk.

I make a lot of bread and love to experiment with new types of bread dough. Recently, I’ve been trying out a recipe for brioche doughnuts. Although my mum was a stickler for the traditional treacle scones for Halloween, since learning to make these doughnuts myself, they will definitely be the option in our house this year. There are still a few jars of my strawberry jam from this summer which will make a nice sticky filling before we dangle them over the kids’ expectant faces on Halloween night.

We hope to reach Halloween night a few doughnuts down, but most definitely not any blackface sheep down.

You can find an excerpt of our blog in The Courier this Saturday, either in print or online.


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