Archives for posts with tag: rare breed

This summer the National Trust is opening up some of its most special places for a one off event where people will get the chance to go camping in a place you would never normally be allowed too.

At Black Down we are joining in and on 19th July (for one night only) we are offering the chance to sleep out on the highest hill in the South Downs National Park with an incredible view across 3 counties towards the setting sun. It is going to be a really special evening.

Big camping site

We are going to be joined by local band “The Burning Glass” who will be singing songs for us as we enjoy the summer evening air.

There will also be nature walks led by our Countryside team and refreshments in the form of beefburgers from our herd of rare breed Belted Galloway Cattle and cider made in our Orchard at Swan Barn Farm.

Places are limited and as you can imagine are going fast, to book your pitch email

Big Camping 2

I think it is going to be a really wonderful evening, I cant wait.

It has been lovely hot weather lately, perfect for growing vegetables in the garden, but not so great if you are a sheep with a big thick woolly coat on.

Shearing 2014

A quick visit with from the man with the clippers provided the answer yesterday. I discoverd years ago that I am the worlds worst shearer and am therefore only too happy to ask someone to come along and weald the clippers for me, better for the sheep, and better for my back.

Shorn sheep 2014

Its no good hiding at the back sheepy, you are definitely next for the clippers!


Marley Cattle promo reduced file size

It has been a busy time lately for the Black Down herd of conservation grazing cattle. They have been moving around our sites completing our programme of summer grazing and will soon be heading out onto their winter quarters. Four of our girls have returned from the bull, fingers crossed for a full set of beefy buns in ovens. Also two of our steers have reached the age where they go for beef.

We run a breeding herd, heifers (young females) are kept for breeding so that we can build up numbers and select for good characteristics. Steers (the castrated males) are kept for 3 years and then go for beef. We sell the beef in a local box scheme, the profits of which help support the running of the property and the herd, as well as giving people a taste of some of the finest tasting, highest welfare, most sustainably produced beef you could ever wish to put on your plate.

Someone from the Black Down team visits every one of our cattle every single day of the year. Come rain, hail, snow or (occasionally) sunshine we look after them from birth till death. The work they do for us is absolutely vital for our management and stewardship of the countryside in our care. Without them the habitats and landscapes we look after around Haslemere would be very much the poorer, for both wildlife and people. Needless to say it is difficult not to get enotionally involved. Especially on the day you take an animal you have known well to the abbatoir. Yesterday was such a day, and I don’t mind saying it wasn’t easy.

Today is a new day though. I couldn’t be more proud of the animals we raise here, and know that they live just about the most contented and rich life it is possible for a cow to have. This is reflected in the beef we produce and sell.

So, on a stricly first come first served basis (limited supply available) we are currently offering for sale 5kg boxes of mixed cuts of our rare breed Belted Galloway beef which will have been traditionally butchered and hung. The boxes cost £50 and will be available for collection from Swan Barn Farm on 6th November between 4 and 7pm. We have a list of customers in the office, to get on the list you need to ring 01428 652359 and speak directly to one of the team. I have to warn you though, supermarket beef will never be good enough again.


How come there are only three cows on Marley now rather than four? Was the (possibly slightly accusatory!) question I was asked several times last week. Don’t worry, she’s not in the freezer (this time!) it was her turn to make a visit to see the bull.

With summer moving on and the cycle of the year turning round the time has come for some of our cattle to take a trip to visit Hillfield Expo, a rather fine looking gentleman beltie on another NT property not far away.


He is new to the National Trust, having only arrived a couple of months ago, we are hoping he will look after our girls for us and treat them right.

We aim to calve in the spring, its part of a natural cycle of stockmanship, taking advantage of the seasons, it means that cow and calf get a fresh flush of new nutricious growth at just the time it is most needed.

The cattle look slightly suspiciously at the trailer when time comes to be loaded up.


They know the drill though, and are pleased to see somewhere new to explore.


We always do our best to try and give them the best life possible, they are crucial tools for our management of the countryside, we couldn’t do it without them. Have a nice holiday girls, see you in a couple of months.

The sheep that graze in the Orchards here at Swan Barn Farm have been having a bit of a miserable time of it recently, the weather had been horrible for about 6 weeks, and they were starting to look like slightly soggy sponges. Getting them shorn is a priority at this time of year, as if you don’t the fleece can attract flies that will lay eggs that hatch out and cause all sorts of horrible medievel type nasty problems for the animals.

The problem is you can’t really shear them when they are wet, so I have been hoping for the weather to turn (admittedly as much for my own sanity as for the sheep!). On saturday the sheep finally dried out and the weather looked set fair, so it was time for an appointment with Rob the shearer.

Willow the collie is making a very enthusiastic looking face int he picture above, those of you who know her will know she was next to no help in rounding up the sheep…

My shearing is awfull I’m afraid, they tend to look like they have been through the mincer when I do them (and it takes ages), so a bit of help was the order of the day.

They look like completely different animals after they are done, half the size and with a bit of a dazed look.

Since they were done the sun hasn’t stopped shining here, I reckon it was just in time.

The fleeces will be going to my freind Polly, who in her spare time is a very accomplished knitter and spinner. She will be here at the Green Woodworking day this saturday demonstrating her skills, so if you are interested in that sort of thing I would recommend coming along and having a chat to her, as well as seeing all of the other countryside skills and crafts we will have on display. If the weather holds it should be a fantasctic day. Hope to see you there.

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