The popular farm visit returned for the holidays and saw youngsters enjoy a fully interactive experience as they fed pedigree hens, collected duck and goose eggs and met chicks, ducklings, goats and, of course, the stars of the show, the loaghtan sheep and lambs.
Families who visited Ruth and Stu Meade at their smallholding over the October half term learned all about ewes and picked one out to follow.
When they returned for their spring visit, they got to find out how their ewe was getting on – with one family being lucky to time their visit with their ewe lambing.
Another highlight of the two weeks was a lamb being born during a birthday party visit – the lamb was named Sophie after the birthday girl.
Stu told Island Life the lambing season had got off to a slow start with four ewes lambing in the first five or six days. ‘Then in 36 hours we had 11!’
Since the start of lambing season Ruth and Stu have been carrying out a minimum of four-hourly checks around the clock.
They opened up the farm to visitors on Good Friday with the last session taking place on Sunday.
Stu said the sessions had been ‘fantastic’. ‘We sold them all out within 24 hours of them going on sale in February,’ he said. ‘The weather has predominantly been kind to us, apart from the storm last Tuesday!’
That saw them having to clear the barn and redo the bedding manually.
Each session lasts for two hours and are based around the needs of the animals to ensure the lambs are bottle-fed on time.
Some overran so that visitors didn’t get to miss out on the final stages of a birth already in progress.
Stu explained the aim was about getting youngsters to connect with agriculture: ‘There are big discussions about food, the environment and climate. They are all watch words and buzz words from the TV and in school.
‘It’s very important to understand there’s a wide range of different farms and farming techniques.
‘This gives them an opportunity to connect with food and the supply chain in a fun and interactive way.’
He said the visits demonstrate how farming in the island is done in a holistic way with the welfare of the animals and the environment at their heart.
‘They get to see how the animals are cared for and looked after,’ Stu said. ‘They’re not treated as a commodity, they are treated ethically and well.’
He said parents also learned a lot, with discussions around why loaghtan lamb meat is a bit more expensive to buy and types of egg production.