Lamb-at-foot sheep's milk cheese, and chicken-club

by Little Oak Farm in Wootton Fitzpaine, England, United Kingdom

£12,316

raised of £13,000 stretch target

136

supporters
95% 51 minutes left
This project will only be funded if at least £10,000 is pledged by 8th August 2020 at 10:34am

The aim: to get a mains electricity connection for running a Lamb-at-Foot dairy and making delicious and sustainable sheeps milk cheese.

by Little Oak Farm in Wootton Fitzpaine, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

The next part of the project is building the milking parlour and kitting out the dairy. Extra funds for these would definitely be useful.  And if I am lucky enough to be given more than I need for getting the mains electricity installed, and I have enough for the building, then the next thing on my wish list is an electric bike and trailer. I really really want to be able to do my deliveries, and general running around too, without damaging the planet. My friend Pedro at Tinkers Bubble does all their apple juice deliveries by bike, and if he can then I can too! Mind you, it's a lot flatter in Somerset than it is here, but hey. I'm up for it. 


Who are we?

We are a small family farm in West Dorset. ('We' are - me, I'm Mary; my friend Dan; my son Joe and my daughter Rosie.)  

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We believe that food can be produced without damaging the planet and without treating animals badly. In fact it is essential that these criteria be met.

We are stasheeprting up a lamb-at-foot sheep's milk cheese dairy and also a chicken club. Sheep's milk cheese is a really good source of protein and a lot of people who can't take other milks can take sheep's milk. And it's also delicious! *                What is Lamb-at-foot? On most dairy farms calves, kids or lambs are taken from their mothers at a very young age in order for the humans to have their milk. We will leave the lambs with their mothers until they're 4-6 weeks old.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 1593588401_post_box_at_2_mb.jpgChickens - when you buy a free-range chicken you often don't know how free-range it really is. The members of the chicken club will agree to buy a certain number of chickens each month and they'll be able to feel reassured about how free-free range their chickens are because they can come and see them whenever they want.

Both these ventures need electricity. And that's where you come in. We need to connect to the mains and that's jolly expensive!

The electricity is for milking machines, fridges and a freezer, an incubator and heat lamps for the chicks. (I used to have cows, and milk them by hand, but with sheep you really do need the machines or you'd be there all day, and the sheep wouldn't be impressed by that!)

Our 1591562832_j_+_tractor.jpghistory:- We've been working in farming for nearly 25 years.  8 years ago we were very lucky to be able to buy this land - Little Oak Farm. We moved on 2 years ago (the kids and I into a static caravan, Dan in his wagon) and are cracking on - building the buildings, putting in water pipes, creating vegetable and fruit gardens, looking after the sheep, reducing the creeping thistle, planting lots of hedges, making some hard standing etc etc.  And trying to keep our fossil fuel usage to a minimum -  trying to do the least harm to the planet that we can.

Since making th1591102362_shed_+_dan_at_2_mb.jpge above video the buildings have really come on. They're not quite finished but we're getting there. And a couple of weeks ago we got the first polytunnel put up. Yay!1593588669_view_from_top_of_garden_at_2_mb.jpg


So, 'Why not be off-grid' you may be asking?   

Having mains electricity provided by one of the companies that sells 100% renewable electricity is the route we've chosen to go down because we think it's the greenest option.    We are currently off-grid. We've lived off-grid for years.  And in many ways its great but it has its failings:-

i)  you need the right weather - and here if the electricity went off the chicks would die and the sheep wouldn't be able to be milked which is a complete no-no. We could have a back-up generator for that situation but they run on fossil fuels. So it's possible, but not the greenest solution we feel.

ii) the batteries, which need replacing periodically, are still far from ecologically sound;

iii) the batteries are also very expensive - so much so that businesses can fold up just because they can't afford to replace the batteries;

iv) setting up an off-grid system sufficient to meet the demand of milking machines, fridges and freezers, heat lamps for the chicks etc. would actually cost more than connecting to the mains, and all the components of the system - batteries, solar panels etc. have quite a big ecological footprint;

v)  You're not truly independent because you still need the replacement batteries and components periodically.

vi) And if we put solar panels on the roof of the barn extension we can sell renewable electricity back into the system - facilitating other people having renewable energy too. 

We will still use the off-grid system that we currently have as much as possible. 

So, if you'd like to help a small farm to get off the ground and produce food in a very sustainable way then please do support us.  Have a look at the rewards on offer, get in touch if you want, look at the website www.littleoakfarmdorset.co.uk , come for a visit if you're near-by, and, last-but-not-least, please do share this with friends, family...anyone you think might be interested.1593588802_3_lambs_in_row.jpg

   Thank you for your time and for your support for our fundraiser. 

Animal welfare:- 

My belief is that if animals are being kept - ie. farmed, we need to fully recognise that they are 100% dependent on us. They can't just walk off over the hill to find what they need.  So it's up to us to provide them with all the conditions that they would choose for themselves - space; fresh water; a varied diet of forage, herbs etc.; shelter from strong sun and bad weather; care to their relationships and flock dynamics; health care without using loads of pharmaceuticals; protection from predators, and so on.                                 

Their diet:- Mainly forage. ie.grass/hay and nibbling at hedges.  When the ewes are producing milk they also need their diets supplementing with a more protein rich concentrated food and I use organic Lucerne that's been grown in this country. (https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/articles/86/lucerne-also-known-as-alfalfa)

*Sheep milk is extremely high in fat and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and has a high level of solids, as compared to other milks. This makes it very suitable for cheese-making. In particular, sheep's milk produces much more cheese than the same amount of cow's milk.

The Right To Roam made the video. Click on the link in the corner of the video and see some of their amazing and award-winning documentaries and short films. Joya and Lucy - thank you so much. xx

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Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£10 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Win a holiday!

The names of all donors will be put in a hat and the winner will receive a 4 night stay in a bell-tent. See:- Airbnb bell tent camping west dorset Each name will go in once regardless of how much you have donated. It's a tiny site with wonderful sea views. Camp fires, kids, dogs, compost loos, and no electricity but lots of stars. Look at the other rewards too! NB. This may have to defer to next year if fully booked this year or lock-down.

£10 or more

Thank you!

A big 'Thank You So Much' from me. And your name goes in the hat to win a holiday.

£20 or more

6 of 40 claimed

Lip balm and a card

A 15ml lip balm, made by me, from calendula, comfrey and woundwort steeped in organic cold pressed sunflower oil, beeswax and essential oils for flavour. And a card drawn by the lovely Ana - a wwoofer I had last year who happens to be an amazing artist. And a big Thank you from me. And your name in the hat.

£35 or more

Apple juice and a card by Ana

6 bottles of Apple Juice. It is made purely from apples, from friends' and neighbours' gardens, using a traditional cider press. NOTE - You need to collect this reward, so it only works if you live near-by, or if you know you're going to be passing in the fore-see-able future. Please don't drive miles just to come and get the juice! You can choose sharp or sweet juice when you come. And your name goes in the hat too of course.

£35 or more

1 of 20 claimed

Healing Salves and Lip balm and a card by Ana.

Those who donate £35 can receive a 30ml 'pocket-size' jar of healing salve, a 60ml jar of healing salve and a 15ml pot of lip balm. The balms and salves are made from beeswax and wonderful healing herbs (calendula, comfrey and woundwort) that have been infused in organic cold-pressed sunflower oil, and essential oils of lavender, tea-tree and thyme in the healing salve, and mint or orange and lemon in the lip balms. And your name goes in the hat

£250 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Delicious sheep's milk cheese

Delicious sheep's milk cheese will arrive for you in the post. There will be a long lead-in time for this one but good things are worth waiting for! There's still lots to do before we're ready to go into cheese production and it will also need to mature so I'm saying this will be ready by July 2022 but it may be available before then. What you will get will be 4 deliveries, over the course of a year, of 500g of semi-hard manchego type cheese.

£500 or more

2 of 3 claimed

Bell-tent Holiday in West Dorset

Stay in a bell-tent for up to 4 nights on the small campsite we run each year in August. Google 'Airbnb UK bell-tent camping in West Dorset' for further details. Fine to have campfires. Kids and well-behaved dogs are welcome. And the beach is just 2 miles away! Contact me for arranging dates and details. NB- If Covid restrictions, or being fully booked, make this impossible this year it will carry over to next year.

£75 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Hamper of goodies including shoulder of hogget

A box of produce from the farm that will include:- a 3.5kg shoulder of hogget (year old lamb)(on the bone) -enough for about 12 people; 6 bottles of juice; 2 jars of wild garlic pesto and 1 bottle of elderflower cordial. NOTE this will have to be collected from the farm, or I can deliver if you're fairly near. Contact me to arrange this. And your name goes in the hat to win a holiday.

£75 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Hamper of goodies including leg of hogget

A box of produce from the farm that will include:- 1.4kg boned and rolled leg of hogget(year old lamb), enough for about 6 people, 6 bottles of juice, 2 jars of wild garlic pesto and 1 bottle of elderflower cordial. NOTE this will have to be collected from the farm, or I can deliver it if you're fairly near. Contact me to arrange this. And your name goes in the hat.

£200 or more

4 of 4 claimed

Sheep skin

A gorgeous soft sheepskin from our own sheep. I can send photos of the ones available so you can choose or if you're nearby you can come and pick which one you want. And also your name goes in the hat to win the holiday.

Let's make 'Lamb-at-foot sheep's milk cheese, and chicken-club' happen

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