Back to the land for Highdowns residents

Regard service user, Ivan Keast, with Ryeland Sheep

Regard service user, Ivan Keast, with Ryeland Sheep

Residents at Highdowns, near Camborne, raised enough money by collecting discarded scrap metal collected from around the farm to buy a flock of sheep.

They intend to breed the animals on the 10-acres site and are hoping to see their first lambs born next spring.

In preparation for the arrival of the two rams and five ewes from a nearby farm, service users spent a week building fences.

Highdowns, which was last a working farm in 2005, is run by independent care provider Regard and is home to 14 residents.

“We’re thrilled to have livestock here again,” said Highdowns’ manager Jenna Betts. “It’s really starting to feel like a farm again.

“Together with our residents, we researched different breeds of sheep and visited several farms in the area and found Ryelands the most suitable.

“They are a minority breed and are small, docile and ideal for small sites as they’re easy on fences compared with many sheep breeds.”

Jenna says the Ryelands have had a major impact on the care community who live in four properties on the site.

“It has given them motivation and self-esteem. They now have responsibility for putting sheep out on certain mornings, feeding them and providing them with clean water and putting them to bed in the barn.”

Next year’s lambs will be registered as Highdowns stock with the Ryeland Flock Book Society and will be exhibited at local agricultural shows.

Highdowns already boasts 28 ducks, numerous rabbits and three peacocks and sells eggs laid by the farm’s 40 free range chickens.

“We will increase the sheep to an optimum flock of around 25 in the next three years with our own lambs and new blood lines through stock purchase,” says Highdowns’ farm officer Nick Colebourn-Morris.

“We also plan to maintain and increase our poultry flock to ensure the supply and demand chain of our eggs, and have plans for a small piggery with the heritage breed Cornish Lop.”

“We’re also looking to put up a polytunnel to produce vegetables and eventually to sell them at a farm shop.”

Ryeland sheep are among the oldest established British sheep breeds and are believed to be derived from the Spanish Merino.

Queen Elizabeth I was reputedly a fan of Ryeland wool. A pair of stockings given her as a gift pleased her so much she swore from then on she would only wear clothing woven from their fleece. 

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