Pasture for Life

imageWe take producing pasture-fed lamb very seriously here at Black Welsh Lamb and are delighted to be one of very few pasture-fed accredited farms in Wales.

Whereas on the face of it you might expect most sheep to be pasture fed, this is far from the truth. The difficulties of raising sheep on a mixed farm mean that most lamb is fed with imported, wheat-based concentrate feeds (many of them containing GMOs), or at best is fed root crops or grain that could be used for human consumption.

Where sheep are fed grass, it is generally fertilised with artificial, nitrogen-based products that stimulate rapid growth, but which can cause problems for water courses and are made unsustainably from oil or mined minerals.

That’s why we decided to go for a totally pasture-fed regime. OK, it takes three times as long to mature our lambs, and we have to take care to nurture our series-rich pasture, but we feel better about it. No fertilisers, no sprays, no artificial feeds. Just lamb.

Oh, and it tastes better too.

PFLA Listing

Hogget – Lamb as it Used to Be?

Many people that we speak to say that they prefer a leaner meat these days. That is good news from our point of view, as our organic grass-fed Black Welsh Lamb is very low on fat compared with more mainstream commercial bEwe and Lambreeds. At the same time, our ancient, species-rich pasture offers higher-levels of minerals, vitamins and omegas than modern, fast-growing rye grasses. This makes our lamb very popular amongst chefs and people who are looking for maximum taste and texture, but also those who are more interested in a healthy diet.

At this time of year, our first lambs are ready for sale. However, these are last year’s lambs that have been slowly matured without any cereal-based feeds for almost 18 months and once lambs are more than a year old, they are known as hoggets. We think this is a nice old term and it helps to differentiate our premium product from this year’s lambs – who are still firmly with their mums. Our customers tell us that our hogget tastes like lamb used to. We can’t disagree.

You can order our Black Welsh Lamb hogget by dropping us a line at sheep@penywyrlodlamb.co.uk or by calling 01873 821387.

Or you can follow us on twitter @BlackWelshLamb.

We’d love to hear from you.

Nick and Sarah

Outstanding at Trealy Farm

Yesterday we were priviledged to be part of Outstanding in the Field’s first UK event, at Trealy Farm, Monmouth. I arrived late, but still in time for a glass of Ancre Hill sparkling 2008 Seyval Blanc – which was a really good start to the afternoon. Ruth Tudor and James Swift gave us a great farm tour, describing their commitment to producing honest, sustainably reared animals on the ancient farm overlooking theUsk Valley. The two of them have developed and put into practice so many ideas it is truly humbling.

The assembled group of guests threaded our way up the hill, through ancient pasture and picturesque woodland to our dinner site. As we came over the brow of the hill, there below us was laid out an immaculate row of tables with white tablecloths and folding wooden chairs.

We rapidly took our places at the table and took time to introduce our selves to our neighbours: a mix of mainly Monmouthshire, London and American diners, with a couple of people from South West England, but all with a common interest in locally sourced, excellent food and drink.

The menu offered a six course tour through some of the finest produce in the region (not including the appetisers that I had missed down the hill by being late!) Trealy Farm charcuterie, hot and cold smoked salmon from Black Welsh Mountain Smokery, our own Pen-y-Wyrlod organic lamb (cooked with chick peas, coriander, preserved lemons and coriander), Philp Bevan’s amazing vegetables, stunning late summer pudding, a selection of Welsh cheeses and finally coffee with Gower Cottage Brownies. Each course was accompanied by (Ancre Hill) wines and/or cider/perry from the area.

The Hardwick team, in the form of Chris and Chris, prepared, cooked and presented this amazing feast, which was served up by the very engaging OITF team. Our waitress (under states her role) had developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of Welsh produce in the forty eight hours since she arrived and everything was handled efficiently, engagingly and with a barrage of smiles.

As the sun went down, we made our way to the fires lit on the hillside and chatted with old and new friends, producers and the OITF Team. For a first time event in the UK, it was undoubtedly a success. Sure it was expensive, elitist and for the few, but it provided a perfect setting to showcase the best of Monmouthshire produce and cooking, the landscape and the people. Beyond that, the meal demonstrated how pop-up banquets on a more modest scale could be made to work on any farm, on village greens or in town centres. I hope it is the start of something truly exciting.

Outstanding in the Field

Just selecting lambs for the amazing Outstanding in the Field banquet, to be held at Trealy Farm, Monmouth, next week. OITF is a legendary American organisation that travels around the States in an iconic tour bus, holding large scale banquets outdoors on farm, to promote communal dining, links to farmers and enjoyment of local food.

OITF Tour Bus
PHOTO CREDIT: Marina Makropoulos

For the first time, OITF has arranged a European tour in 2011 and the only UK date is at our friends Ruth Tudor and James Swift’s farm nearby.

The Hardwick Restaurant is preparing the food from the finest local ingredients, including James’ excellent charcuterie.

We are proud to have been selected to provide the lamb for the main course and we are really looking forward to the event.

Next stop Denmark…………

More information (and ticket sales) can be found at: http://outstandinginthefield.com/about/history/

Recipe of the Day

For anyone like us with a massive crop of quinces this year – a recipe to go beyond membrillo and quince jelly: Qorma-e-Behi or Afghan Quince Stew.

We love Afghan recipes. Almost every one, including desserts, begins with “take one lamb”…….. This is a toned down version, stolen from the excellent Noshe Djan, by Helen Saberi and published by the excellent Prospect Books. Try it, preferably with one of our delicious organic, pedigree lambs and let us know what you think!

Serves 4.

2 large quinces

75ml vegetable oil

3 medium onions, preferably red, finely chopped

1Kg Pen-y-Wyrlod Lamb on the bone, cut into chunks

1tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 ground cardamom

110g brown sugar or molasses

salt to taste

Peel the quinces and cut into 2.5cm cubes. Heat the oil in a pan and then add the finely chopped onions. Fry over a medium/high heat until soft and golden brown. Now add the meat and fry until browning, then add the quince. Stir, then add the spices. Fry for about a minutes then add about a teacupful of water and the sugar and salt to taste. Mix and stir the ingredients and cook gently until the meat is tender and quinces are soft.

Serve with chalau (Plain white rice).

Special offer: Two free quinces with any lamb this  week!

New Star Ram Makes his Entrance

Our search for a new ram is over. Meet Allt y Brain Leroy (not our choice of name!) who arrived at the farm last weekend from a beautiful farm deep in the Breconshire Countryside.

Allt y Brain Leroy

He is in quarantine for a couple of weeks, as any new stock has to be, but he is less than pleased about being in a field on his own when there are a hundred ewes waiting not far away!

Choosing a time for lambing is always difficult for us. Our lambs are born outside and so we like to wait until the worst of the weather is over and the mornings are not quite so dark before starting. At the same time, we want lambing to be over by early to mid May to make sure that the ewes get the best of the spring grass to make milk.

Generally, we follow the old adage that “Bonfire night makes April Fools”, which means that if we put the ram in with the ewes around the 5th of November, lambing will start on April 1st. This also ties nicely in with the Easter holidays, so we can coerce the children into helping! This year, as Easter is a bit later, we are aiming for the week after bonfire night, to begin lambing around the 7th April.

Sadly for Leroy, that means another two weeks of waiting……………..