Last week, we asked you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. Not only would we publish the best question with an answer on our website, but the winner would win a family day pass for February. February’s question came from Anna Mary Overall:
While originally all rams had horns, sheep can have horns or not, depending upon their breed, sex, and genetics.
Sex and breed
In some sheep breeds, both sexes are horned. In other breeds, only the rams have horns. Some sheep breeds have both a horned and polled (non-horned) strain.
The male sex hormone also plays an important role in horn development, as rams usually have larger, more striking horns than ewes, especially in breeds in which only the male is horned. When neither sex is horned, the breed is said to be polled or naturally hornless. Partial or undeveloped horns are called scurs.
There are three genes that determine if a sheep has horns or not, and these get passed down from parent to offspring. A dominant gene will express itself over a recessive gene. This means that the trait represented by the dominant gene will always be expressed if it is present.
- One gene (P) is dominant for the polled condition. Polled is another way of saying a sheep does not have horns, or non-polled mean they do have horns.
- One gene (p) is sex-linked for non-polled. So in this breed, rams have horns because they are male and the ewes will not have horns because they’re female.
- The third gene (p’) produces horns in both ewes and rams.
There is a 25 percent chance you’ll get horned offspring from two polled parents, if each parent has one dominant and one recessive gene for horns (Pp). A recessive trait will only be expressed if both parents pass on the recessive gene to their offspring. The offspring will now carry two recessive genes (pp).
Rare genetics allow some sheep to have multiple horns. The breed best known for having four horns is the Jacob, which we have at Sacrewell. Next time you’re visiting, count how many horns they have!
Unfortunately today, we are the bearers of very sad news. Apple, the eleven year old Suffolk Punch horse on loan to us from Gateridge Suffolks, was suddenly taken ill and passed away on Tuesday.
Apple, or Gateridge Appleblossom, was the very first Suffolk Punch foal that had been bred by owners Mr and Mrs Thompson, of Gateridge Farm, Northamptonshire. Her legacy lives on as she was mother to one breeding mare and two geldings who are being harness trained.
Suffolk Punch horses were bred in the East of England as working horses. They worked the land for years but went out of favour when tractors replaced most of the manual and horse-powered labour. Their numbers declined so rapidly after the Second World War that in 1966, only nine foals were registered in the UK. They’re currently classed as ‘critical’ by the Rare Breed Survival Trust, meaning there are fewer than 300 horses left and numbers are declining.
Sacrewell Farm would like to thank Mr and Mrs Thompson for the loan of Apple, she was a firm favourite with visitors and staff alike and she will be sorely missed.
Many of you will have the seen the three Boer goats that arrived at Sacrewell last summer. With their brown lop ears and their friendly nature they quickly became firm favourites with our visitors, but it’s taken till now for us to formally introduce them using their names; Almond, Ash and Acer.
Can you see the number on Almond’s ear tag? Can you see the same number on Almond’s certificate?
The goats are pedigree British Boer goats, which means that their names are registered with the British Boer Goat Society and cannot be the same as any other British Boer goat. As you can see on their registration certificates in the photograph above, each goat actually has two names. Almond is actually called Janus Almond. The first part is like a human surname; it tells us where they were bred and is the same for all the goats that come from that breeder. The second part is unique to that particular goat and, at Sacrewell, will start with a different letter each year and fit into the theme of trees and plants. The registration certificates record all of these details, as well as the ear mark number which can be matched to the metal tags that the goats wear in their ears.
We’re pleased to announce the arrival of our latest litter of piglets, which arrived on Thursday 26th January.
British Landrace pigs are classified as “endangered” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust as there are less than 200 registered breeding females in the UK. Landrace pigs are valued for their ability to produce and rear large litters of pigs. They are often crossed with other breeds to share these breeding qualities, which is why purebreds are now so rare.
The eight piglets will stay with their mother, Kate, until they are around six weeks old.
As you can see in the photo, they are very small at the moment. Pop in to visit us soon and see how much they have grown.
Two Soay sheep have been stolen from Sacrewell.
The sheep, one of which was hand-raised, were taken overnight between 6pm on Monday, 5 December and 7am on Tuesday, 6 December.
The farm is an agricultural education charity founded in 1964 to teach people about food and farming, but the Soay sheep on site were kept as pets.
Engagement Manager, Jack Pishhorn said: “Staff here are absolutely gutted.
“Solar and Luna were this year’s lambs and Luna was rejected by her mother so was hand-reared by one of our rangers.”
Jack added: “Most of this year’s lambs have gone to market already and the only ones left are pets, which we keep here for agricultural education purposes.
“We’ve stepped up our overnight security and increased the presence of our staff on site to deter any further attempts.”
Anyone with information can contact Sacrewell on 01780 782254.
Sacrewell relaunched its new shop in style with a taster event sampling new products for Christmas.
The William Scott Abbott Trust which owns Sacrewell has invested £35,000 in a new shop and additional stock for the Christmas season.
Among the new products are alpaca socks, flour milled in Bedford, Christmas hampers and locally distilled gin and vodka from Two Birds Spirits.
The team were also giving out taster samples of foods that they stock, including wild boar pate, Corkers crisps and Grasmere gruntas and crackling.
General Manager Debbie Queen said: “We’re delighted with the new shop and wanted to launch our Christmas products in style with samples and tasters.
“Two Birds Spirits were here sampling their gins and Christmas vodkas which will be available in the shop throughout the festive season and they proved to be very popular.”
Regular visitors to the centre will notice even more products making their way onto the shelves at the visitor centre in the run up to Christmas and Sacrewell will be working with local suppliers to create the ideal Christmas shopping experience.
“We’re taking pre-orders for turkeys which will be supplied through Grasmere Farm and visitors can come and pick them up a day or two before Christmas.
“As an agricultural education charity, we think it’s important that people know where their food comes from so by using local suppliers we can tell customers the story behind the products they’re buying.”
Sacrewell is open every day from 10am – 4pm (2pm on Christmas Eve) and there is no admission charge for the shop of café.
We’ve given you lots of updates on our bees throughout the summer, so we thought we’d fill you in on how our hived bees are kept throughout the Autumn.
In short, we’re fattening them up for the winter.
As our colony at Sacrewell was only introduced to the farm this year, it’s still quite small so doesn’t have enough reserves of its own to survive the colder weather.
So to ensure they have enough stores to last them through the Autumn and Winter, our beekeeper, Kelvin Cherry, has been feeding them a special solution of sugared water to help them through.
Learning and Interpretatuion Officer at Sacrewell, Nikki Cherry explains: “The supply of nectar for bees dries up throughout the Autumn and Winter and if the weather’s bad then they don’t fly, so we feed them to boost their stores.
“The colony will reduce to about 10,000 bees in Winter anyway. They don’t hibernate so we’ll feed them about three to four times to ensure they’ve got enough to survive.”
The colony will also be left whatever honey it made itself this summer.
Nikki added: “As it’s a small colony, we’ve not taken any honey this year as we feel it’s important they they have their own food source as well. That way they’ll be strong enough to swell their numbers next year and hopefully we’ll have plenty of honey.”
The smell of toasted marshmallows, baked bread and real ale greeted visitors to the Sacrewell Harvest Festival at the weekend, as more than 900 people dropped by to celebrate with us.
Working with food producers, countryside crafters and other charities in the area, we put on a feast for the senses to celebrate the harvest and educate people about where their food comes from.
Live music was performed by Pennyless, George Linton, The D’Ukes of Rutland and Fruitenty Band, as visitors tucked into apple juice pressed by Stamford Orchard Group and bread baked on site in our multi-award winning watermill and bakery.
Events and programming officer Jack Pishhorn said: “It’s great to see so many people helping us to celebrate harvest in this way.
“It’s such an important time of year for farming and especially here at Sacrewell. All our visitors enjoyed the attractions and we would like to thank all the staff, volunteers, artists and stall holders for all their contributions as it would not be possible to stage these types of events without their continued support.”
The toasted marshmallows were so popular they had sold out by the close of the event.
As part of the William Scott Abbott Trust, we’re committed to providing an agricultural education for all and we’ve worked with societies such as The Peterborough Beekeepers and Nene Woodland and Coppicing to provide a broad range of activities.
All activities and stalls were popular, from the Grainstore Brewery in Oakham which was serving real ale, Paisley Flower Co doing floristry demonstrations, bread making and tours with the Sacrewell team and farm machinery.
We’re open all year and our multi-award winning mill is interpreted to help visitors to understand the daily grind of the millers and apprentices who kept the wheels turning, so for those who could not make it to the Harvest Festival, take time to visit this autumn.
Kite making, bird watching and camp fires are part of the daily activities at Sacrewell this autumn.
From 5 September – 30 October (including October half-term), make the most of the British countryside with the visitor centre’s programme of events which will run every day.
With mud painting with natural paint brushes, leaf decorated candle jars and making bird feeders also on the agenda, visitors will leave full of inspiration and ideas to make the most of the autumn.
Events officer Jack Pishhorn said: “We want children to gets hands on with nature this autumn, teaching them to use natural resources to create fun and engaging activities.
“It’s a great time of year to be outside learning about wildlife and the opportunities the British countryside offers.”
Sacrewell classics such as den building, animal handling and mill tours will also be included in the programme, which has been specifically designed to appeal to different age groups. Pre-school activities will be run throughout the week with activities for older children at weekends.
“We know that different people visit us at different times of the week, so we wanted to provide activities that would appeal to them, as well as our regular weekend visitors,” Jack added.
Surcharges apply to some activities.
Father Christmas is returning to his rightful place at Sacrewell this year-the Mill House. Having moved to the old farmhouse for a couple of years while work was being done to the 18th century grade II* listed building, the team says Father Christmas is looking forward to being back in his regular spot from 3 December-and this year the centre is offering Toddler Experiences too.
Engagement manager Jack Pishhorn said: “Our visitors have come to know and love seeing Father Christmas in the mill and he certainly enjoys being in there too. The event will be open for bookings only so that people are ensured a time slot and can plan their day out to Sacrewell.”
Tickets are available for the 3, 4, 10 and 11 December, and every day from 17 December until Christmas Eve, priced £11 per child (£6 for members and under twos) and £7 per adult (free for members). Entry includes a visit to Father Christmas and his reindeer (reindeer at weekends only) as well as admission to Sacrewell for the day. There will be plenty of other Christmas activities taking place across the site, such as wooden reindeer making, marshmallow toasting and the Christmas craft room where you can make gifts and cards. Surcharges may apply.
On December 3 Father Christmas will be welcomed to Sacrewell by the team and visitors via our special sleigh tractor at 10am outside of the visitor centre. Please come and welcome him, Mother Christmas and his reindeer to the farm!
Tickets for the Toddler Experience are priced £8 per child (£5 for members and under twos), £7 per adult (members free) and are available on 8, 9, 15 and 16 December with activities aimed at children pre-school age or younger and includes a free tractor sleigh ride.
Almost everything at Sacrewell is outside; you’ll want to come dressed for the weather!
When booking your tickets to see Father Christmas please give enough time before your timeslot to arrive at Sacrewell and find the watermill where Father Christmas will be waiting for you, we suggest arriving at least one hour before. Please be aware that there will be multiple children booked within each 30 minute slot – the timings simply allow us to manage the queue for you. Within the queue you will have the chance to meet the elves and Mother Christmas, as well as have a go at some great Christmas crafts whilst you wait.
If you are having any problems with your booking or need any more information please give us a call on 01780 782254.
Summertime is always special at Sacrewell and the team has kick-started the season in style this week as it celebrated two occasions.
To mark the anniversary of the reopening of the watermill a year ago, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, they have been reflecting upon its first year and the reaction from visitors.
Mill project officer Jane Harrison said: “It has been wonderful. We’re still getting people coming to see it who haven’t been since it reopened and the feedback we’ve had is continuously good.
“The year has flown by and it was lovely to look back on it to see how much we have achieved.”
The £1.8m Mill Project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the William Scott Abbott Trust which owns the site.
Jane added: “We’ve had a list of targets to complete, from innovative school visits to an oral history project and the stories that have come out of it have been fascinating. Having the community come together and embrace this project has been a highlight for all of us.”
Since last July, the mill has had a royal visit from HRH The Duke of Gloucester who officially opened the building in October, hosted a successful Harvest Festival, featured on BBC Two’s Victorian Bakers and welcomed more than 100,000 visitors.
In the autumn the team will attend the national Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) awards in London as the mill is nominated for Building Conservation and Leisure and Tourism awards, having won the regional heat in May.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support this excellent project, thanks to National Lottery players. Sacrewell Mill is a wonderful heritage site which offers a great opportunity for people to explore how people worked from the Victorian period to the end of the Second World War, and we wish the team the best of luck in the upcoming RICS awards.”
This week Sacrewell has also announced the birth of seven rare-breed British Lop piglets to first time mum, Maggie. Maggie is on loan to the centre from the Goosetree Herd in Coates, Cambridgeshire, and is settling in well to her new role.
The piglets are currently in the cattle yard and will be put out in the renovated pig paddocks later this summer.
The party is just getting started as Sacrewell announced its new range of packages this week.
Having spent months researching and putting together the new daytime and evening exclusive parties with its onsite caterer, Origin8, the team is certain that they’ve created the perfect farm-themed parties for children under the age of 16.
Business Support Manager, Anna Mackman said: “We’ve created a bespoke Playbarn Party Paddock complete with picket fencing and wooden benches to accommodate our party-goers.
“Our parties have always been popular but we think the new options have raised the bar and our members and regulars will be really pleased with the results.”
From just £13.50 per child you can hire the Playbarn Party Paddock for two hours and enjoy a scrumptious menu of sandwiches, crisps, jelly, mini muffins and squash.
Included in the price is admission to Sacrewell all day, a present for the birthday child, free admission for two adults for the birthday child and one for each party guest, a free return visit voucher for each child and downloadable invitations.
Plus you can upgrade your package with additional food, take home a farm-themed party bag filled with brilliant stickers, toys and stationery or sweets, or go the whole hog and have a farm-themed table set up in advance.
Adults are well catered for too as Origin8@Sacrewell have put together a party platter with sandwiches, sausage rolls, crisps, quiche and cake for £6 per person.
Anna added: “We’ve had great fun putting the party bags together, researching the best quality products that are still in keeping with our Playbarn on the farm.”
From 6pm – 7.30pm in high season (ends on 2 Nov, 2016) or 5pm – 6.30pm in low season (3 Nov, 2016 – 19 Feb, 2017), you can have exclusive hire of the Playbarn at Sacrewell from £185.
In addition to the above, the Playbarn kiosk will be open so that you can buy additional drinks and snacks.
Goats have inspired storytellers and bards for years, from the folk tale of the Billy Goats Gruff through to Walt Disney.
Now Sacrewell is offering you the opportunity to use your imagination and name its three female Boer goats which arrived at the farm this week.
We’re hosting the annual Cambs Goatkeepers Male and Youngstock Show on 6 August and visitors between now and then will have the opportunity to put their chosen names in the virtual hat via our social media sites.
So, before you trot off and start racking your brains for names, here’s a bit of information about the goats that might spur you on.
The Boer breed was developed in South Africa and its name comes from the Afrikaans word “boer” meaning farmer.
The term “buck” or “billy” refers to male animals and females are called “does” or “nanny goats”.
Goats originally come from Asia and Eastern Europe where they were domesticated for milk and meat. Goats milk and cheese is now produced worldwide but goat meat is yet to make the everyday menu in many Western countries, unless it’s used in traditional dishes.
So, now you have the facts, head over to our Facebook page to bleat about it.
There’s been a bit of a buzz about Sacrewell lately, and this time we suspect it’s from the Beedrills.
Pokemon Go, the new mobile game app which launched in the UK today (14 July) has made our Shepherd’s Hut into a Pokestop.
That means players of the game can stop by and stock up on Pokeballs and other bits they might need.
As we know trainers who stop here might not want to pay full admission and will just stop and go, we’re offering entry to the Pokestop in exchange for a small donation to the William Scott Abbott Trust which runs Sacrewell.
Please let our staff know you’re going to the Pokestop and they’ll point you in the right direction as it’s right outside the entrance to the visitor centre.
If you need an excuse to visit Sacrewell this summer then we think we might just have the ticket.
Jasmine, Honey and Peaches, our alpacas, are the newest additions to the farm and activity centre.
The trio are on loan from Woodbine Farms, which Sacrewell already has a successful working relationship with as they own a herd of reindeer which are hired out for Christmas.
Site Operations Manager Richard Hadfield said: “We’ve wanted to introduce alpacas to the farm for a while and having met and worked with Woodbine, they offered us the opportunity to work alongside them by housing a few of their animals.
“They’re already a popular attraction and we’re looking forward to teaching our visitors about them.”
The alpacas are currently in the paddock behind the bottom field of the campsite, so pack your bags and make a holiday of your visit to Sacrewell.
We’re very excited to announce that next week our gift shop at Sacrewell will be having a facelift.
After months of research and planning the team at Sacrewell are looking forward to the arrival of new units, a new counter and branded point of sale areas.
It will mean that there is slight disruption to the gift shop for short periods of time over the week but we’ll try to keep service to the high standard that our visitors are used to.
We’d also appreciate your feedback on the new shop and ongoing upgrades to the site we’ve been working on recently by completing our visitor survey.
Here’s a photo of the old one for comparison.
This year Sacrewell is proud to sponsor the British Pig Association Junior Championships.
As a result, you’ll see our pig boards and banners popping up around the country at shows and events.
Here are the competitors at the Staffordshire County Show 2016.
We’re very lucky at Sacrewell to have a team of staff and volunteers with many talents, including beekeeping.
Our Learning and Interpretation Officer Nikki Cherry and her husband Kelvin first attended a beekeeping course at Sacrewell several years ago and it’s something she has been keen to reintroduce as a learning resource.
Earlier this year, Nikki and Kelv set up a hive behind the farm house and have been waiting for a swarm of bees to hive.
Bees tend to swarm when the weather is warm and dry and last weekend was perfect conditions.
Nikki said: “The old queen bee swarms with half the worker bees, leaving the new queen in the hive. Swarming is nature’s way of reproduction – if you think of the colony as the organism rather than individual bees, it divides by swarming.”
One of the hives in Nikki’s garden swarmed at the weekend and the bees settled in a tree. The swarm was knocked off the branch and into a box, which was quickly turned upside down leaving a slight gap so the bees can come and go. They waited for all the bees to settle into it before carefully transporting them to Sacrewell.
Once at the farm, the bees were tipped onto a ramp leading up to the hive, where the bees waft the smell of the queen with their wings to encourage all the bees to settle inside. Once in, the bees start to draw (build) the comb so that the queen can lay eggs.
Nikki added: “Sacrewell is part of the William Scott Abbott Trust, a charity founded to teach people about food and farming.
“Bees and beekeeping are an essential component of food production as bees are critical to the pollination of many crops and fruit; and also produce honey. Much of British farming’s food production relies on bees as a key component of the food chain.”
The hive at Sacrewell will be interpreted but as bees sting, we ask that our visitors respect their space and don’t disturb them.
There’s nothing better than waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread in the morning, and that’s exactly what we’re now offering to our campers.
Sarewell is delighted to have teamed up with Hambleton Bakery in Exton, Rutland, which was awarded the honour of Britain’s Best Bakery in 2012.
Every weekend we’ll be stocking up on bread rolls, treacle tarts, cheese straws and other varied treats to give you a real taste of what local businesses can provide.
As midsummer approaches we’re getting nostalgic at Sacrewell and would like our visitors to share their memories with us.
We’re not just talking way back when, we’re happy to chat to anyone who would like to share their memories of the farm and visitor centre, right up until the mill project started a couple of years ago.
Make an appointment to speak to Nikki Cherry and Jane Harrison at the mill on 21 and 22 June as part of our Memories of Sacrewell project and preserve your memoirs for generations to come.
Nikki, Sacrewell’s Learning and Interpretation Officer said: “Part of the project was not only looking at the mill’s 2,000 year history, but at recent history as well.
“We know a lot of our visitors have great memories of Sacrewell and we want them to share them with us so that we can continue to record Sacrewell’s history for future generations.”
Refreshments will be provided so that you can enjoy a chat and a cuppa.
To book an appointment, call 01780 781377 or 01780 781376.
Sacrewell is open from 9.30am to 5pm and under twos can visit for free. Please see www.sacrewell.org.uk for details.
A survey has been carried out on the farm to assess changes in wildlife in the area over the last forty years.
As the BBC’s annual Springwatch gets off the ground, the team from Sacrewell and Riverford, the organic farmers, are celebrating an increase in the number of plants, birds and butterflies found on the 550-acre farm, including a couple of new additions.
The findings come after a new wildlife survey, commissioned by farm owners The William Scott Abbott Trust, was carried out and analysis done to compare the results to previous surveys in 1974, 1984, and 1994. Despite variations in methodology, the results are encouraging and demonstrate that the ecological wellbeing of the land has been maintained and improved.
Among the findings in the butterfly survey was the Brown Argus, which has never been spotted at Sacrewell before and the Small Heath, which has priority conservation status as its numbers have declined severely in the long-term.
The bird survey revealed species like Lapwing and Skylark are flourishing at Sacrewell despite declining levels nationally. Reed buntings and Yellowhammers that are also on the RSPB conservation concern list have been spotted at Sacrewell for the first time.
A survey of plant life on the farm showed that Sacrewell supports a rich variety of species that has increased and become more widespread across the farm. There has been a big increase in locally significant species as well as plants like Night-flowering Catchfly (silene noctiflora) and Wild Pansy (viola tricolor) that have suffered widespread decline elsewhere in the UK.
The Trust is an agricultural education charity founded in 1964. It started working with Riverford almost a decade ago, when they took over the tenancy of the farm land.
Chairman Paul Hutton OBE says the latest set of results has given a new insight into life on the farm. “The fact we can see a wider spread of flowers and plants, which are encouraging new species of butterfly and supporting farmland birds is a credit to the hard work and dedication of the Trust and Riverford,” he added.
“As a charity, it enables us to educate visitors to the farm and activity centre at Sacrewell on the importance of wildlife on a farm.”
James Negus who helps to run Riverford’s organic farm at Sacrewell is delighted with the results, he said: “We took over farming the land here in 2007 with our first crops two years later. As organic farmers we work with nature to develop healthy, fertile soil avoiding the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides that can be harmful to wildlife.
“Our customers seem to enjoy the results and we now deliver more than 7,000 veg boxes a week in the area. We’ll continue to enhance the land for wildlife with more hedgerows, provide wet grassland areas for birds, and maintain a range for habitats for mammals and insects.”
Farm walks are being held at 5pm on the last Wednesday of each month May-September so people can see the wildlife first hand. To book your place visit www.riverford.co.uk/pet/walks-sacrewell
Credit: Peter Eeles (UK Butterflies)
If you’ve been down to the stables lately, you’ll have noticed a few changes and new faces.
We’re delighted to introduce you to Gateridge Appleblossom, our new Suffolk Punch horse which is on loan to us from Gateridge Suffolks in Northamptonshire.
As regulars to Sacrewell know, we’re passionate about working with farmers to preserve rare breeds, especially those from the region.
Suffolk Punch horses were bred in the East of England as working horses-they worked the land for years but went out of favour when tractors took over manual and horse-powered labour. Their numbers declined so rapidly after the Second World War that in 1966, only nine foals were registered in the UK.
They’re currently classed as ‘critical’ by the Rare Breed Survival Trust, meaning there are fewer than 300 horses left and numbers are declining.
We’ll be working with Gateridge and the Suffolk Punch Trust to educate visitors about the breed and show exactly what they can do.
The Sacrewell trophy cabinet is filling up after another award win at the Mercury Business Awards.
Business Support Manager Anna Mackman and Business Support Assistant Molly Thompson were at Greetham Valley Golf and Conference Centre to pick up the Green Achievement Award on 20 May.
The award was given after months of hard work by the team to align Sacrewell with its green reputation. The project included changing refuse collectors, using recycled products on the farm and in the shop, and looking at office equipment that was more eco-friendly.
Anna said: “We’re really proud. The project started as a cost-cutting exercise but once we started looking into ways to make the business more sustainable, it became obvious that there was so much more we could be doing.
“We’d like to thank Viridor in Peterborough for their support in helping us to recycyle almost 100 per cent of our waste, VegWare for sourcing compostable pots and dinnerware and our other green suppliers who are all doing their bit to help the environment.”
Earlier in May, Sacrewell Mill picked up Project of the Year at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors East of England Awards after taking the trophies in Tourism and Leisyre and Building and Conservation. It’ll now compete at national level in the same categories.