Glwydwern Flock 152 - November 2011 AGM flock visit
To host one of the annual flock visits at the Society AGM weekend is a daunting task; will the weather be fine, does the farm need a tidy up, will a decent number attend & how much food needs to be laid on … let alone the sheep, are they in the right places and are they fit for inspection by the visiting connoisseurs! In other words, a huge amount of behind the scenes work goes into each visit and all we have to do it rock up and enjoy ourselves.
This year, the first visit was to Glwydwern (flock 152) home of the Morgans Family for the past couple of generations. The approach to the farm follows a long steep banked drive with spectacular views across the valleys and ending by an impressive ex Fisheries Lake by the farmhouse & buildings. Part of the farm is classified SSSI due to the existence of unusual pingo post ice age geological features, now this wetland habitat supports 200+ species of grass/flora. The remaining land is dedicated to livestock – sheep and cattle - and covers 240 acres with a further 100 acres rented.
The family run pedigree flocks of Speckled- Faced (340 ewes), Bluefaced Leicester (a hobby flock) & Llanwenogs (33 ewes). The former are the key ingredients in the production of the Welsh Mule. Additionally there are continental X cattle on the farm.
Elfyn has a good name for himself in the Speckled-faced circles (& Llanwenog, too!) with a string of show successes and selling rams for up to £2k at official sales. All the ewes on the farm are registered under a subsidy scheme which involves a fair bit of admin burden. Many of the home-bred and bought in lambs are sent on Tack to Pembrokeshire for the winter to give his pasture a rest. Others are crossed with terminal sires (Texel & Suffolk) for X bred fat lamb production.
Elfyn started with Llanwenogs when he was 10 – given an old broken mouth ewe by his neighbour, a certain Mr. Evans and has bred & shown the breed ever since. On display were some wonderful old photos covering his teenage years and special college project on the breed. Notably Elfyn identified the Llanwenog as ‘The seven stars ewe’ … many of the virtues highlighted by him in 1988/9 remain true today.
Also on display were 2 Llanwenog stock rams and a pen of ewe lambs – the policy being to retain ewe lambs from the better ewes as replacements and Elfyn stated his on-going challenge was to try to keep consistency of type within a small flock. The ewe lambs run with the Mules rather than being given any special treatment - a fact which encourages hardiness.