Alpacas in the morning frost.

Alpacas in the morning frost.

The recent cold snap has made for frosty white mornings here on the farm. We haven’t seen snow this winter, but the frosts have certainly transformed the landscape. It has even been sufficiently cold overnight to freeze our wildlife ponds. Have you captured the wintry weather around the farm? Share your pics with us on facebook (/MudchuteParkFarm) or twitter (@mudchute)!

Despite the cold, we are pressing on with improvement works across Mudchute. There is much to do before Spring arrives! Interested in lending a hand? We’d love to hear from anyone who has time, tools or expertise to share! Please get in touch our volunteer coordinator Louise at volunteering@mudchute.org.


Blackbirds search in the leaf litter for their prey.

Blackbirds search in the leaf litter for their prey.

This weekend is the Big Garden Birdwatch! The perfect excuse to get outside and meet your wild neighbours. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a garden, there are plenty of wild creatures to discover right on your doorstep and here at Mudchute!

With few leaves on the trees, it’s a great time of year for birdwatching. Keep an eye out for finches and tits in the trees, chattering as they nibble on catkins and buds. Keep an ear out for scolding blackbirds and melodious starlings. And be sure to keep an eye out for the bright orange breast of the robin, a bird that seem ubiquitous in the hedges! Need help identifying a bird you’ve spotted? Be sure to have a look at the RSPB’s what to look out for page. Mudchute is also frequented by a number of more exotic species as well, with wild ring-necked and monk parakeets frequenting the farm. So if you think you hear a parrot squawking overhead, you’re probably right!

Here are just a few of the avifauna that make Mudchute their home! Out birdwatching this weekend? Be sure to share your sightings with the RSPB and us! You can tweet them us @mudchute and be sure to use #Birdwatch!


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Look at those lovely horns!

Look at those lovely horns!

Here at Mudchute, we are hosting the lovely Biddlesden Warrant. This handsome Whitefaced Woodland ram has a lovely temperament and gorgeous set of horns to match. Even more exciting are his genes. Whitefaced Woodlands are a vulnerable native sheep breed, which means there are only 500 – 900 breeding females in the UK. With such a small population, it is very important to ensure we keep our animals healthy and continue to breed to unrelated stock (no mean feat with so few individuals). With a carefully managed breeding programme and working closely with the RBST and breed societies, we hope to be able to help maintain and develop this beautiful hill breed and are delighted to have Warrant on the farm with us. So far he seems to be a hit with our ladies as well!

Warrant checking up on the ewes.

Warrant checking up on the ewes.

You may notice Warrant is wearing a harness. This device is a raddle, which holds a pad of paint or chalk. The raddle lets us know when the ram or tup) “covers” a ewe. Over the next few days you also spot him sniffing at the ewes with his top lip curled back, a behaviour called “flehmen” that helps him detect their hormone levels, which will tell him whether or not they will be receptive to his advances.

Rams are not the only ones who travel for a bit of matchmaking. Two of our Oxford Down ewes have been off to spend some time at Lambourne End with Hannibal the Southdown ram.

All the matchmaking seems to be going well and we hope to welcome lambs in the late spring. Ewes typically give birth after an average of 147 days (about 5 months), but won’t show many outward signs of pregnancy for quite some time as much of the fetal growth takes place in the final 1-2 months of gestation. With a bit of luck, we’ll be expecting at the end of Spring!