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IMG_6644Our handsome Oxford Down ram Bertie has been enjoying the company of the lovely Jacob Ewes of Stepney City Farm as well as a few of our own ewes. He’s all raddled up and wasted little time! Putting a ram to the ewes now in November should mean lambs will arrive in April if all goes to plan as the typical gestation in sheep is 5 months.

The harness Bertie wears is called a raddle. This holds a crayon which marks the ewes as he services them. These markings allow farmers to keep track of which ewes have been covered and by changing the colour of crayon, when this occurs. By monitoring the marks, we can work out if and when the ewes have come into or gone out of season.

Mudchute Bertie seems to be doing a fine job, so we hope to welcome new lambs in the Spring. If any Oxford breeders are interested in his tupping services, please do get in touch via farm@mudchute.org.

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Fallen leaves make tasty treats.

Fallen leaves make tasty treats.

The leaves are changing colour and beginning to fall across the farm. Autumn has arrived on the farm! Keep an eye out for the changing leaves with bright golden leaves of lime trees and bright reds of our acers and sorbus. Falling leaves are also a seasonal treat for many of our animals who are partial to a crunchy leaf or too. No need for a leaf blower on the cow field! Dora and Delilah headed straight for the trees when let out this morning, quickly hoovering up the leaves that fell overnight.

Keep an eye out for autumnal foliage!

Keep an eye out for autumnal foliage!

Lots of crunchy leaves across the farm!

Lots of crunchy leaves across the farm!

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caterpillars

Last week one of our visitors sent in the photo above, concerned about the rapid defoliation by these hungry caterpillars! They are not invasive species that has been making headlines, but caterpillars of the Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala), a native species known for their gregarious habit as caterpillars.

We caught up with the caterpillars later in the week and they certainly had grown and spread out! Yet they continue to eat oak leaves at an impressive rate. They will soon be preparing to pupate, tucked up underground, to emerge next year as adults in June or July.

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Thanks again for spotting this! Have you noticed any interesting or unusual wildlife at Mudchute? Be sure to send any queries our way! We’re only a tweet, Facebook message or email away!