Chute Yeah, It's Mudchute!
Today, we went to Mudchute Farm on the Isle of Dogs. Mudchute is the largest city farm in the UK at 32 acres, and is London's only rare breeds approved conservation center. The ground that the farm is on was originally a gun sight during World War II, and some of the gun bunkers have now been converted into animal housing.
The farm manager and our guide for the day, Tom, was raised in Southwest London and had no background in farming until he began to volunteer at farms. He became the farm manager at Mudchute when he was only 19 years old, but left after 5 years to work with teens who needed anger management. He returned in 2016 after being sought out by the Mudchute as they had watched his progression in farm management. Tom is experienced in sheep (Famous for supreme showing of White Faced Woodlands) and duck breeding (2x Rouen Duck Breeder of the Year), along with being a trustee for the Rare Breeds Trust.
We began with visiting some of the rare ewe and lamb sheep breeds, which consisted of White Faced Woodlands, Southdowns, and Castlemilk Moorits. Tom uses some of these sheep for showing and also allows a friend to board his two sheep on Mudchute in exchange for night lambing duties and weeding.
Next, we visited the Dexter cattle. This breed produces good beef, but Tom uses them for showing as well. There is a long and short legged variety and all are horned. The two smaller, younger cows are both in calf at the moment; Twiglet is due in December, and Tamarisk is due in February. The larger cow is named Delilah and is described as "chunky." She has a party trick of showing everybody how long her tongue can stretch and Tom simply keeps her around because she is sweet and healthy. All are of full size!
There are four breeds of pigs at Mudchute: Tamworths, Middle Whites, Large Blacks, and a Vietnamese potbelly. Middle Whites and Large Blacks are among the rarest of all pig breeds. Tom plans on using Deer Park AI to restore extremely old bloodlines for these two breeds in hopes to add more depth to Mudchute's story. He is planning on breeding the pigs currently at the farm and selling them in pig to help pay for the older bloodlines.
Last, but not least, we got to visit the goats, rams, and shearlings. The shearling breeds consist of Jacobs, Southdowns, Oxford Downs, and White Face Woodlands. The goats were breeds such as Anglo Nubians, Toggenburgs, and Golden Guernseys. Golden Guernseys were dying out during the Second World War when the German army ate all the livestock on the Island. Luckily, Elizabeth Milburn gathered and hid the goats in a sea cove, which ended up saving the breed from extinction.
Enjoy some other cute animals located on the farm!
English word of the day: Shearling- unbred female sheep
Mia & Alexis