Moss Peteral is an 1100-acre holding in Northumberland National Park, a couple of miles north of Hadrian's Wall and just south of Kielder/Wark forest. It's archetypal wide open moorland where the ground squelches underfoot and the sky goes on forever above. Agriculturally the land is classified as Severely Disadvantaged - productivity and farming choices are limited - like all our neighbours we keep sheep and rear beef cattle.

Moss Peteral is home to 300 hardy Swaledale ewes and 200 of their crossbred, Mule, daughters. The shepherding year starts here in November when the tups (rams) are loosed with the ewes. The younger Swale ewes are bred pure whilst the older, more experienced, girls in the prime of their life are put to a Bluefaced Leicester tup to produce Mule lambs. The Mule ewes go to a Texel tup. All the lambs are born in April - easily the busiest month in our year. The fastest growing Texel lambs are sold fat but most, along with the Swale and Mule wethers (castrated males), are sold as stores through local marts in September and October. The majority of Swale and Mule gimmers (female lambs) are retained as flock replacements and have another year to grow before being put to the tup as shearlings. All being well, the ewes crop four times before being 'drafted' and sold to farmers in softer climes where they may lamb once or twice more.
We're experimenting with a miniscule flock - three ewes and Alfie, the tup - of Wensleydales as the sheep look great and the lustrous and plentiful wool is sought after by hand-spinners. For two years we've put Alfie with 20 or so Swale ewes, hoping to produce crossbred, Masham, lambs which also carry a valued fleece. Alfie seems to think it's beneath his dignity to mount anything other than a purebred Wensleydale so that plan has come to nought.
We are building up a small herd of beautiful White Galloway cows. This is typical Galloway cattle country and the white strain have all the characteristics of the breed - doing well on poor grazing, easy calving and great mothers - and look stunning to boot. Every July our handful of cows are joined by another 20, all with calves at foot, and a bull to ensure another crop of curly-haired white calves nine months later. On a fine day the white beasts can just be spotted from the A69, 5 miles away. A second herd of about 30 Limosin cattle also summer here to fulfil the grazing requirements of our Higher Level Stewardship agreement. At present, and again to fulfil the Stewardship grazing requirements, we are buying in ten weaned Galloway or Blue Grey bullocks in the autumn, keeping them for a year and then selling them on for fattening.
Farmyard Hens - We have eight hens. Enough egg laying birds to supply our own needs.

Cat, the cat and Fleck
We couldn't manage the sheep at all without a keen and biddable dog. At present we've a mother and son team. Well, we can't really call them a team. The mother, Cat, is great. She looked the part from the moment we got her at 18 months old and has only improved as she has become familiar with the fields and tasks. Her son, Fleck, is a lovable rogue who has got the idea of chasing sheep but, to date, not in a controlled fashion. His dad, Ted, was a slow learner, but a useful dog in his later years, so we haven't given up on Fleck, yet…
We also have a cat (just to compound confusion). He lives in the warm above the boiler room and keeps the mice in check. He also hoovers up baby swallows which is unfortunate but is part of his hunting instinct.