I've got to apologise for not posting as much here as I'd planned
It's been very busy over at @HI_Voices
But I've been posting a lot there, much of it from the story in the Lost Flock book, so do have a look at the account. It's one I follow & I really enjoy the varied posts
Protecting, Preserving, Promoting
The Orkney Boreray flock was established and founded by Jane Cooper in 2017. Our core purpose is to protect the low numbers of Orkney Boreray sheep, on the Orkney Isles, by creating a new breeding programme to increase the population. ‘The Lost Flock’ simply would not have the opportunity to thrive in the natural landscape without the work of our Community.
Since our formation, we have established a loyal community of like-minded producers and collaborators who cherish and savour the remarkable qualities of Orkney Boreray sheep as much as we do. Members of the Orkney Boreray community stay in touch, visit each others’ farms to provide support and provide advice to one another, when necessary.
We invite dedicated crofters who are committed to our high welfare standards and want to be part of our ongoing mission to preserve Orkney Boreray sheep to contact us and be part of this new chapter in the story of the breed.
SLOW TO MATURE AT TWO OR THREE YEARS AND THEREFORE PRODUCING DELICIOUS MUTTON, ORKNEY BORERAY ALSO GIVE HIGH QUALITY FLEECES WHICH THEY SHED NATURALLY WITHOUT SHEARING.
Jane Cooper, Founder
A LOST FLOCK, RE-FOUND
Eight years ago, I’d just moved to a peedie farm in Orkney and was looking forward to bringing up 5 Boreray wether lambs to provide me with fleece for my spinning. Then I was told one was still a ram — “too good to castrate”.
That started a journey that led to a breeding flock of sheep I gathered from three tiny flocks in the Highlands, and in 2017 I discovered that I was the custodian of the last remnants of the ‘Lost Flock’ of Boreray sheep. A unique subgroup. My joy and passion for these amazing little sheep thus also became a huge responsibility.
To secure the long term future of Orkney Boreray sheep, I’ve worked to establish flocks with more (younger!) crofters and farmers — to develop products and markets and make them a profitable enterprise for everyone involved. None of this would have been possible without the support of my husband and family, our friends, and now the members of the Orkney Boreray Community.
THE ORKNEY BORERAY COMMUNITY
Our wider Community includes crofters, farmers, craftspeople, producers, butchers, chefs and businesses.
The Orkney Borerary Foundation is open to dedicated and like-minded crofters and farmers in the Orkney Isles who are interested in raising a flock of their own. We are also interested in discussions with new partner producers in the food and craft sectors.
Orkney had a rich heritage of textile weaving which had been lost for over 30 years, and my business, Orkney Cloth, is hoping to revive it once again. After arriving in Orkney on a graduate weaving placement in 2018, I began teaching hand weaving, before setting up the business — making contemporary and sustainable textiles inspired by my island home.
By employing a deliberately small-scale approach and using locally sourced materials like Orkney Boreray fleece, we focus on making our textiles as sustainable as possible — encouraging people to buy less and consume better.
All Things Heathen
I am a blacksmith and craftsman based in Orkney. Through my business, All Things Heathen, I handcraft pagan, viking and heathen jewellery, home decor, tools and many more items — available for purchase through my Etsy store.
I am currently working some new products working with Orkney Boreray sheep. These will be one of a kind products due to the colouring of the horn and the bone. Each piece I work with will have a unique and natural pattern to it that is revealed when carved. Follow me on Instagram for the latest projects and crafts.
Nearly a decade ago, our family moved to Orkney, and we chose to buy a small north-facing farm/croft, that we still absolutely love. For a number of years now, we've been raising an Orkney Boreray flock and, as with everything on our coastal patch, it's an 'all hands on deck' family operation to keep things running smoothly.
It's very satisfying to be a small-scale, single farm yarn producer, sending small batches of fleece to the North Ronaldsay Mill to produce several distinct, naturally-coloured yarns. Regular croft updates and products for sale can be found at Jen-Ewe-Ine on Facebook where you can also find contact info.
Macbeth’s Butchers is a family-run business that provides high quality meat products throughout the UK. As well as traditional Scottish native breed beef, we supply locally-sourced pork, lamb, venison, game and mutton — including Orkney Boreray mutton. We work with farms, crofts and organisations with a similar philosophy to ourselves — rearing livestock in extensive, natural environments, with grass, hay or silage feed and no growth promoters.
Orkney Boreray mutton sells out rather quickly, in our experience, so keep an eye on our website for the latest availability, and get in touch with any queries.
Scottish Food Guide
I am a cook, food writer and Scottish Thistle Award Regional Ambassador, as well as a campaigner for local produce. I support and collaborate with various organisations and charities, and lead Slow Food Scotland’s Ark of Taste — undertaking in-depth research into Scotland's Food Heritage.
My growing network of chefs and producers throughout Scotland and across Europe, particularly Scandinavia, has hugely enhanced my extensive experience and critical view of Scotland’s strengths, and I specialise in promoting artisan produce like Orkney Boreray mutton. More information is available on my website.
L'Escargot Bleu Restaurant
At l'escargot bleu in Edinburgh we, as a family, have given lots of thought to our food and now more than ever we are only welcoming the best ingredients into our kitchen — ingredients that respect the farmer's ethos, the grower’s philosophy, the fisherman's respect for the ocean and the cheesemaker’s traditional recipe.
We offer a blackboard ‘bistro-style’ menu that will evolve and change in response to feedback and demand. These shorter menus will place emphasis on quality and the seasons — see our website for details.
NORMAN AND HAZEL SHEARER
Airy Farm, Stronsay
Airy Farm, Stronsay
has been home to traditional beef cattle such as Aberdeen Angus and
Limousin for decades. Sheep have come and gone over the years and our
recent small flock started with our daughters four pet lambs.
Airy’s varied habitat is home to many species of birds and wildlife and flowers, it is a place where livestock and nature thrive together. A recent health scare meant taking the hard decision to sell off our beef herd, this left us wondering what the future would hold for Airy. When Jane approached us about hosting a flock of Boreray Sheep wethers we were very interested! The Boreray story is fascinating and the ethos behind the Boreray breed preservation and the slow food movement should be at the heart of all farming.
And so, as our new adventure begins with our own flock of Boreray sheep, we are proud to be part of their story.
Regular farm updates can be found at Airy Farm on Facebook
ABBIE & RICHARD SHIPLEY-GORDON
Abbie and Richard moved to the island of Hoy in Orkney from the south coast of England in 2021. A young couple, with boundless energy, an impressive array of practical skills, and a strong desire to farm rare breed sheep, even though they were new to farming. They have both always loved animals and dreamed of one day having a small livestock farm.
Abbie and Richard have achieved a great deal on their farm since they moved up, building a shed (what is call a barn outside Orkney), learning how to care for a number of different species and breeds of livestock, joining the volunteer RNLI crew and settling in to the community in Hoy. They want to share with others the joy and happiness their animals bring them, so have opened their farm to the public.
“So far, our Borerays are responding well to a well trained sheepdog and living with my flock of Hebridean sheep. A dog that gives them room can control their desire to single themselves off and fling themselves at ‘windswept’ island fences and encourage the sheep to flock better. ‘There is no good flock without a good shepherd and there is no good shepherd without a good dog’. I am hoping that they will play their part in the training of young sheepdogs, teaching them to work them properly, with respect and heightened skills. I really like my Boreray sheep.”
KATE STEVENS & RICHARD RAE
Wester House, Birsay
We wanted a British native preferably Scottish breed hardy enough to cope with Orkney climate, and are good for regenerative farming we are trying to encourage on the land we have. We came across Orkney Boreray by chance, they were already established here, and they don't seem to have the jumping capabilities of Soays, which we were originally looking into getting!
We like being part of a community, as there are always others to call on for their advice, help and experience. We’ve learnt a lot since we first got the sheep when they all decided to totally disrespect the internal temporary wire fencing and graze wherever takes their fancy, so we're very glad we got the stock proof perimeter fencing finished on the field before they arrived here.
They have also split into 2 factions of a pair and a flock of 4, despite arriving as an already small flock of 6. We're unsure why, it could be down to the extra space they've allowed themselves by ignoring the internal fencing, or because the nanny ewe Cara has now realised that she is very much head of the pecking order, and has turned into a relentless bully, especially at the feeding troughs!
Our ram Carl-Henrick has settled well and we plan to start lambing next year, and then to just maintain a suitably sized flock for the farm to maintain the breed lines, land biodiversity, and produce with minimal wastage.
MARIANNE VAN DER ES
Her Flock within a Flock at Burnside
I believe it is vital to start making small, local changes to the way we live if we want to continue living on this planet in a sustainable way. Orkney Boreray community is a small group of like minded people, who support each other, share and discuss online and in person everything Boreray sheep related.
Orkney Boreray helps with rare breed conservation, improving soil and landscape, supports local crofting, arts & crafts, slow food and more. Due to hard work and dedication, we already have won awards for Slow Food Product in the Slow Food Scotland Award Winners 2022, and Sustainable Food Producer of the Year by RBST Scotland in 2022 and 2023.
Cafe St Honoré
Neil has been a champion of local, seasonal cooking for almost four decades. His commitment to sourcing ingredients with integrity stems from his upbringing in a family of chefs. He continues this tradition by leading the way for the future generation of cooks, passing on his knowledge, skills and recipes, ensuring they aren’t lost forever.
At his Edinburgh restaurant, Neil combines rare breeds, organic produce and local fruit and veg in seasonally-led menus featuring many old Scots recipes.