With the traceability and origin of food on the minds of more and more Londoners, a lambing visit to the farm seemed like a great way to bring Londonist readers a little closer to what goes on our plates.
Situated in the Wiltshire countryside, Langley Chase Organic Farm is a small farm with some big time fans, such as London chef and restaurateur Mark Hix. Home to a flock of multi-horned primitive rare breed Manx Loaghtan sheep, Langley Chase is on occasion the source of lamb and mutton for famed London restaurants like St John. We suspect more restaurants would be keen to include the farm’s meat on their menus but Langley Chase’s guiding ethics and bespoke service don't quite fit the large scale commercial model required by most eateries.
The flock (now numbering 160) was started 12 years ago by Jane Kallaway after the BSE crisis left her wondering what exactly she was feeding her family. “Ruminants eating ground up ruminants” was beyond the pale for Jane and in the Manx Loaghtan she found a “striking” and endangered breed to rear that was also especially healthy to eat.
Almost 10% lower in cholesterol and 23% lower in fat than commercial breeds, these lean grazing machines enjoy a diet of organic wildflower meadows. The Manx Loaghtan (pronounced Manx Lockton) was introduced to the British Isles during the Iron Age by Vikings. It’s a hearty beast and, given a life beyond the strict timetables of commercial farming, matures slowly and on its own without much need for human intervention. Still, lambing season is busy season down at Langley Chase.
It’s also splendidly photogenic. We marvelled at the amount of work that went into feeding and looking after the ewes and their newborns. We ‘oohed and ahhed’ a lot as well at all the darling lil lambs. Gawking at the multi-horned (and down right satanic looking rams) was fascinating too. These animals provide a window to the origins of British farming. Our visit ended with a sausage, salami and oak smoked lamb tasting. The Manx Loaghtan lambs are as tasty as they are cute! Visit Langley Chase online at www.langleychase.co.uk.