Fiona Hume's family has been on Arundel since 1894 – 123 years. Currently they run variety of sheep – merino/cormo flock for wool; English Leicester/ merino flock for fat lamb production. Small (200 ewes) heritage breed English Leicester flock for meat, wool and sheepskins. Fiona has begun selling meat to local restaurants, including the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery and their product has also been part of the 2017 Dark Mofo winter feast.
The English Leicester is a ‘heritage breed’ of sheep, bred in the 1860’s in the United Kingdom. They are a ‘rare’ breed with very few remaining in the UK and with the largest flock in Australia occurring in the Derwent Valley of Tasmania. Fiona Hume runs the flock of 200 ewes, on the family farm ‘Arundel’, producing approximately 100 sheep for consumption per year. Unlike ‘modern’ sheep breeds which can be ready for consumption in 3-4 months, their English Leicesters take longer to grow and mature and are ready for consumption from 8 months. At around 9 months of age a lamb is known as a ‘hogget’ and then from 12-15 months they become a ‘two tooth’. This classification is based on the eruption of permanent incisor teeth. ‘Mutton’ describes sheep over three years of age; however, once the permanent incisors erupt, the ‘market-place’ generally automatically classifies the sheep as mutton. Most farmers would say that a hogget or a two tooth is far more flavoursome than a lamb. In fact, many farmers would say that mutton is better than anything! Their ‘Arundel’ English Leicesters are available for market as lambs in Autumn, Winter and into Spring.Two-tooth sheep and mutton are also available at any time of year.
Their English Leicesters graze beside the Derwent River, feeding on clover and introduced and native grasses. In summer, when feed is less abundant, their diet is supplemented with lupin, molasses and mineral blocks (lick blocks); and in winter, before the Spring pastures grow, they are fed pellets (containing cereal grains, vitamins and minerals) as well as lick blocks and oaten hay. The English Leicester is said to be ‘what sheep used to taste like’. Their flavour is full and rich and their adequate fat content adds a distinct and traditional flavour. English Leicester is delicious when cooked slow e.g. roasted, on a spit and Argentinian style (asado criollo). Other cooking techniques may also suit.
All animals on their farm are treated ethically, with dignity and respect. All stock at ‘Arundel’ are checked regularly to ensure their wellbeing. All meat is hormone and antibiotic free.