The landscape in the area owes much to the farming practices over many hundreds of years, as it does to the geology. Agricultural practice is mainly pastoral as the land doesn’t lend itself to arable crops.
The main enterprises are extensive sheep farming and the odd beef herd. The area is made up of small family run units, with the larger units being located further up the valley as the land becomes more hilly and the quality of the ground decreases.
Welsh mountain sheep and hardy speckles are the breed of choice, they are economical, hardy and will survive harsh winters with little input; most importantly they lamb easily outdoors. This breed is also one of the oldest, with reference being made to them in literature from the Middle Ages!
A mention must also be made to the Balwen sheep, indigenous to the Upper Twyi Valley, with a remarkable background. These are a small hardy breed that was nearly wiped out in the disastrous winter of 1947. The last ram was grazing on land above the dam (prior to its construction) and a remaining ewe was grazing land on the Carmarthenshire Ceredigion borders, numbers were slowly built up during the 60’s and 70’s, and they can now be found throughout the country, although they still remain on the RBST watch list. They are particularly striking due to their attractive markings and stand out in a crowd! Further information about the breed can be found at www.balwensheepsociety.com
Wales only native breed of cattle are at home, not only on the high ground and hills but also the lowland. This dual purpose breed, famed for its high quality meat and its excellent mothering ability can be spotted around this area. These prized animals are fondly referred to as “black gold from the Welsh hills’.
Despite massive mechanization to ease the laborious lone work of today’s farmer, there are numerous occasions in the farming calendar when extra manual help is required. This need forms a tradition that goes back many many generations, as can be seen from some of the photos. Typical examples are sheep gathering days and of course shearing days. Ten or more neighbours / friends will come to help; in turn, each farmer returns the favour as and when required.
Enjoy and take care in our countryside.
“Kill nothing but time
Take nothing but photographs
Leave nothing but goodwill”