It's been an excellent year for haymaking - or in our case, haylage. We had a lot of rain earlier in the season which pushed the growth on so we got a great first cut and today Marcus, our friendly local farmer/contractor/welding supremo has just mowed a second cut. It's a comforting feeling to know there is plenty of fodder in for the animals this Winter.
After an incredibly wet May we have moved forward into a warm June. I am struggling to find someone to come and shear our three remaining pet sheep this year- I guess that's a side effect of the overseas shearers not being able to come into the country and all the work going to the already busy English shearers. Wallows are running for t
After an incredibly wet May we have moved forward into a warm June. I am struggling to find someone to come and shear our three remaining pet sheep this year- I guess that's a side effect of the overseas shearers not being able to come into the country and all the work going to the already busy English shearers. Wallows are running for the pink skinned Lop pigs as we speak- keeping them cool is a real priority!
There have been a regular procession of dry, sunny days this month, and whilst this is aesthetically wonderful, from a farm point of view it's starting to be just a bit worrying. The ground is dry and cracking, and our hay field is looking decidedly bare. We have very low stocking densities, fortunately, but if we can't make a crop of hay this year we may end up buying it in, which could end up expensive. Fingers crossed for some rain soon!
Spring has finally arrived on the farm and with it, another litter of British Lop piglets, this time from JoJo. She had a super litter of 13, and it turned out very lucky for us as all of them are strong and well. The majority of the litter are sold to Christow Pig Club, so will be off to their new homes in the Teign Valley at the end of April. They're a cheeky bunch- I imagine the piglet on the right is saying to his brother that his ear is inside out!
Jon and the team have been working on finishing off Mill Barn and helping me put the final luxurious finishing touches to our holiday annexe, The Old Stables. From April 12th you'll be able to come and stay on the farm, meet the animals and explore this wonderful corner of Devon. The Old Stables has one spacious bedroom with a Kingsize bed, a separate kitchen and living room with woodburner downstairs and a pretty enclosed terrace overlooking our garden. Booking is through Classic Cottages- if you'd like to book I would get your skates on, as like all holiday accommodation in the South-West it is booking up quickly. https://www.classic.co.uk
Lovely Travis, the buckskin Quarter horse is really settling in well now and is such a pleasure to have around. He will do anything for a 'sweetie'! I am looking forward to getting him out and about to some clinics and events this Summer. Both the horses are shedding their winter coats, so there is an awful lot of fluff around, which the birds pick up to line their nests. Everything has a use!
Like everyone around the country we are really looking forward to starting to get back to some kind of normality. It has been a long and lonely time. We've particularly missed going out to our favourite local pubs, The Five Bells and The Merry Harriers, and seeing all our lovely friends. I very much hope this lockdown is, as they are saying, irreversible.
So this month the biggest project on Farrantshayes yet was completed. Orchard Barn is a four bed, all ensuite renovation of the biggest listed barn on the farm. It also involved a full rebuild of a wing of the barn that was burnt down in the 1950s, so there was a lot of pressure to get it right! It's turned out just lovely and is definitely a testament to Jon and his team's incredible work ethic and talent. A family from the South-East are moving in in March and we can't wait to see them enjoying their new lives in Devon in this old building, given a new lease of life.
There was a really long cold snap early this month, which went on for about ten days. The ground was frozen solid. Sadly for me though, there was no snow! ❄️ Simon, who lives in the Cattle Shed, took this amazing photo of these icicles down near Escot Park. Aren't they incredible! Fortunately the pipes didn't freeze this year, so we didn't have to bucket water to the animals in a wheelbarrow this year.
Now that it's beginning to thaw out a little bit, there are even signs of Spring. It's wonderful to see the crocuses and primroses pop their heads up underneath the farm sign! With the news that there is a route out of lockdown, we are starting to feel a bit more hopeful about a return to normality. We are still very lucky to have the farm though, and I've really been enjoying riding out around the lanes with Ernie, who is striding out like he really doesn't believe he is 26 this year.
Ah, another year, another lockdown! However January got off to a good start, with Vicky, our senior British Lop sow, having a cracking litter of sixteen. Sadly a few didn't make it past the first few days. This seems to be a trend with January litters, despite heat lamp and all precautions. Still, we have twelve little oinkers that have made it to day four, and that is still a good sized litter. We've had good feedback from those who've bought weaner from us in the summer, so there shouldn't be any problem finding homes for these guys and gals.
So many of my friends are stuck at home trying to educate their children, who are understandably getting increasingly bored. To be honest I am also missing getting out on the farm, showing kids where their food comes from, as Farmlink (for whom I normally run farm tours over at Quicke's cheese) are unable to offer visits to school groups at present. So I put a post up on my Facebook page offering free 'virtual farm tours'. Suffice to say I wasn't expecting it to be quite so popular- it's now been shared over 3800 times! So next week I will be doing a 'Facebook Live' session, and wandering around to meet the piglets, pigs, cows, sheep and horses, as well as answer any questions. I'm just hoping our mobile internet holds out!
All you have to do to join a farm tour is click on:
Tours will take place at the following times for these age groups.
Monday 11th Jan- 2-2.30pm 3-5 year olds
Tuesday 12th -11-11.30 5-7 year olds
Wednesday 13th- 11-11.30 7-9 year olds
Thursday 14th- 2-2.30 9-11 year olds
Friday 15th- 11-11.30 11 plus
The camera and sound will probably dip in and out during that time- just let me know, and I will do what I can do move to an area where the 3/4g is better! Put any questions in the chat function and I will do my best to answer them.
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