Real Cider – one of your five a day!

Our multifunctional stone barn


We have a very special stone barn here on the farm. It is Grade 2* listed and possibly the last barn of it’s kind remaining in agricultural use in the county, if not in South Wales. Housing animals during the Winter months it also hosts village events during the Summer. Neighbouring White Castle has records of a farmstead being here as early as the 12th century with the cider house being added on in the 17th century. Kate’s Country School classroom is above the cider house (top of the steps in the photo). The farm is seething in history, myths and legends. By the 18th century, most farm workers’ wages included 4 pints of cider which is why many farms had a cider press, we still have ours. Payment by cider became illegal in 1887 so we just drink it!!
Cider making team 2012

Cider making team 2012

Following the poor apple harvest this year, we did manage to bring in extra apple supplies from over the border (Much Marcle). This resulted in an amazing day in October when students pulped, pressed and filled our ex-single malt wooden barrels with scrummy juice. This will produce 200 gallons of cider which they are returning to sample in a few months. With no added sugar or yeast, it has to be one of your five a day!

Filling the barrels

Filling the barrels

Due to the soggy conditions, our cattle have happily come inside so will require mucking out and feeding through the winter months. Gertie, Bessie and Liz (our Gloucester Old Spot pigs) have also been brought in to the piggery as they are all about to farrow and their outside enclosure is very wet. Watch this space for piglets……………..

Our bronze turkeys are now very free range and are enjoying the many scenic walks we have around the farm.

Bronze Turkeys

The January lambing ewes all had an ultrasound scan in October. We were extremely happy with the 201% result. The ideal is 200% (two lambs per ewe). We can now feed the ewes accordingly as sheep carrying one lamb require less feed than sheep carrying multiple lambs. If you have booked on the January lambing course (now full) it looks like you’re going to be very busy!

Can you see twin lambs in this scan?


The tups have now all been removed from the ewes which means we should finish lambing by April 5th. There are course dates available in March with special St. David’s Day celebrations on March 1st!

All our 2013 course dates are now available via the website. Please do not hesitate to contact me direct for details or if you are a group wanting to try something new. Don’t forget, if you’re looking for unusual Christmas gifts we supply gift vouchers which can be posted or e-mailed directly to you. The perfect present! Sheep husbandry, Country writing, Butchery, Wildlife, Shearing, Stone Walling and much, much more……….Loads of subjects, dates throughout the year and all for £90 or less. There must be something here for you.

On a final note, as the temperature drops, keep warm and please remember the wildlife. Well replenished birdfeeders are wonderful to watch out of the window and remember many wild animals are hibernating so try not to disturb your “messy” garden areas.

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It’s June, where did May go !!

We are very happy to announce that our website is finally Live. If you haven’t already seen it, have a peek. Some of you are starring in it! Many thanks for that. Kate’s Country School.

Well, I did go to the Jubilee celebration in a local church with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh (and lots of other people!) It was amazing. No cameras were allowed in the church but had a picture taken of my hat beforehand.

No wellies or overalls today!

You have to admire that lady, 86 years old and still working so hard. Hope Phillip is feeling better very soon. Our sheds and barn have been cleaned out and the muck spread to fertilise the fields ready for our greencrop which will be planted in June. (Circle of life, this will be eaten by our pregnant ewes during the winter months). We also planted spring barley at the beginning of April. The barn was used this weekend for our village Jubilee party. It’s a wonderful, multifunctional barn.

Our beautiful old barn, day after our village party.

Our pigs are outside enjoying their new enclosure.

Happy to stay in bed when the weather is grim.

Piglets arrived in time for our Introduction to Livestock course where students also had hands on experience with sheep, chickens and calves. Jim decided that our lambing shed was looking too empty after lambing so we now have 34 calves we are bucket rearing. He has also decided that we need 20 bronze turkeys to rear for Christmas. Life is never dull here!

There was a familiar sheepy aroma around the kitchen table at the end of our Sheep Husbandry Course. It was very hands on. Well done to the students for remembering to bring waterproofs! We have sold 200 lambs so far this year.

Our cattle have been very confused this year. In April they left their winter accommodation and returned to the fields.

Hurrah, out into the sunny fields

They then had to return indoors when the weather turned extremely wet. They ran eagerly inside for shelter!

Yuk! Not staying out in this!

They are all back outside again enjoying the grass. we have had 29 calves born so far this year with two pregnant cows left. Watch this space …….

We began shearing on May 28th and it is still ongoing. It was lovely to see our son learning this valuable traditional skill from his Dad.

An traditional skill being passed down to the next generation.

Monday 21st May was an interesting day spent sailing down the Thames on a farm themed boat to launch a new NFU farming campaign, Farming Delivers.

Wildlife is abundant on the farm this time of year. Our otters have been seen frolicking with their young on the river. Nesting birds can be heard in the hedgerows and buildings and our meadows are looking spectacular. You can see for yourself on our Wildlife Course on June 29th.

Abundant with biodiversity.


Unfortunately our bees swarmed earlier this year. It wasn’t unexpected as the queen was three years old. I have a new top bar hive arriving this week with a new batch of bees. Less intervention required and we can let the bees get on with things as nature intended.

If you’re ever stuck for gift ideas, don’t forget we can supply gift vouchers. Hand made and posted or e-mailed directly to you. The perfect present!

Hope the weather improves. have a good rummage through the website and see what you think.