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.

April News

It’s been the usual crazy life here here on the farm. Lambing has finally finished (January through to April). We did feel it this year. Alongside setting up our Country School we were pretty worn out by April!

Farmers rarely take holidays but we have enjoyed an annual week away in August/September in West Wales for a number of years now. Our children have also been to Ireland, Scotland and England but apparently are the only children “in the world” to have never travelled “abroad”.

After long deliberations about where to go for a break this August, I ended up booking a last minute deal to Lanzarote in Easter! Our very first family holiday abroad! After trawling the internet and looking at August prices, it suddenly dawned on me that we have finished lambing, not started shearing and all the animals are outside so easier to manage (apart from our calves being hand reared). On one week’s notice, family members were drafted in to look after the animals, passports checked (obtained 4 years ago in anticipation ….) and the holiday was booked!

Beverly Hillbillies abroad! Many thanks to all the airport and hotel staff who saw our perplexed faces and helped towards what has been our most relaxing holiday ever. Volcanos, exploding chocolate fountains and sting rays all added to the fun, and no cooking for a week!!!!


Back now in the real world………….

“Do you think it’s a wind up?’ was my initial response as I stared in awe at the royal invitation, lying on the kitchen table. At the time of writing this blog, I am off to see the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh tomorrow. I am pretty sure that there will be a few hundred of us and that it is not a personal meeting! A celebration of the diamond jubilee. Got myself a nice frock…….watch this space!

Our website is finally going live! I had no idea how complicated website  building was with talks of “coding” and “populating” that goes over my head as I sit, smile and nod in agreement. I am looking forward to seeing it on the web next  week.

We had a lovely filly foal born here this month. Mum is a beautiful cob belonging to our nephew. Mother and daughter doing well. Unconfirmed but possible name – April?

Well I don’t know about little April showers, we have had blustery downpours in the last week of April! Although the outdoor pig enclosure is finally completed, we’re waiting for the weather to clear before the pigs try it out for the first time. Some of them are very young!

Huge congratulations to all our Kate’s Country School graduates who completed our lambing courses! I don’t know about the students but myself and Jim had a great time! Lovely Lizzy, a journalist from the Guardian, joined us on our final lambing course of 2012 . You can read her article here.

Lambing courses will start again in January 2013. Our next courses in May are;

Sheep Husbandry – 4th May. For all budding shepherds! Includes dagging, foot trimming, parasite control, nutrition, housing and more……. Don’t be sheepish, come along!

Introduction to Livestock – 11th May. Lovely introduction to sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens for small holders or complete novices who just want to have a go!

Butchery courses are also available in May, at our Family Butchers in Abergavenny.

We now have our very own pub! Well actually we’ve just put a dartboard up in the cider house. The radio provides the music unless Jim is singing after sampling the wares! I’ve got to say it is tasting lovely, but I have concerns as to how much we will have left for our Cider Courses!!! Did think that 150 gallons might be enough to keep us going!!

Will blog again soon with more news from the farm and royal meetings!