We have a wide range of livestock for you to see when you come on one of our courses:
We breed Devon Ruby Cattle, Golden Guernsey Goats and Southdown Sheep. We also keep Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, various breeds of chickens and ducks and an apiary of honeybees.
Devon Ruby Cattle
We keep a micro herd of Devon Rubies, who are a small, easy-going local breed and who are strong and hardy and well able to cope with being kept outdoors. They produce fabulous beef, but we do not milk them.
Oxford Sandy & Black Pigs
We are great fans of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs, having reared a couple of breeding sows and had two litters from them. We started by raising a number of crossbreeds containing amongst others, Saddleback, Berkshire , Gloucester Old Spot and Duroc , but we fell in love with the OSB for its character, individual colouring and the taste of the meat.
Demand for traditionally reared meat from known provenance is growing and the taste of rare breed meat is nothing like that found at the supermarket and really has to be tried for its succulent flavour – and the crackling is positively mouth-watering…
We like to raise our animals as naturally as possible and don't use medications or growth promoters. We have bred pigs very successfully in the past, but now just raise weaners for meat for ourselves. The pigs are favourites with everyone who comes on the courses and are gregarious creatures - they are often seen galloping across the field to greet passers by at the gate!
Golden Guernsey Goats
We have a herd of nine GG goats, including the billy and his companion. A beautiful, docile and affectionate breed, they will win you over whether you thought you wanted goats or not!
We have been breeding Southdowns for a number of years. When trying to decide on a native breed of sheep that would suit our needs, we originally tried a couple of hill breeds, but found them too flighty and slow growing. We wanted a versatile breed that was pleasing to look at, fairly small and easy to handle and producing a fabulous meat. The Southdown fits that bill perfectly, being a docile and friendly lowland breed ideally suited to our lush pasture.
Southdowns come in two colours, the common white and the very rare chocolate brown colour. We are one of the few flocks in the country to breed both. Due to the popularity of the breed, it is now no longer a rare breed and is a popular choice for new smallholders.
Southdowns are excellent mothers, having very few lambing problems but with a tendency to get fat if overfed. This does mean that they are easy to raise on just grass and we only give ours concentrate feed in very small doses near to pregnancy.
We minimise the need for intervention or treatment by using careful stock management techniques. The sheep are rotated round the fields (following the cattle) to help break the worm cycle.
They are a great breed for a new smallholder, being extremely friendly and easy to handle and producing fabulous meat.
We specialise in producing pure bred runner ducks. Called Indian Runner Ducks, they actually originated in Indonesia and Malaysia (where i spent some of my childhood) so i am particularly fond of them. They are very elegant and excellent egg layers, with some of them producing green-blue eggs. A small slim duck, they are unable to fly. We currently have blues, blacks, chocolates and one white drake. We also have a Silver Appleyard duck, who struggles to keep up with her slimmer companions!
We have a range of poultry breeds, some hybrids and some rare and traditional varieties. Our chickens are free ranging in the fields and garden depending on the time of year. We sell free range eating eggs in a range of different colours.
I started keeping bees about fourteen years ago. I am a keen cook and gardener and wanted honey for experimenting with in the kitchen and bees to pollinate my vegetable plot. I started my beekeeping by attending a course run by our local agricultural college. We had the chance to talk to two very experienced beekeepers as well as open up a number of hives and see how they were laid out. My first bees came from my Uncle, who has keep a couple of hives in his back garden for as long as I can remember. He caught a small swarm and I drove them 40 minutes up the motorway in the back of my car, with a very secure mesh lid on the box!
My bees are kept in a small orchard, in our garden, surrounded by an abundance of pollen and nectar sources in the hedges and plants around.
We have four cats, who you may see idling about the grounds. One was rescued, one was dumped, one was born here and one I bought in a rash moment!
We also have two dogs: Thistle, our elderly 14 year old chocolate labrador, who is very grey about the chin and Otter, our bouncy seven year old Working Cocker Spaniel.