A chance to look round an organic farm, just a few miles away? Oooh, yes please!
Five hundred acres. That used to count as a big farm, but in these days of agri-business, many are easily double that acreage. Here are sheep, cattle, oats and grassland – grassland that includes flower-rich meadows too.
We saw sheep, fed exclusively on the rich grassland which farmer Mark works hard to keep in good heart. Without good rich friable soil, no farm can function well. They’ve just finished lambing, and mothers and lambs foraged contentedly in the fields.
Oat fields are divided by traditional dry-stone walls, and by hedging, deliberately little-pruned, and with wide margins before the crop is planted to give abundant wildlife corridors.
There’s a small lake, home to oyster catchers which nest there.
Curlews and lapwings enjoy the site too, and Mark’s meadows are not cut for their sweet flower-rich hay until after July 15th each year, when ground-nesting birds have finished rearing their young.
We enjoyed a sheep-dog show. Eleven year old Jess was pleased to demonstrate her skill, as she dashed round in a wide circle, quickly bringing the sheep together into a compact group. It was good to see her eagerness, her enthusiasm for a job she does so well.
Finally, cattle. Mark brought us down quickly to the bottom of their field. The cows have recently calved, and are extremely protective. Best let them approach us. And they were curious, but ran (yes, ran) down the hill to get into the next-door field, as their calves, in some cases only a day old easily kept up with them.
And that was it. Apart from greeting the last-born lamb, only a day old. Her inexperienced mum had only had the one baby. Next year, she’ll probably have the more usual twins.
A happy morning.
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