Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A year at Saddlescombe

The new boys, left to Right - Thomas, Peter & Benjamin
Freddie & Molly with Rapunzel, Tiara and Belle
Left to right - Austin Weldon, Peter Thompson and Camilla
It feels good!  To have experienced all the seasons on the farm it helps for our surroundings to now feel like our home.  We're starting to really understand the fields and know where our favourite spots are for the best views and chances of spotting some wildlife.

We were lucky to have Peter Thompson and Austin Weldon from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust visit us yesterday.  They came to walk the farm and discuss our environmental work.  We saw meadow pipits, linnets, skylarks, goldfinches and partridge all around our wildbird seed mix plot, it was so exciting.  They would have been busy feeding on the millet and triticale seeds which are all part of the mix we have planted.  Other arable plants we saw were fumitory, field pansy and field madder.

The cows are currently not very happy with us, we moved them a week ago onto Varncombe Bank.  This is an area of grazing which needs their help!  We have been busy scrub clearing and managing the gorse to allow more area and light onto the bank to help encourage the wildflowers and grasses to grow back.  The cows have an important conservation job to do, through grazing the area they will also encourage the native species to grow back.  However, it looks like they don't think it is that tasty!  So we will need to move them again soon.

The sheep are doing well.  The ewes are out in Saddle field which is an amazing field next to Devils Dyke.  Plenty of grass to keep them happy until they meet the boys in a few weeks time.  Our ram numbers have increased in the last week.  We have two new Lleyn rams who we bought from a farming friend in Worcestershire and they caught a  lift down with Roly's parents last week.  They are very  handsome and they will be meeting our girls who we use to lamb our replacement flock, so if they have girls we keep them.  Molly has named them Peter and Benjamin.  Our third new arrival is a Texel called Thomas, he will be helping Basil, Bruce, Ted and Churchill do their work with the main flock.

Rapunzel, Tiara and Belle (the pigs, not Disney princesses) will soon be leaving us. They have added so much to our daily routines here, they are just brilliantly inquisitive, fun and really naughty! They have been tickled, scratched and told off for escaping through the fence and digging up some of the garden. They are being fed lots of apples, plums and whatever else they have found in their quest to totally dig up their lovely patch. Ultimately we hope they will taste delicious and that our customers will appreciate where they have come from and pork is to be very much part of our Saddlescombe story.  We are selling boxes containing delicious joints, chops and sausages, please let us know if you would like some, we have already had lots of interest.

We are really excited and proud to now be supplying some of our local pubs with lamb, The Royal Oak at Poynings, where lots of our Bed and Breakfast guests have supper and always have a lovely time, The Fountain at Ashurst and the Rainbow Inn at Cooksbridge.  Stewart Parker their chef came out to the farm and it was great to have the opportunity to show him around.  The Ginger Fox is our other lovely local pub and restaurant and also have Saddlescombe lamb on the menu and we supply their sister pub the Ginger Pig in Hove.  We are delighted that the lamb we work so hard taking care of and enjoy doing so much is being enjoyed by our local community.

As I look out the window, the tail end of hurricane Gonzalo is playing havoc and the leaf fall is significant.  We are looking forward to Autumn, Roly always says he enjoys the new seasons.

More soon

Camilla, Roly, Molly, Freddie, Boris and Belle