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Here at Wookey farm, we’re doing our best to farm with nature and biodiversity in mind, trying to always make decisions with nature in mind.
Hedgerows are a haven for local wildlife, providing much needed habitats for birds, mammals and insects so we let our hedges grow wherever we can. The goats also love hedges so we’ve put up stock proof fencing so they can’t destroy them!
Soil – the key to everything
I’ve done a lot of reading about regenerative farming which focuses on improving and revitalising soil health. Healthier soils store more carbon, in fact even more than trees, so its vital that we look after them. Improving soil health is key to improving productivity and biodiversity. One of the key components of healthy soil is organic matter and improving soil matter content can reduce or even stop soil erosion and improve water infiltration, water retention, nutrient cycling, plant health, biodiversity and much much more.
In order to protect the soils, we don’t use any artificial fertilisers, or pesticides and limit the amount of compaction. We’re trying to mob graze the goats so the grasses have time to recover. Mob grazing means the animals eat a third, trample a third and leave a third – therefore protecting the soils and leaving deep roots in tact. There are more nutrients available within the plants as the roots are healthier. The plants and grasses can bounce back because we have left healthy roots so they’re not having to put all their energy into the roots finding nutrients. They can concentrate on growing above ground. It sounds like a perfect solution – the only problem is the time taken to move the electric fencing and making sure they always have access to water. Also goats don’t like rain so access to shelter may be an issue – I’m sure I’ll find a solution as it really does seem better for livestock, better for soils and better for biodiversity as the longer grasses attract more insects and mammals.
Off to a farm for a workshop all about regenerative farming next week so will hopefully come back buzzing with more ideas.
Lots of really helpful advice here at the nature friendly farming network
As well as some great podcasts
Our online shop always has a bit of a rest at the beginning of the year. The goats are dry while they wait to kid and then the kids get all the milk until the goats have enough to share. Apologies this year has taken me a little longer to get the online shop back up and running as I was busy catching up with local orders. Anyway, we’re now back in full production so you can enjoy our cheese wherever you are.
Once again we are having a fantastic camping season with many families not ready to go abroad. Its been great to welcome some first-time campers and hope they have enjoyed the experience and will embrace a new style of nature-based holidays.
Cheese making is all going well and the goats have been producing lots of lovely milk for me.
The big news for summer 2021 is that we have opened our new farm shop. It seems to be going down well with a mix of gifts, food and alcohol. We’re trying to connect with small local producers and our stock is developing as we find out what people are wanting to buy. The only problem is our children (Ali and Ed) have clocked there is a never-ending availability of goodies to guzzle!
During 2019 we were filmed for a channel 5 tv series – its now about to be aired on Sunday 18th October 7pm
Well this has been a pretty strange year – from a business sense, quite scary at the start of lockdown with no campers allowed, no markets but still goats producing milk. The good news was that we just got planning permission for our house so that kept Ian busy and the other great thing was how many people started to support local food delivery schemes like Somerset Local Food Direct and the Frome Food Hub as well as lots of the smaller farm shops and delis.
When 4th July hit and we were able to re-open, we had our busiest summer ever. The weather was generally kind with only a few storms putting a few people off at the end of August although I must say I’m always impressed with the resilience of campers – ‘part of the experience’ is often quoted. We were also delighted to have Andy from the Wookey Hub running his coffee stall every morning. That was a big hit so hopefully we can continue that again next year during school holidays and busier times.
Who knows what 2021 will bring but if people are happy staying in the UK for their holidays, then we’re here, ready to welcome you to our farm. We may not be able to have ‘baby goat open day’ but we will be open to visitors around kidding time. Stay safe everyone.
Following government guidelines, we are able to open again on weekend of 4th July. Easy to socially distance here at Wookey Farm as the pitches are spaced out and the meadow field is easily big enough to get more than 6m away from each other.
We’ll keep the toilets cleaned regularly. To help avoid cross-contamination, please bring your own towel and handwash, and give everybody 2m space whilst waiting for toilets or washing up tables. You can still come up and see the animals but just take it in turns to help keep our workers and other campers safe.
Look forward to seeing you all.
Sadly we will have to close the campsite until the guidance changes with regard to coronavirus. If you are already booked in with us in April, we’ll be in touch shortly to see about changing dates or refunds. Thanks for your understanding.
Dear all – just to confirm we are still open for CAMPING. Please take all the usual hand washing precautions.
VISITING the GOATS – Please wash your hands BEFORE going in to see the goats. This will help us stay healthy so we can look after our animals (Ian is asthmatic so higher risk – I can’t build a house without him!!!)
PRODUCE – we still have meat for sale in the freezer, cheese and some milk now that the goats are well under way kidding. I can deliver to your doorstop if you live around here. email me on [email protected]
Finally – I’m going to cancel the children’s farm activity day.
As you may know, we have been living here at Wookey Farm for 10 years in a ‘delightful’ mobile home. You may also know the planning permission route is a long and arduous one.
Finally, we have got the ‘approved’ stamp from Mendip Council and can start building a house later this year. A few bits and bobs to sort first and a shed load of work for Ian to get done and then we can start digging!
Our lovely house, designed by Graham Burgess, has a traditional farmhouse look with a large roof of beautiful reclaimed clay tiles. It has super thick walls and triple glazed windows and will be up to passive house standard, so a very low energy house with no heating bills. We will be installing more solar panels, probably on a barn roof rather than covering up the lovely tiles. It has a cheese cellar underneath so we can age the Burcott in a traditional way. This also means for the first year, all we may see is a very large hole in the ground but at least it will have started. Ian will be managing it all and we’re expecting it to be at least 2 years before we move in. We are very excited!
Not the best picture, but it will give you an idea
So what have we got in store for the start of 2020?
January and February are always our quiet months – the goats dry off in the last two months of pregnancy so we all have a break from milking and processing. Our little farm shop is still open with a smaller variety of produce. Still in stock is Burcott – our hard goats cheese, all the soaps (please ask for them as I’m having to store them in another building), plenty of meat – lamb chops, joints, diced goat meat, leg joints and burgers and our local apple juice.
March should see the pitter patter of tiny hooves… over 100 expected this year so come and meet them on 29th March at our ‘Baby Goat Open Day’
Ian is busy building a new, larger farm shop
Look out for a channel 5 TV documentary called ‘Our Simple Life’ which we feature in.
And who knows… could this be the year we finally start building a house?