Come and discover life on the farm
Our main farming enterprise is a herd of dairy goats, however we have a number of other animals too.
We have about 150 goats, mostly British Toggenbergs – a soft brown colour with white stripes on their faces and white ‘socks’. We also have a few Saanens (the white ones) and boer (the meat breed). The Toggenbergs produce slightly less milk than the Saanens but their milk is creamier so ideal for cheese and the other products we make from the farms milk.
We milk the goats twice a day, May to October and visitors are welcome to come and watch this (8.30am and 5pm on the dot). March to May they are milked mornings only and Christmas to March they don’t give milk. Goats are naturally very curious creatures so they love the attention from visitors and particularly like to nibble long hair, coat toggles or any loose string!
We also have a few sheep. We have a stock of wool from our previous Suffolks and Jacob sheep. The Jacobs produce beautiful wool with gorgeous natural colours. If I only knew how to knit! I’m just getting into felting. The lambs go for meat after a happy life maturing naturally on grass. We don’t force feed nuts to fatten them in time for the ‘spring lamb’ premium price market but let them develop a slower more natural flavour.
We have 2 female pigs (Blossom and Bramley) and they have one or two litters of piglets a year. We sell some as weaners and the others we fatten up for sausages and meat for the farm shop. Blossom and Bramley are Gloucester Old Spots (our favourite, pictured left – calm, friendly with personality) We have had various breeds in the past, Oxford Sandy and Blacks (very calm and chilled out, but a nightmare to load into the trailer); Berkshires (completely over excited, but very playful); ; Middle Whites (messy things but very chatty) and a few others. They eat grass, pig nuts and whey from the cheese-making. They adore it!
Our happy hens cluck about in this moveable chicken run. We have mostly got them as rescue hens from large free range commercial producers. They sell them off at a year old as they start to lay fewer eggs but still plenty enough for us. Sometimes they have been pecked a bit and lost their feathers but they soon grow back when they live in smaller groups. Its really important not to introduce one hen to an already settled group – the others will pick on it in such a cruel way. You have to introduce them gradually or putting it in at night when they are in the house sometimes works (this is where the saying “hen pecked” comes from).
And of course we can’t forget Mr Pickles, our donkey. He lives with the two sheep most of the time except in very wet winters when he comes into the barn with the goats. He’s a bit shy but if you have the patience, or some ginger nut biscuits he will be a friend for life. He also likes a scratch behind the ears.