August is nearly over and despite the slightly gloomy weather we have been flat out with guests since we (and the rest of the hospitality industry ) opened up again after four months of shutdown. For some of our guests it is the first time they have ventured out from the sanctuary of their own four walls since the middle of March. Being able to mingle again is a gradual process for many of us. Schools are going back during the next week so there will be lots of happy children, many of whom really didn’t understand lock down from the word go. Some of our adult guests had different interpretations of the government recommendations and some of them preferred the Trump approach but here we are now with September round the corner and whatever we did or didn’t do seems to be working. Let’s hope the merchants of doom and naysayers and armchair politicians are proved wrong as Autumn sets in. Sporting events are getting going again but aren’t they strange with no live audiences yet. Even watching the TV has changed dramatically, with lots of repeats and more of us watching Netflix and Amazon and YouTube, etc. Apparently, even speed awareness tests are now done on Zoom……!

I’m not exactly sure when goslings become geese but ours are now bigger than their mum, Bianca. I think that qualifies them as Geese. They have grown at a phenomenal rate on a diet of ninety-nine percent grass. They have a double handful of mixed poultry corn twice a day, between eleven of them ( we lost one to a fox ) and are actually quite friendly as a result. In fact some of our braver guests have managed to catch them and have survived to tell the tale. I usually introduce them as ‘the most dangerous animals on the farm’ and it doesn’t take long to find out why. Even Misty the sheepdog doesn’t really like rounding them up. Pixie and Tinker, our grandchildren’s dogs, came to stay last week and had a nasty close encounter with them on the first day, so avoided them for the rest of the week. It does make you realise how resourceful a lone fox has to be to actually kidnap one and make off with it.

Tarka and Tangle, the Beagle puppies, who have come to stay for the Summer are as popular as ever. For children that aren’t used to or confident around animals they are absolutely perfect. ┬áThe children spend hours playing with them and stroking them and in fact some of the parents can often be found sitting on a bench with a puppy on their lap. Misty gets very possessive about her tennis balls and sticks that she likes to collect and share with anyone who is prepared to play ‘fetch’ with her. She growls ferociously and even bites the puppies if they dare to show any interest in them and oddly enough the nastier she is with them the more desperate they are to cosy up to her. This is perfectly normal behaviour for dogs as they sort out their pecking order even though it can appear to be nasty and vicious. Rosie, our terrier, is much more amenable and plays a strange head biting game where the puppies put their whole head in her mouth and she bites them gently, but that never ends in ‘Beagle tears’.

Matey has started to move his tail very slightly, at last. Since our accident in March he hasn’t been able to even twitch it if a fly starts biting him. Slight movement should mean that damaged nerves are recovering slowly. Horses use their tail for a variety of functions apart from discouraging flies. They usually raise them when they defecate in order to stay clean – so I have been using a hose-pipe regularly on him – which isn’t very nice for either of us. They also communicate with other horses and humans with their tails. Not as much as dogs do but still enough to be important. Also, they can control body-heat loss by raising and lowering their tails. So the fact that he is moving it slightly is very good news. I had an equine chiropractor in to have a look at him and she says he has fractured his sacrum, but having rested him for nearly six months I should have him shod and start riding him again and just see how he goes. So, fingers crossed there then.

The pigs have done well despite the miserable weather of the last couple of months. They are now in the orchard pen so their daily diet is supplemented by windfalls from the apple trees. The apple crop has been magnificent this year and at one point it looked as if the trees would collapse under the sheer weight of apples. Now the wind is beginning to dislodge them the trees should survive and the pigs will start to produce Apple flavoured pork…..!

The ponies had a slow start to the Summer with the shutdown until July 4th and had to go on a crash diet, but now we are doing pony rides every day they are all looking fit and fabulous. Moo, the miniature Shetland, is still out with Matey and is probably now clinically obese. Sampson has spent the Summer with Meggie and Echo and is looking fabulous but they are both so fat I’ve had to put the electric fence up and put them in a starvation paddock.

We have limited availability for holidays between now and November. The demand has been high for week-long holidays which is a relief with all the extra Covid cleaning.For stays shorter than a week please see our booking page for full details.The swimming pool is still busy and from next week the beaches will be much quieter. If you are still hoping to come and see us this year or want to go on the reserve list for next year please contact Tracey.

Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.