August Bank holiday weekend was absolutely glorious – now it’s nearly September, the days are drawing in and evenings are quite chilly. The ponies are losing their Summer coats and apples are dropping off the trees. The field mushrooms have again been fabulous and I’ve never seen so many nuts on the Hazel bushes. The forecast is good and apparently there is another heat-wave due.
We had a fabulous day out on Saturday. As a thank you for having the grand-children’s dogs when they went on holiday we were treated to a family day out on Lundy Island. Trace’ has always wanted to go. I went about fifty years ago and had a dreadful crossing and consequently never went back again. Things have definitely improved since then – especially having a docking pier rather than a rowing boat shuttle system. We were lucky to have a calm sea and perfect visibility, as well as ‘wall-to-wall sunshine’ for the eleven mile trip. In fact, the weather was so settled that a young lady from Bideford swam across on Friday to raise funds and awareness for Surfers Against Sewage campaign to reduce plastic in the sea. We managed to cover half the Island at a leisurely walk, have a picnic, watch some grey seals, climb to the top of the old lighthouse and check out the Marisco Tavern. We missed out on the Puffins so we might have to return at some stage. I can definitely say it’s a wonderful day out, but you do need to book the ferry in advance so you have to take ‘pot luck’ on the weather, and it is a twelve hour round trip. Peaka and Boo, our two Gloucester Old Spot X pigs went off to the sausage factory this morning. They were definitely the noisiest pair of pigs we have ever had and it will seem strange not to hear them grumbling every time they see a passer-by. We had nearly run out of sausages in the farm shop so that problem will be solved next week. I’m not sure what to do with all the windfalls off the apple trees, now. We have two weaners coming tomorrow, but they won’t eat a bucketful of apples every day. The horses and ponies can eat a few and some will store if they are in good condition. Some of them are the size of melons though. I can hardly slice them up with my pen-knife. Even Balti and Snowy ( our two goats ) are beginning to avoid them. We haven’t made a start on the Bramlys yet ! The Blackberries are amazing this year as well, so it looks like a good ‘Blackberry and Apple ‘ pie season for us also. The only ‘exception to the rule’ this year being the Victoria plum tree which hasn’t had one single flower or fruit on it. We can only assume that there was a hard frost on the day the buds should have opened and they completely failed. Our Swallow season has suddenly and dramatically improved. We have been joined by a flock of about one hundred more birds! I have no idea where they came from or why they suddenly appeared. We have had one solitary pair since the end of April and they have been as busy as bees so far, but now the air is alive with birds swooping and harvesting bugs all day long. Our little island of grass and grazing animals creates an oasis of insects in an otherwise barren desert of forage-maize, which is a lifeless mono-culture surrounding us this year. Maize is wind-pollinated and doesn’t require insects. Now that most cows are housed all year round and zero-grazed, more forage crops are grown to feed them throughout the year. History will judge whether this system benefits the environment we inhabit – but it does nothing for the Swallows and their insect eating cohorts. We are in the last week of the school Summer holiday season. The weather has been good throughout, with ample sunshine to heat the swimming-pool water and enough rain to encourage maximum growth and ripening. Much of the rain seems to have fallen during the night-time leaving hot, sunny days, which is perfect for nearly everyone. In fact, our only disgruntled nocturnal visitors are …….the Little Owls ……and don’t they complain when it rains at night. Some of our guests almost whinge about them, but when they understand what the noise is and why they make it they become much more relaxed. The Owls only want to hunt for bugs and slugs and snails and small rodents but, even with their highly developed hearing and night-vision, wind- and rain-swept nights aren’t ideal. So they screech and howl all night long.
Back to business, we are now doing weekend breaks and short breaks. We have limited availability including October half – term and then we close until next March. The beaches are quiet,our pool is still open and warm, and the animals are still here and need feeding twice a day. If you are interested, contact Tracey.
Anyway, I must go and ‘fix a few things’ – it’s definitely been one of those weeks….. So…. Cheers for now, Farmer Chris.