Spring 2020- lockdown

The last few weeks have been surreal. Lockdown at Haye Farm has meant we see few people; no visitors at the sleeping barn, no-one fishing, and friends and family keeping social distancing. The animals, however, respond to the Spring in their usual fashion. Lambs and calves happy with their mothers, enjoying the warm sunshine and the grassy fields. We love to see the hens sunbathing, and scratching about looking for a tasty morsel or two. The bees are visiting every flower for Spring nectar, and hopefully the Queen is beginning to provide brood for this season. We are very happy to see the first swallow return. We are looking forward to seeing you at Haye hopefully before too long, but for now, keep safe and well. All good wishes from Stuart and Sheila and the team x

February Promise of Spring

Storm Ciara is currently raging, but a couple of days ago I was basking in warm sunshine, and had a little potter about around the garden. Blossoms are beginning to show their faces. The first (and my favourite) are the snowdrops, and I was so happy to see the bees stocking up on nectar, unperturbed by the nibbled petals. The presence of pollen in her pollen baskets is a welcome sight, as this is important protein for the Spring brood. The hellebores look particularly strong, that pink one is a stunning and welcome blaze of colour. The yellow of forsythia is a bright ray of sunshine in the garden. I was really surprised to see an early clematis in bloom too. A yellow rose and a calendula blossom had also survived the Winter so far. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything recovers after Ciara’s visit, but in the meantime it’s time to close the Winter out and enjoy the warmth indoors.

Clear and cold

When it’s icy the ground is firm and the grass crunchy.  The sheep don’t seem to mind the frozen grass, nor the frozen apples that remain on the ground. It’s quiet on the farm today; the animals peacefully potter about their business with hardly a sound.

Icy crisp days make the air so clear. The reflections down at the pools are beautiful: – the  delicate lace of tree branches only seen in Winter are perfectly mirrored in the cold water.

Jay likes a little ice with her water – it must taste very good as she picks the iciest puddle to taste 🙂

There’s something special about walking in the cold air surrounded by the peaceful animals and the sleeping trees. It’s a perfect activity for this time of year,  but now as the light falls I’m going to take off the wellies and enjoy a cup of steaming tea.

Autumn is moving along

As well as the drop in temperature, and the tree colours blazing, there is a lot going on at the farm. Some of it expected and some of it a surprise! The expected is of course the apple and pear harvest. There are many interesting varieties of fruits at Haye. All are grown without the use of sprays in untreated orchards, as nature intended. The orchards are grazed by the cattle and sheep, manuring as they go bringing nutrients to the grazing and the trees. We recently sold a few apples at the local Greener Living Fair – they were soon snapped up.
Also expected is the appearance of funghi. They are popping up all over the farm, many different sorts can be seen. They are important in soil health, transporting critical nutrients and breaking down dead material returning their complex compounds to the soil.  They are also food for some, as you can see by the nibbling that has gone on here!
And then of course, the unexpected!  You may remember the large mounds of compost breaking down ready to be added to the grazing land.  Suddenly over the top of the hills appeared these! Not just for Halloween – these are going to be delicious, and hopefully after curing they’ll last a good while into the Winter.

Make it a September to Remember.

September is upon us, the Summer heat has changed to a balmy warmth that humans and animals alike can enjoy. September is the time for gathering, feeding, and preparing. The hay is harvested, the fruit is ripening, the fish are basking in the September waters, the swallows are still feeding young and the fledglings are learning to swoop and feed. I have tried so hard to get a photo of a swallow on the wing but they are so swift! We love this time of year here at Haye. Come and visit and share it with us, whether that’s staying at the sleeping barn, calling in for freshly picked fruit, or a spot of fishing.

Hay at Haye

The gateway to the hay field is framed by a beautiful wild rose.
It’s June and the mix of rain and sun has helped the grasses. Very soon the hard work of cutting, drying and baling the hay for winter feed will begin. A light application of home grown compost in 2017 has improved yield, and in amongst the grasses you’ll find a good selection of meadow flowers. Vetch, yellow rattle, selfheal, common knapweed, ox eye daisies, white orchid, plantain, and the stunningly beautiful pink orchid. When the grasses are cut, they are left to dry out before baling. They are then turned with a “tedder”, lifting and allowing better aeration and drying, which also allows seeds to drop to the ground providing for new growth.

Compost corner

Everything needs checking to get the best out of it, and compost is no exception. To give you some background, adding mycelium (fungal networks) to the soil helps retain nutrients, moisture and helps plant life become more robust and disease resistant. Stuart embarked on a programme of adding compost to the grazing land a while ago to support and strengthen it. He decided to “grow his own” in true farming fashion. Tree surgeons now drop off their shredded tree waste, and over time animal manure is mixed into it for quicker composting, some is left to slowly break down. Once the compost is well broken down, it is spread on the land. Stuart has already “seeded” a number of fields, this Autumn will mean most of the grazing land will have been composted. In these photos, you can see the range of temperatures of the different composts. If it gets too hot it’s turned to get the best results.

Down but not out

A storm took this Conference pear right out of the ground. The thought was to leave it to return to the earth, providing an insect habitat for many years. Tenacious P had other ideas! I can’t work out how much root is in the ground, it looks like hardly anything – but the tree is still very much alive and producing fruit.

New residents are settling in

There are six new calves at Haye, all girls so far. One was born in a quiet corner away from the rest of the herd, which is where we found Mum and calf just after she the event. Stuart moved closer to make sure all was well, a quiet and gentle approach and just a careful look at the two. All being fine we left them to get to know each other. The newly born are not the only new arrivals. We took on some rescue chickens, some in better condition than others. We lost two after a few days. Despite our sadness, we were comforted that they had had some time in the sunshine, and known some tender loving care. The rest are gaining in strength, and feathers! Some have bald patches with dark quills now appearing. They are inquisitive, mostly fearless, and huge fun. They are learning how to use the ramp and can climb up to bed now – when they are good and ready! One has a particular fascination with the ring I wear,and likes to peck at it. They make the most lovely cooing sounds as they potter about scratching. It’s great to see them sunbathing, wings stretched out to make the most of the warmth. We shall be hanging up interesting treats for them to peck at, and I’ve heard they like fresh mint in their coop – as this has made an appearance in the vegetable bed they will definitely have some to try!

New life, new projects

The lambs are arriving! Eleven baby Wiltshire Horn sheep so far, with Stuart taking a hands off approach ready to assist if necessary. So far the ewes have had no problems delivering. A set of triplets arrived, always a special event, and needing some extra support. The largest of the triplets has been put to suckle with a mum of one, giving all three little lambs the best start.
The orchards are springing into life too – plum blossom is out now – and in amongst all this activity preparations for extra water supplies for the animals are also well under way. The chicken coop has also had a Spring clean, ready for new residents after a long time empty. It’s a beautiful Spring day, busy busy for the Haye Team – but no better place to be!