Sunday, 25 May 2014

Festival of the working Horse

At Daylesford Organics Farm summer festival they hosted the Festival of the Working Horse this year looking at horticulture. I went along to look at equipment available in the UK 

 While there I got the opportunity to try out the Prommata Kassine french equipment designed to be used with a single horse or donkey. I used it with a magnificent working stallion Brabant called Remco. He was very easy to work but toy could feel the power surge as he pulled into the collar, way over powered for our use but nice to experience.
Also on show was the only Pioneer Homesteader so far used in the country. Here demonstrated by the owner Ed Hamer from Chagfood CSA who has been a forerunner in using horse traction in the UK.

Beds formed using a combination of the Kassine, Homesteader and a borrowed roller seen at the bottom of the page.

 Then Michael went three up with Remco and his two cobs to demonstrate ploughing. With three Brabant he says he can plough Three acres per day, the traditional view is two horses can plough one acre per day. His Plough is Amish made like the pioneer based on an original British design.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

More on Jethro

We had a visit from Roxanne who mans our stall once a week and she took this pictures of jethro and his Mum now a week old

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Changing climate affecting beekeeping

This year we are experiencing yet another change in weather patterns. We have had almost no frost and a season which has started 4 weeks earlier than average and is perhaps 7weeks ahead of last year. Colonies have been swarming in higher numbers and earlier than I have ever known in 30 years of keeping bees. When I lived in the South of England 20 years ago we were always surprised to see a swarm in April yet this years 200 miles north I have 70% of my colonies making preparations to swarm.
The lesson seems to be that we have to ready for any eventuality and that past experience doesn't necessarily give us any clues to future patterns. We wait and see what the rest of the season brings.

Another first for me, I was working hives in Herefordshire and I moved an empty hive with its floor went back to pick up more equipment and came across this

Its I think a smooth snake non verminous but that didn't stop him doing the full Cobra act as I got near, luckily he hung around long enough for me grab my phone and take the picture.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Latest development of the farm

We've  have been off line for the past year while working out how to take the farm forward, we considered loads of options including concentrating exclusively on retail, just growing salad or using more labour and expanding what we already grow.

The final decision is to keep the sheep but reduce the number of breeding ewes, reduce the bees to around 25 colonies, maintain the laying hens at around 100 birds and to increase the range of vegetables grown including more direct sown crops. to this end we also decided to convert our cultivation from tractor to horse traction. 

This obviously cannot be done overnight so the plan was to keep the tractor for another 12 months while we train our working horse. But first buy your horse.

We spent many months looking at breeds and individuals with advice from multifarious sources. Sussesx, Comtois, Ardennes, Dales were researched and viewed until finally deciding on a DalesX 4 year old, untrained but very biddable.

Here she is, named Boo on her passport big chunky girl as you can see, this is more significant than we thought.

We get her home all is well we start researching suitable equipment and training methods.

Then one morning this happens

OK we did have an idea before little Jethro was born but it was am unexpected bonus, although this means there will be a delay of at least 4 months while our Mare is on maternity leave. We will update on Jethros progress.