Farm Life

Farm Life

"Julians" is a 200 acre Beef farm, nestling along the River Torridge, in West Putford.

Our farm includes grassland, for both grazing and silage/hay making, Culm grassland, River frontage, Woodlands (both established and newly planted), a ruinous farmstead and a very special Neolithic Longbarrow, a scheduled English heritage monument and one of only 2 in Devon.

We have changed our system over the last couple of year, moving away from breeding our own cattle to buying in baby calves.  We buy in 40 calves, of about 1 week old from a farmer near Woolsery, who milks dual purpose cows.  This means their calves are of a very good quality for beef. We buy the calves that are sired by a British Blue bull and we keep them from 1 week of age to about 20-24 months of age.  We then sell them through market as Forward Stores and we usually do very well, occasionally topping the market with the best animal!

In 2014 we entered a Higher Level Stewardship scheme, which has meant a large amount of scrub clearance work has been done on our Culm grassland to open it up and make it grazable again.  A lot of fencing has also been done and the sites are looking fantastic.  This HLS scheme has also enabled us to have an Educational Access clause, which means we host Primary School Educational Visits.  These are great fun and the children learn so much about a huge variety of things.  In 2016 we registered as a Care Farm with Care Farming UK and have gone through their Code of Practice (more paperwork!).  We run 2 Care Farming sessions a week now, with students from Holsworthy Community College and also Okehampton Community College.  The students come to us for a block of 5 weeks, 1 morning a week and are responsible for rearing the calves that morning. We also have some amazing sponsors who come out to visit the students too and tell them about what they do and we are linked to them.  Our sponsors include:  Smallridge Bros Agricultural Engineers, Penbode Vet Group, Harpers Feeds, Kivells Market and Devon Wildlife Trust.  Mole Valley Farmers have also helped by supplying overalls/wellies/gloves/caps and publish a report of our visits in their monthly newsletter.

We make our own Silage, which we then feed to the animals in the winter months. Silage is usually made at the beginning on June. We need about 3-4 nice dry sunny days in which to make good quality silage. If the weather is dry and sunny for longer, then we will make hay too. Hay is fantastic for older meadows as the process shakes lots of seeds out of the grass and onto the ground, where it then germinates and grows, replenishing the meadow and enhancing the crop for the future.

We have a range of our own machinery on the farm, including 2 tractors, a dung spreader, mower, grass turner, fertiliser spreader and roller. We hire in the contractors when it comes to silage time and for any baling that needs doing.

In April 2013, we got a grant from the Woodland Trust to plant 1100 trees in the steep slopes of 2 of our fields. These slopes are adjacent to a small stream which is a tributary to the River Torridge and were perfect areas for the new trees. We planted a selection of Downey Birch, Rowan, Sessile Oak, Pedunculate Oak, Quick Thorn and Alder. After each tree was planted, a protective guard was placed over the tree and a stake was hammered into the ground to support the guard. In the autumn, we then strim all around the trees and pull out any grass growing up the guards. This helps the trees to grow without the competition for water/food/sunlight from the grass/weeds.

Sometimes we also have pigs on the farm. They are usually a Saddleback cross Gloucester Old Spot pigs and come from a nearby farm. We have them in when they are about 8 weeks old and weaned from their mother. We feed them a porridge, made from warm water, dried milk powder and rolled barley flakes. They love it! They also get some pig nuts and silage too. We keep them for another 3 months and then they go the abattoir. We then put the meat in our freezer.

Like cattle, pigs also have ear tags with a special number on them, called a Holding Number. This helps to identify which farm the pigs have come from, as each Farms Holding Number is unique.

You may spot some White Doves flying around, they live in the rafters on the cows Cubical Building. Each spring they have chicks.

Wildlife wise, we also have Rabbits, Foxes and Deer. Fallow Deer are often spotted in our fields and Red Deer have been seen occasionally. We have a big Rabbit Warren in the hedgerow in West Park field. Owls can sometimes be heard Hooting in the night time but are rarely seen. Plenty of birds of prey are around, Buzzards and Hawks are often seen either sitting on gate posts or circling the sky as they watch out for prey.