A big breath of fresh air: 30 Days Wild No. 12

#30DaysWild No. 12. Our air monitoring results are back from Friends of the Earth. Just 2.47 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). That’s good and clean. Deep breath everyone… Continue reading “A big breath of fresh air: 30 Days Wild No. 12”

Sky gazing: 30 Days Wild No. 11

#30DaysWild No. 11. It would have been Maggie’s Mum’s 80th birthday. So we all trooped down to Popehouse Moor and lay in the grass, among the orchids. The kids had orange juice, the adults wine and beer, and we remembered all the good stuff Anne did for us over the years.

A very local Devon brew: 30 Days Wild No. 10

Does a glass of your own home grown, home brewed organic cider count as a ‘random act of wildness’ for 0? It had better do after a June Saturday of cleaning the lodges and cottage! Continue reading “A very local Devon brew: 30 Days Wild No. 10”

Freshly Painted Lady: 30 Days Wild No. 9

#30DaysWild No. 9. The bluebells are pretty much over now, even our slightly late ones. But this Painted Lady looks  freshly minted. Slightly damp days can be good for spotting butterfly and dragonfly as they tend to sit still for longer!

An hour for the community trees: 30 Days Wild No. 8

Day 8 of #30DaysWild – the random act of wildness was an hour of volunteering on the community trees near the sports centre, while the kids were doing Judo. The soil is rich here and the tussocky grasses and docks are giving the trees a run for their money. So the scythe comes out again to try to give the young trees a bit of breathing space.  Cant do it all though – it’s too big a task, especially at this time of year. . Back to you and the bigger group Kim! We’ll come and help again.

Scything the drive 30 Days Wild No. 7

June is when we have to start cutting back some of the verges, and yesterday’s gales have hastened that need: the long grass gets a bit flattened. So it’s time for the annual scything haircut along the drive. Thanks this time not only to our 2 lovely engineering student volunteers but also to guests Hamish and Colin, who lent a hand! Continue reading “Scything the drive 30 Days Wild No. 7”

First flight… 30 Days Wild No. 6

The gales are making it a hellava day for a first flight – looks like this baby robin is wondering if it made the right move in leaving the nest… Could this be the ragged robin’s next brood? We must put out more mealworms.


#30dayswild no. 6!

Mr Toad. 30 Days Wild 2017 No. 5

This fella was hiding out in the undergrowth when we were doing some nettle clearing this morning. We probably should have put him in the poly tunnel to eat the slugs – but on the other hand there’s a couple of residents there already. Continue reading “Mr Toad. 30 Days Wild 2017 No. 5”

Pipit nest? 30 Days Wild 2017 No. 4

Today for #30dayswild we went down to the magic pond and tried to light the bubbles. Sadly it didn’t work all that well – not as well as last time when we collected the gas in a bucket.

But on the way back through the grasses a bird flew up from a bramble bush right in front of us. That’s always strong clue… Continue reading “Pipit nest? 30 Days Wild 2017 No. 4”

Exe Estuary Trail 30 Days Wild 2017 No. 3

30 Days Wild No. 3. OK, we admit we didn’t actually do this today, because it’s change over day for the eco lodges and we were far too busy cleaning. Our random act of wildness today was a cup of coffee while watching the bumble bees. George put the video together of our cycle trip last Thursday. Continue reading “Exe Estuary Trail 30 Days Wild 2017 No. 3”

A crab spider lies in wait. 30 days wild 2017 No. 2

Day 2 of #30dayswild. It’s a bit damp out there today, but not too wet for crab spiders. I look for these every June on the oxeye daisies, especially on the wildflower bank by the pond in front of Balebarn lodge. This is one of the biggest I’ve seen. Continue reading “A crab spider lies in wait. 30 days wild 2017 No. 2”

Time to jump in the pond! 30 days wild 2017 No. 1

It’s June and it’s 30 days wild, in support of the Wildlife Trust’s campaign. Every day we’ll be doing something a bit wild, whether counting butterflies, bird watching, making stuff or in this case immersing ourselves in nature… Continue reading “Time to jump in the pond! 30 days wild 2017 No. 1”

Managing down the rushes

Well, we’ve done it. And with a heavy heart because it involved using herbicides. The Devon Wildlife Trust came yesterday and weed wiped Lower Newland Moor to control the rushes that have been taking over so much in recent years. Continue reading “Managing down the rushes”

Hospice nightwalk 2017

Yesterday’s rain cleared away in time for the North Devon Hospice’s Nightwalk. We were encouraged to be colourful, and that’s Farm Shop Fiona in the middle there, putting the rest of us to shame! Continue reading “Hospice nightwalk 2017”

Helping out the Plough Arts Centre

We’re on The Plough Arts Centre’s list for band accommodation – no charge. It’s nice to be able to help small enterprises bring the arts to rural Devon and great to meet new people and look after them on their travels. Yesterday The Lowest Pair and their tour driver stayed over in Beech Lodge after a gig in Torrington. Continue reading “Helping out the Plough Arts Centre”

Another donation to the Devon Wildlife Trust – thanks to you

Thank you all you lovely lodge and cottage guests who have paid your holiday balance by BACS. It keeps our costs down and means we can donate £5 from every such booking to the Devon Wildlife Trust, whose staff have given us so much advice over the years. Continue reading “Another donation to the Devon Wildlife Trust – thanks to you”

Ragged Robin

Robin with meal worms on the wall at Wheatland Farm's Devon eco lodges

Robin with meal worms on the wall at Wheatland Farm's Devon eco lodgesI so feel for this robin – its chicks are running it completely ragged. It has at least 2 in different parts of the garden, hiding in bushes and squealing for food. The robin eyes me through the glass and practically begs for more mealworms, and who could resist?The chicks themselves, when you catch a glimpse, look plump and just a little bit smug, if that’s possible. Or am I projecting?

The stoats are back in the garden

This amazing little stoat is peeping out of the Apex of the welly store room at Wheatland Farm’s Devon Eco Lodges. Seems like we weren’t the only people looking for Easter eggs in the garden this Sunday. Look at those eyes! This creature means business. The birds certainly know they need to look out. All hell breaks loose when the stoat is around, with blackbirds robins and great tits all shrilling their alarm calls and hopping around in the bushes where they think the stoat is. But sometimes they get it wrong, and an orange streak appears somewhere else leaping through the grass with the black tip of its tail showing. In fact, the stoats we’ve seen out and about look a lot more orange than this one, but probably the face is darker than the back – unless it’s a different individual.  We saw stoats often in May last year, but never got a picture. These were shot from the ‘balcony’ of Euan’s new treehouse.


Fingers crossed for the nuthatches which are also using the garden – they mud up their nest entry hole to keep stoats out, but I reckon the stoat could get in at the moment.

The orange tips are on the wing

April is when the butterflies start taking to the wing. This one is an orange tip – the males have the orange tips – and they are real heralds of spring. They are first seen about the time the cuckoo flower or lady’s smock appears – another early spring flower in the fields. Right now they are fluttering across Popehouse Moor and Lower Newland Moor (the turbine field). On Popehouse Moor we’ve been finishing up some work on a ‘butterfly friendly clearing’ recently, but that’s more for the speckled woods and hopefully fritillaries.

The swallows are back for 2017

Yay! The swallows are back! George spotted one over Otter Cottage yesterday evening so now it’s time to bake the annual cake. That’s the first one on the farm for this year though they have been around this part of North Devon for a few days now.

Time to prune back the ivy so they can get into Ian’s workshop where they usually nest.


The pic is not this year of course – it’s only been a glimpse so far. These are young ones from a previous year’s nest in the barn. But if you want to play along with ‘spot the swallow’, test your skills on Geoge’s 20 second verification video…
Summer is on its way folks!

Here’s looking back to swallows last year, in 2015 and fledging in 2013.

Blackbirds are nesting in the ivy

blackbird chicks in the nest

blackbird chicks in the nest These blackbird chicks are looking pretty perky now. They’re in the ivy in the old farmyard at Wheatland Farm. The parents are frantically busy gathering food for them. We’ve been putting out dried mealworms (lots of protein) and keeping the teacup fat balls topped up (lots of energy). Soon we hope to see fully grown fledglings pestering their parents for food and begging to be fed out and about in the garden. I always feel a genuine empathy with blackbirds…

Meldon Reservoir to Black A Tor Copse National Nature Reserve and Black Tor

Black a Tor Copse and Black Tor make a lovely Dartmoor walk from Meldon Reservoir. We last did it in late March on a sunny day – gorgeous! Continue reading “Meldon Reservoir to Black A Tor Copse National Nature Reserve and Black Tor”

Cycle path clean up

This is Winkleigh cycle path, running from the sports centre back to the village and much used by dog walkers, kids going to the play park, and of course Maggie and Euan cycling from Wheatland Farm to school and back. It was relatively new when we first moved to Winkleigh, about 10 years ago, but the grass has been growing over it slowly ever since. We’d been looking at it for ages and wondering how wide it really ought to be, and whether it would be worth making an exploratory cut back to find the edge. So when we saw Andrew Ware, a parish councillor, getting stuck in with a shovel, it was time to join in. It took four of us a couple of mornings and now you could drive a coach and horses down it. A great improvement!