The New Year starts as we mean to go on at Wheatland Farm! Getting out there and looking after the Devon countryside. Today’s job was clearing ‘brash’ from near Honeysuckle Lodge …Continue reading “Conservation work starts again”
It’s a bumper year for apples at Wheatland Farm – we have so many some of the branches are breaking off the trees. So we spent a day pressing some for juice and possibly cider (or that bit could go horribly wrong – we should know by early 2019!). Continue reading “Apple pressing for juice and cider”
We’ve been digging some scrapes that will become mini reed beds – these will help us turn the eco lodge hot tub water to a wildlife advantage! Continue reading “Digging some scrapes to treat hot tub water and boost wildlife”
Well done RSPB for the compostable bag on our magazine! That’s much easier to recycle than the previous bag, even if we did take those to the supermarket recycling point.
One question though – is it food safe for re-use before it reaches the compost caddy?
#30DaysWild No. 26. We want to say a big big thanks to all you lovely guests who pay for your stay at Wheatland Farm by BACS – the lower banking charge means we can give £5 to the Devon Wildlife Trust for every booking paid that way. Continue reading “Your stay raises money for wildlife – Thanks!”
The cows are back! Six young cows from Higher Punchardon Farm. Their job is to graze Lower Newland Moor (the field next to the lodges – the field with the turbine) and Popehouse Moor, our Site of Special Scientific Interest. That’s quite a big munch for 6 relatively young cows, but that’s the point – low levels of grazing so the grass is kept in check and the flowers still get a chance. Continue reading “The cows are back!”
Time for a bit of bike maintenance. George is learning some skills as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award, and we’ve certainly got plenty of bikes to be working on! Continue reading “Getting the fleet ready for summer”
It’s a yucky job, but it has to be done occassionally. We’re rennovating the green cones. All credit where it’s due, that’s Ian doing the heavy digging. Our five green biodigesters and 2 wormeries take all the food waste from the guest accommodation at Wheatland Farm, and they work hard! Continue reading “Time to renovate the green cones”
It’s here – a fab kayak to add to the paddle boat and board on the wildlife pond. And it’s made out of recycled plastic. We’d been meaning to get another boat, and got the idea from BBC Spotlight. Continue reading “Recycled plastic kayak for the wildlife pond”
We wanted to thank everyone for their support over the issue of the Eggesford Hounds chasing fox trails across Wheatland Farm on 13th January 2018. Continue reading “Eggesford Hunt and their illegally out of control dogs”
Mowing, bramble bashing, path clearing, tree felling… Continue reading “Conservation tasks in November 2017”
Would you belive it – we get all ready to clean the lodge verandas with a loaned pressure washer, go to turn it on, and nothing. So frustrating! Even more so when the screws are hidden down long plastic tunnels and it’s hard to take the machine apart. When we got inside it was obvious what had gone wrong – that familiar burnt wiring smell.
We looked online. It’s at least £120 to replace the whole thing, and most of it’s fine. Such a waste. So how to replace the part? Turns out they still make them – in Easter Europe. And they still sell them – on Ebay. But only in Australia!
£25 and a wait versus £120 for a new one. Thankfully, the post was pretty prompt. We’re back up to full strength now.
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”
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”
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”
The new pond at our Devon eco lodges is filling up… Well, not that new. It’s part of what was the slurry pit system when Wheatland Farm was a working dairy farm. It was filled with junk when we first arrived, and after clearing it we let it get overgrown because we didn’t have time to make anything of it. Now we’ve dug the pond out a bit and sown some marginal plants around it. Next spring we’ll clear a better path. It’s just below the fishing pond and makes a lovely out of the way spot for people as well as wildlife.
There’s also an old circular concrete structure that we want to turn into some kind of bothy or folly… More on that as it unfolds.
How many ponds is that now then?
Well, there’s the fishing pond, the main wildlife pond, the woodland magic pond, the seasonal pond we hope to turn into a reedbed, a small pond below the withy, a pond in the gravel garden at the farm house, and the tiny ‘ironic pond’, complete with plastic duck and waterlilies by our back door. They do say that if you want to attract wildlife just add water.
Here comes the new go cart! Everyone should have a go cart hill in their childhood. George is the main technician on this one with a bit of help from Ian and some additions from Euan. Continue reading “Go cart joins the eco lodge bike fleet”
Since Torridge District Council don’t recycle food plastics (other than bottles) we save yours up and take them to the nearest recycling centre that can handle them – Okehampton for us. So thanks to all you lovely guests for keeping them clean and easy to deal with!
The toddler ride on toy has been given a new lease of life. It’s done many years of faithful service but the old plastic body had seen better days. So it has been reborn in wood, with some taps eyes, a blue smile, and new antennae.
The summery weather means we’ve finally been able to change the blade on the wind turbine that largely powers our eco lodges. We’ve had the new blade sitting ready for ages now, but last time we tried, the ground was still too wet. This week a team winched the new blade into place.
The old blade developed a crack and was replaced under warranty. But it should still make a mighty fine dragonfly bench at the end of the turbine walk…. That’s a project for this summer. Let’s hope the weather holds.
Thankfully Andrew and Fiona’s TB movement restriction has finally been lifted and they have been able to move some of their cows to Wheatland Farm. Just in the nick of time for us as we need to be grazing Popehouse Moor and Lower Newland Moor for 10 weeks over the summer. It’s this light grazing that maintains the flower rich grassland here, including the orchids in our earlier post.
So eight young cows arrived in two livestock ‘boxes’ pulled by tractors on Friday morning – just as Maggie was returning from taking Euan to school on the tandem. Often the cows are simply herded down the lane from Higher Punchardon Farm, but this time there weren’t enough people to manage that.
The summer task of ‘lookering’ begins now, ie checking on the cows everyday. They’re a bit skittish, but hopefully will soon get used to us. Apparently a handful of ‘cow cake’ is the trick.
Every year we get a carpet of heath spotted orchids flowering on Popehouse Moor SSSI. Here’s a short clip of some of them in early July 2016. The are such a delight, and confirm our conservation grazing is working. This is one of the highlights of our wildlife year, so if you’re staying in the eco lodges do take a stroll onto Popehouse Moor (or ask us to take you for a guided walk). As well as the orchids it’s a-buzz with pollinating insects and nectar sipping butterflies. And if you can’t be here right now we still thank you for your visit at other times of the year – it’s your stays that make it possible to manage our small Devon farm for wildlife.
Thanks also to Natural England and the HLS scheme for ongoing support, and the Devon Wildlife Trust for always being on hand to offer practical advice.
Wheatland Farm is a conservation project in action. This month: mowing, pond management, netttles and thistles, haircut for the drive, Evie ave, summer grazing, ivy trim. Continue reading “Land management July 2016”
Many thanks to our Polish guests who left Balebarn Lodge this morning to fly home. It was great to see you enjoying the fishing, the bikes and the football. You were lovely recyclers, and we particularly thank you for keeping this lot out of the bin. Everyone over caters on holiday, and it’s not always practical to take the excess with you, but we just hate seeing food, often imported from far off places and grown by under-paid workers, ending up in UK landfill sites.
This lot will be put to better use. Looks like it’s baked beans for lunch for starters…
May and June are the months when we get the most from the ‘weeds’ growing in the old farm yard. These oxeye daisies have seeded themselves in the cracks and accumulated soil. They’ve been flowering outside Otter Cottage all month, and when they’re going over we’ll collect some of the seed and sow it in the meadow. Most of our gardening tends to be selective weeding these days. If it thrives and it’s pretty, then it survives – especially if it’s native.
And if you’re interested in mini-wildlife as well as flowers, the daisies are a great place to spot a stunning white crab spider laying in wait for an unwary fly.
Wheatland Farm is a conservation project in action. This month: mowing, ponds, nettles, driveway part 1, Evie ave haircut, treeguards. Continue reading “Land management and conservation, June 2016”
Bike Week UK 2016 starts today. We hope you’re not feeling this rusty! We’re offering a prize to help you get Devon into cycling, via Love to Ride. It’s a weekend in our Nuthatch Lodge at the beginning of October. Hopefully it’ll still be good weather for biking Devon’s lovely lanes and taking a breather at country pubs. Register with Love to Ride for a chance to win this and other great prizes. You can use their app to record your rides this week and set yourself challenges.
And what will Wheatland Farm be up to this week? We’ll be upping our usual cycling quota:
We’ll be biking Euan to school on the tandem – something we usually do in the summer.
Maggie will be biking for exercise as well – maybe we can blog our 45 min route.
Ian is going to build himself a road bike from old bike bits we’ve got lying around – and take it for a ride.
George will join Maggie on a Sunday cycle… “but you always go so far… I’ll just go up and down the drive…” OK so we’ll have to work on that one. But at least he can bike to judo and back.
What will you do?
On Friday the Winkleigh ‘Green group’ came for an evening wander around the farm. It’s an informal set up where anyone can drop by, and about 12 people turned up. We took a walk around and explained how we manage the land for wildlife rather than food, and how the holiday accommodation finances that, then all sat around for a bowl of soup and a chat. Summer flowers are coming out, and we found one heath spotted orchid, but not carpets of them yet!
Our recent visit by Natural England has produced a good report for Popehouse Moor’s management, saying it’s still in ‘favourable’ condition and that all that scrub bashing and grazing is paying off. Lower Newland Moor, where the turbine is, is also improving with our advisors noting better plant diversity including ragged robin and bog stitchwort. The visit has meant we can apply for a derogation to weed wipe the rushes that are becoming more dominant – but that won’t be until next year. This year we need to graze, then cut the rushes in late September. Next spring, assuming the rushes get away before the grass and the ground isn’t too wet, we can ‘wipe’ the new shoots with a herbicide and leave the grasses and flowers untouched.