Huge thanks for helping us raise money for the Devon Wildlife Trust

We’ve been totting up all those five pounds we give to the Devon Wildlife Trust for everyone who pays their Wheatland Farm holiday balance by BACS. And there’s a cheque in the post for £340.

Continue reading “Huge thanks for helping us raise money for the Devon Wildlife Trust”

Crediton repair cafe in action again

Ian was at the Crediton Repair Cafe again this Saturday – fixing everything from radios (a treasured old style transistor radio, brought in all the way from Torquay!), a sewing machine peddle, a band saw, a nut chopper (pictured, with a happy owner), a telephoto lens. There were also clothes and curtains getting some attention, other electronics, such as a hand blender, and some tools like pruning saws etc.

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Conservation work starts again

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

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Crediton Repair Cafe

[Ian] It was the Crediton Repair Cafe today. So I spent the morning helping fix things – something I’m very familar with, from keeping the lodges and the cottage  in good  order at Wheatland FarmContinue reading “Crediton Repair Cafe”

Apple pressing for juice and cider

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”

Digging some scrapes to treat hot tub water and boost wildlife

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”

Thanks RSPB. Can I put my sarnies in it too?

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?

Your stay raises money for wildlife – Thanks!

#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!

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 to renovate the green cones

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”

Recycled plastic kayak for the wildlife pond

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”

Eggesford Hunt and their illegally out of control dogs

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”

Reparing not replacing the pressure washer

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.

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”

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”

The restored pond fills up at the eco lodges

The bothy pond begins to fill upThe 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.

Meanwhile, we don’t suppose the frogs and newts will need a proper path, so we’ll be keeping an eye out for new arrivals here. Frogspawn should be a near certainty.

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.

Go cart joins the eco lodge bike fleet

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”

Recycling the plastic the council don’t

Recycling food plastic at Wheatland Farm's Devon eco lodges 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!

A new life for the ride-on

Refurbished ride-on toyThe 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.

Turbine blade replaced

Changing the blade on the wind turbine 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.

The cows are finally back

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.

Orchids in flower

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.

Thanks for keeping food out of the bin

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…

Watch our ‘slim the bin’ video from our environment page

Love your weeds!

Oxeye daisies

Oxeye daisies 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.