We have always had working horses on site. A family of four coloured gypsy cobs were rescued and brought here, with hopes of training up the two youngsters to take over. The two parents have retired and moved elsewhere and training has begun on the other two so that they can help us with carting, wood extraction and other jobs. We also have four dairy goats, a good flock of chickens and ducks as well as three rowdy geese. We currently have one colony of bees after not having a bee keeper for a couple of years, we’re hoping to increase this over the next couple of years. There are compromises involved in any animal farming system and we try to meet these in an ethical manner that everyone can agree with.
We have cats to keep the rodents in check and some of us have dogs.
The land is fantastic for wildlife, we have a huge range of residents including badgers, foxes, owls, dormice, bats, buzzards, frogs and newts.
We probably have less animals in total than most farms, but we look at our animals differently to most farms. We do not push our animals to unnatural limits. All the stock is free-range and what we ask of them seems to us a fair exchange for their food, security and comfort.
We milk our nanny goats morning and evening, which is enough for all the goat milk drinkers plus enough extra from Spring until Autumn to make fresh cheese. The chickens have a large enclosure where they are free-range and they produce enough eggs in the longer days for all our needs.
The ducks are Khaki Campbells, highly trained slug-killers, which patrol the organic gardens keeping them relatively pest-free. The dogs and cats are family pets, but their very presence around the yard tends to keep foxes and other predators away from the poultry.
We rent some of our land for short periods to local farmers to graze their animals. We raise geese to graze the orchards and to generate a bit of income by selling young birds. Some of us eat meat which is produced as a by-product of the milk and eggs, that is to say excess billy goats, cockerels and ganders.
More recently we have been eating wild animals and fish which have been hunted or caught. In general, however, communal meals are vegetarian.