We came to the farm in April 2011, actually to a field rather than a farm. It was a number of years since the land had been farmed so the first six months were taken up with clearing the ragwort which was flourishing and with organising fencing, water, electricity and regularly attending agricultural auctions to purchase the equipment we thought we would need.
Our first livestock acquisition was our herd of Saddleback pigs which we purchased from the previous owner. He also offered the two wild boar – Boris and Alfie – but being new to farming and having heard of their reputation we declined! We have now added a Gloucester Old Spot called Gloria to the pigs and have Wally, our pedigree Saddleback boar to keep them company. We are also growing on some British lop weaners.
When thinking about what other animals we should keep on the farm we became interested in Boer goats. These are the only goats in the world bred specifically for meat and provide a very healthy option as goat meat has half the saturated fat of chicken. They are also beautiful and fascinating animals and over the last three years we have increased the herd to nearly 50 animals.
We run a flock of 160 sheep – a mixture of Suffolk crosses and Polled Dorset crosses. We have additional grazing land for the sheep but they all return for lambing early in the year.
Starting with a few hens for our own eggs, we now have 250 layers. We chose White Leghorns, Chestnut Rangers and Chalk Hill Blues which give us beautiful white, dark brown and yes – blue eggs!
We raise a smaller number of meat chickens which can grow to more than 4kg. These are ideal birds for a large family celebration.
Our annual flock of Norfolk Bronze turkeys has grown from 50 in the first year to 500 last year. These are truly free range birds and are walked out every day to the paddock and vegetable garden (which they cleared brilliantly) and back into their house at dusk.
With the completion of our butchery unit we are now in the position to prepare our own meat, sausages and poultry on the farm to your own requirements.
Mike and Anne Roberts