Tales of the unexpected, the ridiculous, the terrifying and of pure joy

Our first Red Deer Farm blog, by Louise, chief farmer and cook!

And so the September rains came….

We’ve been blessed with a good summer, we’ve had time together as a family and in the main the animals have behaved themselves. But today is back to work for the Mr and my little farm hands’ first day at school; surely Mother Nature will be understanding and the weather will be good and the animals kind?

It turns out not!

The heavens have opened, this isn’t a novelty though - we live on an exposed smallholding slap bang in the middle of Exmoor, I am prepared for this, I have multiple waterproofs and I’m far from afraid to use them. I set off towards the barn after my first ever school run (no I’m not crying, I have something in my eye) and I’m greeted with the smiling faces of The Empress and Gloria Salt. Oh Blast!

The Empress and Gloria Salt are our gorgeous Middle White pigs, they are out of their paddock and running amok in the barn. Thankfully they will happily follow a (full) feed bucket and they are soon back where they belong. Now they are fed and watered it’s time to feed the poultry and accidental ducklings.

The ducklings are from eggs we incubated over spring, we did not expect them all to hatch, and now it’s fair to say we have a small (very cute) army of Call Ducks. They live alongside chickens, for eggs and turkeys and geese for meat. It’s fair to say it’s one of the noisier jobs. After they are all satiated, it’s off to waste some time with the sheep.

Its a quiet time with the sheep, other than regular FEC testing at the moment the sheep are just being prepared for Dave, our epic Whiteface Dartmoor ram to be reintroduced in November. We have WFD ewes and this years’ lambs, who are a mix of our homebred WFDs and some Devon and Cornwool Longwools.

A quick check on the horses is next on the agenda. And there’s another escapee; this time its Arnold who is our semi-wild exmoor pony. He is as cute as can be, but jumps like a stag and pays little heed to the electric fence that keeps the other GGs in their place and away from too much grass. It’s at this point, about an hour into the morning routine, and at the furthest point from the house that I slip in the wet grass and take a tumble. My ‘lightweight summer waterproofs’ also choose this point to give up, after soggily chasing my pony around, I stop, sit on the wet grass and wonder why I do it.

But of course, it doesn’t take long to realise why; I have the most incredible view - I can’t see another man-built structure, I know that tonight our family meal will contain meat from animals we’ve raised ourselves and vegetables we’ve grown, I know we are making a difference to rare breeds and we are contributing to keeping these wonderful animals on the planet. I am the luckiest, and possibly muddiest person.

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