August 2020 Farm Round Up

caen hill locks

Perhaps not the best August weather on record but that didn’t stop our guests in the holiday cottage having fun – lots of BBQs and exploring the local area – and some lovely reviews.  Nice to see everyone out enjoying life, many of them would never normally holiday in Wiltshire in August but perhaps that’s a positive out of the lockdown problems – people have discovered that you don’t have to fly around the world to have a great holiday!

One of the things I learned is about Treasure Trails – link to info here – so that anywhere you are off exploring, you can get a fun and informative app to guide your progress and challenge the grey matter at the same time.  So whether you want to walk the Ridgeway, visit Wadworth’s brewery, marvel at the engineering achievement of Caen Hill Locks (see photo above), there’s something for everyone in Wiltshire.

The mix of weather means that the grass and hedgerows are growing well and the fruits that they will offer in the Autumn are starting to ripen.  It’s looking like it will be an excellent year for sloes – I predict a good few people will have Sloe Gin on their table by Christmas – and the blackberries are looking good with some sunny spots already ripe and ready to pick.  I loved this pic I found on FaceBook recently – so simple, so clever.  

Many of the cottage guests join us on a pig feeding round – some come to stay because of the pigs, some of them despite the pigs – however, it seems everyone is enchanted by them and many pictures of Boris or Eyelashes or the Mangalitzas get taken and posted on social media. 

Speaking of the Mangalitzas, they did a sterling job of wallow digging this year – I think they were going for a record – there’s room for all of them at the same time although there are occasional squabbles about who gets the best spot!

The Spring hatch of guinea fowl are getting braver by the week – they are now fully free range and roosting up in the roof of the barn at night with the older birds.  There is always some scuffling at ‘bedtime’ as the little ones try to get their place on the roosting bars – the term ‘pecking order’ is so appropriate at moments like this.  But, of course, the little ones will be big ones next year and will no doubt mete out the same treatment to 2021’s hatch.

We’ve had a good crop of wild pheasants hatch on the farm this year – we often hear the little ones before we see them in the long grass.  They ‘peep’ when they are disturbed which seems like a bit of a flaw in their make-up – silence would be a much better strategy!  So, when you hear the ‘peep’, you stop and wait for them to move which makes them easier to spot.  One of the hens appears to have raised 5 to a good size which is a great result for her.  All the chick start off with the same colouring as the hen regardless of their sex and that gives them great camouflage amongst the grass – only later in the summer when they moult do they get their adult plumage, the boys getting their striking red and green colours.

They always mob around at feeding time – it seems pig food is very acceptable to pheasants also – they take their chances with the pigs – diving in to steal a few bits when they can 🙂

At the end of August, a chilly few days arrived to remind us that Autumn is not far away but for now, let’s hope for a glorious September, good fruit picking and good health!