Buttle Farm in Compton Bassett is home to Robert and Sara, who live in the farmhouse, a converted Victorian brick and slate barn which was once winter housing for the dairy cows that used to live here. Across the yard is the Chalk Barn which is available to rent as a holiday cottage. It too is a converted barn and probably the oldest building on the site, constructed largely from chalk blocks – the local building material.
The fields are managed pastureland with grass cuts being taken twice a year producing sweet, fresh hay and haylage. There are a number of ‘wild’ areas that are never cut which produce a wide variety of so-called weeds and wildflowers which attract many bees and butterflies as well as providing habitat and corridor for the wildlife that share the farm. This encourages the owls, red kite, buzzards and kestrels that can be regularly seen soaring over the fields.
In the woodland area, mixed native planting provides shady cover in summer and berries and wild apples in the autumn. The hedgerows are a rich mix of plants including hawthorn, blackthorn and of course, the inevitable blackberry tangle all of which produce delightful blossoms in spring and fruits in the autumn. The hedgerows are only cut every 2 years, to allow for a safe nesting environment for the many variety of birds.
The farm’s ‘green’ credentials are strong: Heating is provided by two biomass boilers, solar thermal panels produce hot water (even in the winter), solar PV panels produce electricity and all the buildings were heavily insulated during the conversion process.
Buttle Farm is also home to a flock of guinea fowl who roam free range around the barns and into the fields, eating bugs and seeds along the way, as well as delivering fabulously yellow, rich eggs for use in the kitchen. They may not be the smartest birds but they certainly are one of the more entertaining varieties and make a point of greeting visitors to the farm.