Surviving Winter on the Farm

Posted on February 10th, 2014

Protecting the Animals

It has been officially declared the wettest January on record and February is looking no better; this on the back of a wet Christmas and a forecast of more to come has taken its toll on everyone. However at least we can enjoy the sun when it appears, have some fun in the puddles and then retreat inside for a warming hot chocolate.

 

Enjoying outdoors & hot chocolate

Our poor animals have really been struggling with this prolonged wet spell. Many of them are designed to withstand some cold and wet, but the goats, wallabies, alpacas and donkeys in particular are really not designed for months of this rain and wind. We have been hard at work ensuring their field shelters are kept in tip top condition. This has meant a family team effort every week mucking out

Mucking out the animal shelters

and renewing straw bedding for them all. 

 

 New Straw Beds for the Animals

I have been delighted with the way the children have pulled together humping wheelbarrow loads of old bedding out to the compost and making cosy beds even they were happy to be in.

 Cosy Animal Shelter

With half term just round the corner and many of the fields a quagmire of mud and slippery underfoot we have been keen to utilise some new ground and increase the fenced area. Farmer Nick came up with a cunning plan to make the new lake pass with the morning tractor even more fun and engaging for our guests whilst providing fresh grazing for the animals. This involved more fencing than Nick could do alone, so he called in the local experts.

Henry the fencer and his team have worked solidly for two days through the most atrocious weather to fence in the old pig field and make two new fields round the lake; the kit they have making light work of the job. The only downside from all this machinery is the mess it has made of our already sodden farm pathways. More hard core needed quickly Farmer Nick!

 

 

Then the Storms Hit Cornwall

We had planned for the ponies and Rollo the donkey to be the first to move across into one of the newly fenced fields giving their field a chance to recover in time for lambing in spring and their hooves really need to escape the mud they have created.

 

 Muddy Pony field

Nick had bought the wood ready to enhance the existing field shelter so that it would be fully enclosed at one end giving respite from the wind and rain. However again we were hit by more storms and power cuts overnight and woke to no shelter at all in the morning.

 Overturned field shelter in the February storms

The second goat shelter was a further casualty; though thankfully Nick had already build the new one at the start of the season and with the new mothers safely indoors there is plenty of space for the rest in the one field shelter. Trees and fences lay broken everywhere and animal moving has been put on hold while we repair and rebuild.

 

 Storm Damage Feb at Coombe Mill

The Wallabies lost their shelter and could be seen forlorn looking on the patch where their home once stood. With nothing to protect them it quick thinking to convert a broken bench into a new home with some galvanised steel as a roof. Now we just have to persuade the chickens it is not for them!

Wallaby shelter repairs  

 

On the plus side we have sustained no damage to the properties with all the trees falling within the woods and meadows. Sadly the same cannot be said of our neighbours. Thankfully this is a holiday cottage which was unoccupied! 

 

fallen tree damages home

With under a week before half term we are working round the clock to keep the animals strong and healthy and make the farm as safe from the waterlogged conditions as is possible before our holiday makers arrive at the weekend. If you are booked to stay prepare for tractor rides in the rain and make full use of our adult Rockfish Wellies to borrow and our wide range of children’s boots and farm overalls. Dress appropriately, looks for signs of spring and you can still have a magical family holiday.

 Dress well  & look for spring