How do you let animals roam safely and the cars pass through a field without having to open and close gates to the road ?
Install cattle grids!
Well it may sound simple but actually this project has been rumbling on forever. It was last year when Nick came up with the idea to combine our top fields behind the properties allowing a wide grazing area with a path right down to the rabbits. His vision was to finally have all the animals on the farm accessible from the morning tractor and trailer rides without little legs having to walk too far. The fields in question cross the main entrance to the Scandinavian lodges and the prospect of asking guests to open and close gates every time they entered the farm really wasn’t practical and so thus far anyone staying while either the ponies or sheep have been tucked away in these far away fields have often not found them all week.
Cattle Grids felt like the answer, they worked up on Bodmin Moor for the ponies and sheep there so why not for ours.
Looking up a supplier of cattle grids was our first hurdle, they seemingly don’t exist! We ended up needing a blacksmith to make them for us to our required measurements. The massive stainless steel grids cost us a whopping £3000 and so Nick decided he would economise after after taking delivery and install them himself.
I was less than happy with this as they were so heavy I had visions of lost limbs before the job was completed. Undeterred by my concerns Nick, with the help of our boys at weekends, spent weeks digging the holes, laying concrete and finally positioning the grids into place.
He even included a soak away for excess water and a little escape route for any smaller wildlife becoming trapped inside the grids.
The cattle grids were now safe for cars to drive over, and hopefully strong enough for heavy building vehicles in the autumn when we start building a new lodge, but it still wasn’t safe for the animals who could bypass the grids. Nick is an expert at fencing and in no time he had a professional looking fence either side of the grids.
All that remained was to add hinged gates for walkers to pass through.
The moment of truth came when we opened the gates to the top fields housing the ponies and sheep and waited to see if they would come out to investigate the alpaca in the lower field and vice versa.
We didn’t have to wait long, the sheep led the way across the road catching the alpaca by surprise.
Nick began feeding them down near the rabbits and they soon learned to congregate there for breakfast, now the guests could finally see all our animals without a huge hike.
Now that we are open for the season, cars can come and go freely across the cattle grids, well apart from having to hoot at the odd animal on the path, and the animals have enjoyed having a much larger field to graze and learned to rub alongside one another quite happily with all the space.
As for me, I’m just delighted Nick and the boys managed to see the project through with no injured limbs! I fear one of these days they are going to take on too much but I hope that is just me being a protective mother and wife!
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.