Glebe Farm finds some new tenants

Hi again everyone. Following on from our last blog, we want to keep everyone up to date with what is happening here at Glebe farm, the home of West Country Quality meat, and our Pasture fed beef and lamb, as well as outdoor reared rare breed pork.

Last month we found out that a neighbour had recently purchased some unused grazing land, and was making it available for renting very close to us; this ground totalled 43 acres, and has not been managed in any way for 20 years. After viewing the land and talking to our neighbour, we agreed to rent it from her.

This land is situated in the nearby Alfoxton area, two miles from our house. It also comes with some tenants. Some people may say this is a down side, but we feel truly blessed and lucky to have these tenants — a resident herd of red deer, whose ancestors have been roaming the area for hundreds of years, and who were written about by many well-known people.

Alfoxton is set at the lower ground of the Quantocks Hills in West Somerset. It has amazing views across the Bristol Channel and out to the Welsh coast. During World War II American troops and nurses were based here in the manor house of Alfoxton.

The manor is steeped in history, known as Alfoxton House and also Alfoxton Park and was recorded in the Doomsday book. The house was rebuilt in 1710 after it was destroyed by fire. It has been used as a private dwelling, religious centre and a hotel.

Its most famous resident was the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy in 1797. They leased this large property, then a private house for £23 a year. A frequent visitor to their home was fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge who lived in the next village. Together they roamed the stunning Somerset countryside inspiring them to write. It was here that Wordsworth wrote “Lyrical Ballads “and Coleridge wrote “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”.

Dorothy wrote regularly in her journal and one of her entries describes the land as we see it today: how the large mansion stands within a large park with seventy head of deer.

Unfortunately on visiting the area this week the manor house looked to be uninhabited and in a poor state of repair; however there is talk of restoring the house to its magnificent state.

We are delighted that the ancestors of the deer that Dorothy wrote about, remain within our land and that 17 acres of it is dedicated to the herd, with the remaining 26 protected by a newly erected deer proof fence.

As mentioned previously apart from having the deer on this ground and some occasional stray sheep, it hasn’t been managed properly in 20 years. Hence we now have that challenge on our hands. Anyone reading this who has ideas about how to eradicate thistle without spraying herbicides, feel free to contact us and advise us accordingly.

Acquiring this ground will allow us to have more freedom, in terms of the numbers of animals we can rear; it will also allow us to grow and harvest all our own winter fodder, be that silage, haylage or hay, rather than having to purchase this from our neighbours as was our previous plan.

Our first task, which we have just completed, was to have all the ground “topped”. We have also taken soil samples, and sent them for analysis and are awaiting the results. This will give us guidance and let us know what minerals and nutrients are in the ground and what we need to replenish, and will allow us to design a strategy to improve the soil condition by organic means.

Here at Glebe Farm, home of West Country Quality Meat, the quality of grass we grow and the quality of soil in which it grows is so important to us, as it is the only feed type our animals eat throughout their lives, as per the ethos of raising Pasture Fed for life meat, and if our grass is poor, then our animals won’t get the nutrients they need, meaning we have failed them and also failed our customers, by not supplying them with meat from animals, that have had a first class quality of life.

Until next time

Love Sam & Jackie

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