Wildlife is integral to the way we farm and live. All our farm plans and decisions are made holistically, taking into account the flora and fauna here. Our farming methods help to sustain wildlife in ecosystems that the farm relies on to stay healthy and abundant - a natural interdependence.
In winter we are host to fieldfares, redwings, yellowhammers and waxwings, and owls pierce the silence of the long nights with their haunting calls. Hares and deer nibble the trees, the fox and badger fill up on voles. When dawn breaks there are tracks in the snow telling tales of many night-time journeys.
In spring we gladly welcome back some dear summer-visitor friends: curlew, black grouse, snipe, swallows, skylarks and
house martins. The frogs spawn, the flowers bloom, the bees emerge, and the air is filled with song and the sights and sounds of life burgeoning.
The season of berries
and mushrooms and
stocking-up for winter!
Swallows set off on their winter pilgrimage.
Hares disperse to find their separate territories.
Seeds set and make ready to take their chance at life.
We say goodbye to the seasonal residents and mornings become quiet.
We check our stores
of food and firewood.
The long days of summer
are filled with sweet scents, the buzz of insects (and the silence of midges!). Nestlings become fledglings, leverets run down the track, sheep are hidden by long grass. Tadpoles sprout legs and start their onward journeys. Worms hide in the cool depths of the earth.
We forage for chanterelles and berries and take dips in the loch on our days off.
ways we are encouraging wildlife...
...and much more too!
and regeneration to keep soils healthy and provide food and shelter for
to make a rich feeding ground for waders
encouraging biodiversity and
celebrating plant heritage by using
and local seeds
reducing grazing pressure on riparian and heath land to allow natural regeneration
water-flow through the site by blocking drains, embracing
the bog, and planting and encouraging
respecting and cherishing the
wildlife here, by ensuring that the changes we make
are neither radical
ponds and swales to capture water, reduce run-off and provide habitats
why is wildlife important to me?
Because the joy that all these things bring to my life is immeasurable! Each year, the first cry of the curlew, swoop of the swallow, sniff of valerian, lifts my spirits high.
I think there is also a misconception that it is farming OR wildlife - but livestock can (and in my opinion should) live alongside wildlife, both enriching the other.
Nature is important to how I connect to the land, my ancestors, gain a sense of place and understanding that guides me. When I hear a wood pigeon call I think of my Granny, see a forget-me-not think of my Nana, swing from a tree think of my auntie. Those connections mean that I find each of these everyday things special, so my desire to care for the elements both heightened and more personal.
I don't feel the need to dominate the landscape; I can find a silver lining in most things; I like having wonderful surprises and seeing how nature sorts things out (not always a happy ending for all). My farming career has been heavily influenced by permaculture - the fair share principal is lovely and so appropriate in these times of greed and capitalism, there is so much to go around if we look after it!