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About the Farm Swallow Barn The Granary Where we are Farm News
Michael and his flock
Raja and Jock RIP
RedKite
mushrooms
The three kittnes on the hay bales
Dillon in his bed of straw
The summer yurt

It seems to be a while since we up dated Ballard Farm Holiday news. The years speed by and although some of the patterns of the farming year remain the same, each year some changes occur. 2019 saw the Barn and the Granary busy all year with Airbnb guests from all over the world as well as our regular visitors, some of whom have been holidaying with us for over sixteen years.

The last two winters have been quite mild and the spring arrival of lambs was healthy, and with plenty of grass and our low stocking rate they have thrived. Our two rams are Ile de France and we are very pleased with their progeny.

Regular visitors to the farm will sadly notice some absentees to our cheery animal family, as we had to say sad goodbyes to 2 of our pet dogs, beautiful bold Raja in 2018 and our loyal sheepdog, Jock, in 2019. Many guests will have fond memories of Raja who loved getting belly rubs from visitors, that is, when he was not half submerged down a rabbit hole! Handsome Jock was never far from Micheal Sloan's side, always ready on a moments notice to tend the sheep, or charm a slice of toast! They are both greatly missed by us, and even by Dillon, our remaining dog, who likes nothing more than watching the daily farm activities from the soft landing of a bank of grass or a fresh pile of straw.

Our two geese have sadly gone. Maybe not the friendliest of animals but their colourful characters and funny farm antics made up for their sometimes ill humours. We have since brought in two female Muscovy ducks who are very quiet and placid birds, rarely venturing afar although in 2019 one decided to lay and sit on eggs on the top of the hay bales. We changed the eggs for hen eggs out of which 4 have made it through the adults. The new hens are Light Sussex and have added some colour to our mixed flock.

A pair of red kites have chosen to nest at the top of a pine tree and reared three youngsters in 2019. The wildlife dept came along and tagged and weighed the youngsters. Parents continue to feed the young birds, even after they have started to fly and their communal call is very distinctive. There would be very few days when we don’t see or hear the kites. Recently a buzzard is to be seen either in a tree or on a post on the avenue. Now in 2020 the same pair of kites have returned to their secure and well made nest and the male is back on his high perch keeping guard and lookout.

The old apple tree in the lawn has also come to the end of its days, disease and old age had rendered it dangerous but it has been a generous part of the farm life from blossom in the spring to mammoth crops of apples and hours of enjoyment for children with swings, climbing ropes and hammocks that we feel the loss almost like losing a family pet. However nature is relentless and as you drive up our long avenue, daffodils line the banks in the spring and as well as many ancient trees some of the newer trees are now looking very mature.

Two cats have recently adopted the farm, moving over from the farm next door. A larger male and smaller female, whom, to our surprise, had three kittens this spring, hidden cleverly in the hollow of a tree. We relocated them after a few weeks to an old horsebox for a few weeks until the mother moved them into the big barn, where there is plenty of nighttime hunting practice for them. ‘Mouse’ the smallest has gone to his new home, life with a juggler and performance artist will be good fun! The antics of these three kittens have given us so much fun and delight especially during these last few difficult and worrying months of Lockdown.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions all our holiday bookings from abroad have had to be cancelled and we will miss meeting new guests from all over the world, Airbnb and the booking setup are a great help and thankfully our regular and new guests from Ireland are still able to holiday here and hopefully with the easing of travel restrictions other families from the UK will also be able to stay soon.

Difficult times for everyone and so many families and businesses have been adversely affected. Now with gradual easing of restrictions many places are opening up and we are so lucky to have the open spaces of this beautiful county and of course Brittas Bay beach and coastline nearby. The quietness of the skies and the silent roads have enabled everyone to appreciate nature in all its forms. Gardens and wild flower areas have never looked as beautiful and neighbourliness with exchange of plants at entrance gates has added to the fun of what else to grow.

Our home built yurt is up again for the summer, a rustic daytime retreat with a book, or even an overnight for the braver of us.

We wish all our readers and followers good health and safe lives where ever they are and hope to see many of you again.

 

 

 

© www.ballardfarmholidays.com Last updated: June 2020
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Email the Sloans