We have established the Cedar Herd of North Devon Ruby Red cattle, selecting pedigree breeding cows from a variety of farms. We also needed a pedigree bull of course, and brought the Brigadier (aka Freddie) home to meet his new girls in Nov 2007. Having done a wonderful job, he has now moved on, and we have a new pedigree bull called Eddie (AKA Essington Bigshot).
Devons are a hardy breed, enjoying outdoor living all year round; as much at home on the dry heathland as they are on the downland grass of the chalk ridge of the Purbeck Hills. They are moved round the farm at various times of the year, depending on the ground and weather conditions. They don't need a lot more than grass or rough forage, but in the depths of Winter they do enjoy a bale of hay.
A couple of years into our time at Rempstone, we were offered the opportunity for funding by the Purbeck Keystone Project and funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, SITA Trust and AONB(SDF) to buy a different rare breed of cattle, with the specific purpose of grazing for conservation on the chalk grasslands on the Purbeck Ridge. We chose Hereford cattle and these have joined our herd of Rubies - we have some lovely Ruby x Hereford calves which are doing well.
Having the Purbeck Way running through some of our fields also influenced our choice as the Devons and Herefords are known to be well tempered and gentle.
We have Lleyn ewes which lamb outdoors during May and early June. They are great Mothers and the lambs have good 'get up and go'! We have a few tups (rams - male sheep!). We breed some ewes pure with Lleyn tups and others with Poll Dorset, our local breed.
Our sheep, like the cows, live outside all year round grazing on grass and having some silage or hay during the Winter. The sheep are sheared in April, which helps them in a variety of ways - it prevents them from overheating during lambing, stops them getting stuck upside down on a full fleece, and helps us to see what is happening at the back end during lambing time!
Our beautiful brown laying birds are called Goldlines. These also live in wooden sheds which have very cosy nesting boxes in which they lay their eggs. We collect the eggs each day. The hens are very chatty and like to follow us round the field. They range across the field and enjoy the shelter our friend Nick built them and dig big holes to dust themselves in!
The feed we give them is an organic cereal based turkey food and at the very end we give them home grown whole grain cereal which gives them an extra boost at towards the end. Then a couple of weeks before Christmas we process them on the farm, dry plucking and hanging for at least two weeks for that delicious full flavour.