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CAMPSITE

As we are open all year (except when I may take a holiday) we do get the occasional camper during the late autumn and winter. One brave man, who arrived in good weather, left the following morning in torrential rain (1) planning to walk 17 miles to Yeovil. He slept in what appeared to be a slightly large version of a pup tent (2) which had to be carried wet in his rucksack. He wore wet weather gear including a cape which seemed to engulf him. A group of canoeists arrived for one night and slept in a tepee with a wood burner. Sounded like luxury to me (3,4,5). In the cabin one of the shower bases had to be taken out as it had started to split where the drain hole was. Seems it had been leaking for a while so it was not a pleasant job removing it. (6) The new replacement one is sparkling and level and the water actually goes straight down the drain hole which is a great improvement from the old one. (7)

FARM

The bull left after 6 weeks of having fun with the cows (8). He took quite a lot of persuading to get into the cattle lorry. I suppose I didn’t help with my camera flashing to get a decent photo at dusk. I finally managed to get a photo of our cat called Rhubarb. (9) She came with her twin Custard when they were 4 1/2 months old. Unfortunately Custard was run over by a huge tractor in the lanes when she was 10 months old. As we would like to open a museum at some stage we very rarely throw anything historical away. The elevator (used in the past for taking loose hay and sheaves of wheat to a rick) and the winnower (an early threshing machine) are parked together in a field because there is nowhere else to keep them. (10) They had to have a fence put around them otherwise the young stock would have damaged the winnower. The contractors arrived at dusk to do the job. (11). The winnower has since been covered with a tarpaulin. Once the newly cemented covered yard had “cured” ready for the cattle moving in we had to put up gates to enclose the animals on occasions. (12, 13)

BEES AND HONEY

As the weather has been mild until very recent frosts the bees have been busy foraging mainly on ivy. (14, 15) A friend of ours arrived with his own super of frames (16). He then cut the honey comb out of the frames onto the “Easy Bee” tray to melt out the granulated oil seed honey (17, 18) so that the honey and the wax could be separated before putting the honey into the bottling tank.

THE GARDEN AND ORCHARD

The autumnal colours were as beautiful as ever (19) and we were fortunate to see several Red Admiral butterflies flying around in late October (20). We have had an amazing apple crop this year, especially the crab apple tree. (21) I have since made crabb apple jelly from the fruit. The fig harvest was not quite so plentiful with the tree only producing one decent fig. (22). A rambling rose which has been climbing up the farm house front wall for at least 45 years (23) has never been pruned properly. I have usually hacked away at it since I returned to the farm. This year it was expertly done and looked a work of art when it was finished (24). The loganberry bushes were also trained properly on wire along the cider cellar wall (25). Some repotting of daisies etc was done in October, because I shall never have enough garden space to plant out everything growing in pots. (26)

ALL THINGS EQUINE

We do see quite a lot of horses along our lanes all through the year. A neighbour and his wife often bring their three horses along Bluntshay Lane, these being two thoroughbreds and a cob. (27). Two friends arrived at the farm one day with their horse William which was a gypsy vanner and an 8 year old gelding. (28) He was pulling a 2 wheeled gig. Sir John Colfox, his wife (from Symondsbury) and friends are sometimes seen with their wagonette being drawn by a Hungarian warmblood. (29).

LOCAL FARMING

Early autumn is the time for the maize harvest. There is a lot of this crop to be seen in West Dorset. (30) The forage harvester cuts the maize (31) and then blows it into a trailer (32). When the trailer is full it is driven back to the farm and takes up the whole width of the country lanes (33). On arriving back at the farm the trailer tips the chopped maize into the clamp (34) and then a tractor drives up and down the clamp and around the top of it to compact the silage. (35) When the clamp is full up it is covered over with plastic which is then waited down with tyres. I went along to a ploughing match but missed all the action because it finished early because of heavy rain. One contestant was kind enough to give me a demonstration of his skills on his David Brown tractor and Ransom plough (36)

LOCAL EVENTS

There were lots of things going on in October, being the season of harvest. The Marshwood Young Farmers Club had their harvest supper at the Whitchurch Village Hall and transformed the room into the Titanic along with the iceberg. (37, 38, 39). All the awards and cups that the club had won over the years were on display (40). Every local village and hamlet had their own harvest supper (41, 42). The local vicar and his wife did very well on eating out during this period. We were invited to have a market stall at the Big Green Apple Day in the grounds of Thorners School, Litton Cheney. It was advertised as celebrating sustainability, green and traditional skills, outdoor learning, conservation, busking musicians, local people and history, all things appley and this year a pledge to save our bees. It was a very interesting experience walking around seeing pond dipping (43), a butterfly tent (44) , a forest school site (45) , a mobile local produce van (46) and listening to the “buskers” (47).

We were also invited along to the annual Bridport Community Orchard event. This was established in 2008 to raise awareness of Dorset’s rich orchard heritage and to stop development on the land. Fifty eight fruit trees have been planted in all, along with a pond and allotments. (48) As usual there were lots of apple varieties on show (49) with numerous other stalls and a story telling session (50).

October was very busy for us with our goods as we were also invited to attend two local Screen Bite events. (51) This Food Festival celebrated its ninth year this October. A full length food-themed film is always shown. Local food producers are invited to attend with samples of their wares for the audience to share. Felicity’s Farm Shop sponsored the Wootton event (52), and Denhay Farms (53) and Washingpool Farm Shop (54) sponsored the Broadwindsor one.

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