Autumn Forage and Feast event

Our first farm and forage event this autumn
Our first farm and forage event this autumn

On the 8th April we’re joining forces once again with foraging and wild food expert Stuart Woodman to welcome guests on a guided foraging walk around Deviock and the neighbouring woods, culminating in a delicious farm and foraged feast accompanied by a selection of wild booze. Join us for an afternoon and early evening in the outdoors and around the farmhouse dining table.

Having got into foraging ourselves over the last couple of years, we want to share the experience of finding edible delights in the wild. There’s plenty of autumnal bounty to search out and sample, and walks will never be the same again we assure you!

In addition, we couldn’t invite you to Deviock without the chance to try some delicious produce from the farm itself, so expect homegrown fare on the menu too.

And last but by no means least, we couldn’t host an event like this without some wild booze sampling, not according to Stuart and Fin anyway, so expect to enjoy a tipple or two (or three…) throughout.

We’re working with Stuart to put the finishing touches to a very special menu, so watch this space…

We can’t wait to see you,

Fin and Hannah x

Introducing Stuart Woodman

Foraging and wild cookery expert, Stuart Woodman
Foraging and wild cookery expert, Stuart Woodman

We’ll be in the capable hands of foraging and wild cookery expert Stuart Woodman. Head Food Instructor and Master Wild Brewer at 7th Rise and Wild Fal (recently reviewed by The Guardian here), we first met Stuart on one of his foraging walks. With a particular passion for foraged feasting, outdoor cooking and wild brewing, we’re thrilled to have Stuart guiding us on a walk around the farm and woods, cooking for us and sharing some wild brews from his drinks cabinet. Read up on Stuart’s adventures in wild food here on his blog.

What to expect

  • Arrival and refreshments: a first taste of some foraged fare
  • Guided foraging walk with Stuart Woodman
  • Independent foraging for additional supplies!
  • Return to the farmhouse for refreshments, and to put the finishing touches to the farm and foraged feast
  • Early dinner: three delicious courses, menu to follow…
  • Home time 

Welcome to Deviock Barns

Deviock Barns is a small, rural working farm and holiday cottages nestled alongside Cardinham Woods and Bodmin Moor. The family have lived on the farm for 15 years, but we, the newest arrivals, made the move down to Cornwall back in March this year. We’re thrilled to be able to invite you to the farmhouse for this special event.

Anything else you need to know

  • Places are very limited so get in quick!
  • As you’re coming along to a foraged feasting event, you’re probably pretty open-minded about menu options, but if you do have any special dietary requirements, please contact us with details on info@deviockbarns.co.uk before booking and we’ll see if we can make the menu suitable for you. Vegetarians and those who are gluten free can be catered for, but do let us know.
  • The foraging walk involves some uneven and muddy terrain, so sensible footwear (like walking boots or wellingtons) will be required.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. We’ll be going ahead even if it’s wet so waterproof coats and warm weather attire might be needed, although we’re hoping for sunshine of course!

Buy tickets

Tickets are £50, including foraging workshop, all refreshments, a three course meal and wild booze sampling.

BUY NOW

I love pigs. I love pork.

A recent escape by Bacon and Ham!
A recent escape by Bacon and Ham!

So I’ve taken a very active step toward being a farmer and in June I bought two pigs. We bought them locally from a friend when they were 7 weeks old. They’re Saddleback cross Gloucester Old Spot and I’ve called them Francis Bacon and Lord Ham. They look very cute and very delicious!

I’ve had pets and have taken an active interest in the livestock here at Deviock but never been responsible for my own animals. Chris used to farm pigs and at one stage had 30 sows, so his brains were picked and the River Cottage Pigs & Pork book was read. Luckily there was a pig arc on the farm, which only needed minor repairs and after sectioning off a piece of field next to the veg garden with electric fencing, the brothers have been busy scrubbing up the grass and roots, piggy backing (that’s right, pigs do ride on each others backs) and generally enjoying themselves – or so it appears. They’re lovely characters, very friendly, very chatty and seemingly always looking for food. I do worry when I go in with them that if I stand still they’ll eat my willies.

They get fed a mixture of pig nuts, oats, sugar beat, the whey from the goats milk (when we make cheese) and pickings from the garden. We’ve just put buckets in the cottages and ask our guests to save their vegetable peelings, which they can then feed to the pigs.

They’ll stay with us until they about seven months – which will be end of November and then they’ll go off to the abattoir and come back as pork. People often comment that they wouldn’t be able to kill them once you’ve formed a bond and especially named them, but we’ve been keeping livestock here for meat for the past 15 years, we love our animals (every single one has a name), we look after them, feed them well and care for them. If we’re set on being meat eaters, then surely that’s the best meat you can eat. So it is with that ethos in mind that we look at the pigs, we enjoy the pigs and we look forward to an amazing bacon sandwich.

I want to make my own bacon. In the River Cottage books there is excellent advice and recipes for curing pork. I have now turned a small dark room (it was once destined to be an outside toilet) over by the big barn into a curing room. Which basically means I’ve covered all gaps with an old mosquito net, built a bench and installed a fridge. I will then dry cure some pork belly and make bacon! Another project before the pork comes is to turn an old oak barrel into a cold smoker – more on that in another post.

Family-friendly farm cottage holidays (and introducing Jowan)

So we’ve been especially busy on the farm in Cornwall over the last couple of months. In addition to the typical summer activities like days of hay making and baling, we’ve also had a few new additions to look after. As well as new ducks, lambs and calves all settling in to life at Deviock Barns, there’s been a new human too! Jowan Patrick Irwin-Bowler arrived on 18th June, and it has been a whole new adventure since then! Fin and I are enjoying every minute of it – and what a brilliant place to be as a family.

It’s a bit beyond Jowan’s abilities for the time being, at only eight weeks, but he’s been along on the 8am rounds for the last few mornings. Typically this involves Theresa being escorted by any number of children currently staying in the cottages with their families – keen helpers for the morning animal chores on the farm. First up, it’s the cats and pigs to feed, before feeding the ducks and chickens – and collecting any eggs of course. Then it’s off to milk the goat…

With all that to do, helpers are always welcome! If your staying with us and want to join in, just let us know and we’ll see you bright and early!

Feeding chickens
Feeding chickens

A lovely evening for a dog walk…

Our evening walk in the woods
Our evening walk in the woods

When the weather is as glorious as this, I love to make the most of a sunny evening and, much to Esther the dogs excitement, fit in an extra walk.

We’re lucky enough to have a choice of routes to walk through Cardinham Woods right from the farm, with something for every mood: from the leisurely sunset stroll to the tough trek! Of a day time, the Forestry Commision routes and trails are popular with dog walkers and families – there’s even a Gruffalo trail (a bit over Jowan’s head for the moment though that one!).

IMG_2946
The team: Fin, Jowan, Esther and me!

On this occasion Fin, Esther, Jowan and I started off out on an easy amble, but were enjoying ourselves so much that we decided to turn off the route and add an extra bit to the walk. I won’t tell you exactly which route we took, as we were also delighted to find a bountiful supply of chanterelle mushrooms and I can’t possibly give away their location that easily – you’ll just have to come and have a look for yourselves! This foraged treasure made the walk and the evening even more glorious, and the basket-full is destined to make a delicious breakfast served up on toast when Josie, Fin’s sister comes to Cornwall for the weekend.

Spring Lambing

 

lamb and ewe 2016

This year’s lambing has been fairly straightforward. From nine ewes we have got twelve lambs: eight girls and four boys. Devon-Cornwall Longwools are not prolific breeds, and triplets in particular are not common. More commercial breeds would expect most mums to have twins if not triplets.

Well, we had one set of triplets, one set of twins and eight singles. The triplets are thriving now but their mother, Betsy, was not very maternal (this was her first experience of motherhood). She has nursed Wilma and Willow was adopted immediately by Bea, who had Winston the same day. Winifred was placed with Barbara, who lost her lamb at birth a couple of days later, and thankfully they bonded. Betsy had not allowed Winifred to suck from her easily, so the lamb is lucky to now have a kind ‘mum’.

We have had fairly simple births this year. A couple needed a little tug, which means finding the front feet and pulling as the mum pushes, and out they slide. First time mums often need a helping hand, especially if the lamb is big, which means the head can get a bit stuck. If the mum has to push for too long, the lamb can be starved of oxygen and is then born dead. This is what happened to Barbara’s lamb.

lamb 2016
Little Walter, our first lamb this year

Once a lamb is born, it is good if we are present, to check the airways are clear. Sometimes you have to tickle the nostril with a piece of straw to stimulate the lamb to breathe. As soon as all is well and the lamb is on its feet, probably within a half hour, we dip the remains of the umbilical cord, the bit attached to the lamb, in a bottle of iodine. This will stop infection getting into the blood stream and also helps to dry up the cord.

Then the lamb has to find the milk. It never ceases to amaze me how instinctive it is for young animals to be up and sucking quickly, and the new mums take to it, showing interest in guiding the youngster to the teat. Occasionally a mum may be awkward, kicking at the lamb or moving away. It could be that she suffers some discomfort, but usually all settles down quite quickly. A hungry young lamb is very determined.

Our last arrivals caused the most concern.  Bridget, a young ewe that we bought last September, gave birth to a little scrap, who we named Winnow.  When I returned to the shed to check everything, Bridget was struggling to deliver another lamb. She needed some help as a leg was bent at the knee and needed straightening. Then, out came a much bigger lamb, Wynona.  Initially all seemed well but then we noticed that Winnow was very subdued and after four hours was still cold and damp. We guessed that she hadn’t sucked enough milk and that her energy was low.  I carried her for half an hour in a snug ‘pocket’ between my woollen  jumper and t-shirt, and my body heat warmed her up. I also gave a bottle feed of warm colostrum, the essential milk that they first need after birth. Chris, meanwhile, fixed up a heat lamp in the corner of the pen making a little draught-free cosy bed, and by the morning she was so much better.

We kept them all indoors for five days as the weather was very cold and wet, but now they are out in the field with the flock and they are all thriving. We have to check them all three times a day now because the fleece on the mums is long and heavy and occasionally when they lie down they roll over onto their backs and then they are stuck, legs waving in the air! They are then very vulnerable to predators, especially birds, so we have to haul them over!

The next job will be shearing – when the weather warms up, in May…we hope!

lambs 2016
The flock relaxing in the spring sunshine

 

Lambing comes early to Deviock

Longhaired ewe with lamb, Walter

Welcoming Walter, our first lamb of the year…

We had a lamb born today, Walter! We didn’t expect to see a lamb until March so this was a real surprise. Not the best picture here, but you can just see him hiding behind his mother, Beryl. We bought the young ewe in September to add to our small flock of Devon & Cornwall Longwool Sheep and its likely she was already pregnant.

Lamb

Walter is doing very well!

Walter the Lamb & Ewe

Here’s a picture from our archive and what we’ve got to look forward into lambing season!

Longwool Lambs 2015

First Forays into Goat Keeping


Goats

My fascination with goats began 40 years ago when I was exploring ways of living in a sustainable community. I came across goats and I fell in love with the idea of keeping them. The desire to try my hand at goat keeping just would not go away. Thereafter, the wish to be a goat keeper was lodged deep inside but my journey through life was such that the option was never quite there. Until a year ago.

Thirteen years ago, we came to Deviock and used the land to support a beef suckler herd. My first attempt to be self-sufficient in milk by keeping a Guernsey cow was halted when I was knocked to the ground by another cow when I got between her and her calf. I sustained a cracked sternum and was out of action for a couple of weeks. Once you start a pattern of milking, however, it has to be maintained every day and thus our milk production was put on hold.

That is until a year ago, when my husband, Chris, said that we should downsize the farm to make our lives easier to manage. I interpreted this as meaning we just needed smaller animals, and so with the guiding principle of ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, we reduced the number of cows and I downsized to goats. At the beginning of September 2014, we had two additions to the farm: 18-month-old Suzie and Sarah; and two weeks later, Sybil and Sylvie – 6-month-old kids – arrived to make it a proper little herd.Chris is ‘anti goat’! His belief is that they are impossible to contain and they’ll eat everything in sight. Although I had read the books and spoken to other goat keepers, the reality takes its own mantle. The responsibility is akin to having a child.  They have needed safe, draught-free but well ventilated accommodation and grazing areas with good stock fencing – and no gaps under the gate, as they are good at finding those in their bid for freedom or more importantly a tasty snack from the hedgerows or trees or my garden plants! Goats are browsing animals and they need roughage to keep their bodies warm and healthy.

Goats

On on of these occasions, Sybil got onto a hedge and worked herself along it until suddenly we saw her on the roof of a old slate barn! She climbed up and over the ridge and then neatly jumped off onto a lower roof and then seven feet down to the ground! They are extremely agile and energetic!

Back in December, my goatlings went to a billy goat and in May both girls produced twins. I’ve gone from two to eight goats in nine months: no wonder Chris is aghast! The mums stayed with the kids 24/7 for a month. Since then the kids have been separated from them overnight, and each morning I attempt milking! It’s a lot harder than the books say but I persevered and I can now get a pint from Sarah! I’ve started making cheese, using the whey in bread and the milk in my coffee.  The next stage is complete weaning and then milking twice a day! I am now one step closer to self sufficiency.

Farming gots

Welcome to our new site

Hello and welcome to our new website! We hope you like our new look.

Over the coming months we plan to add lots more information and news about the farm and holiday cottages and give you plenty of ideas on things to do whilst staying with us on your holiday.

Bluebells Barn (front)
Bluebells

This is an exciting new chapter at Deviock Barns as we embark on self-managing our largest cottage Bluebells for the first time this year. So at last, with the help from our lovely (grown-up!) children, we have got ourselves onto the world wide web! This is all new to us, so please bear with us while we get everything set up.

In the meantime please have a browse through the website and remember you can keep in touch via our facebook and twitter pages.

Thank you!