At the heart of Pennyhooks is a 100 acre organic grass land farm. It has been owned by the Otter Family for over 60 years. It has beautiful views and water meadows with orchids, otters, water voles and a wonderful meandering brook.
There is a herd of about 20 Aberdeen Angus cows plus their calves, as well as a flock of hens, some donkeys, goats and pigs.
The cows have an important role in the care of the conservation on the farm, as by their carefully managed grazing, the species rich grassland is maintained.
Conservation & archaeology
Pennyhooks ancient valley is protected as a county wildlife site and currently by being part of the Natural England Higher Level Stewardship programme. Neolithic flints have been found here as well as old field systems and it also has a limestone tufa spring within a reed bed woodland. It needs constant care & attention to ensure that the significance of this special farm is maintained & if possible enhanced for the well being of future bio-diversity here.
The sense of well being & a balanced ecology also often benefits those who spend time here. Recent research supports the perception that being outside in a natural environment has positive effects for mental & physical health. See the Care Farming UK Website for more information.
Pennyhooks Farm Year revolves around care of its cattle and care of its grassland. Calves are born throughout the year, suckled on their mothers for 9 months, and sold between 1 and 2 years old either as store cattle or finished cattle. We have our own pedigree Angus bull.
Activities outside on the farm, starting in January, include:
- • Thistling using hand diggers to remove thistles from the grassland
- • Muck spreading in February, using contractors & their machines
- • Hedging in March, with the help of ‘Stick & Stones’ to maintain our woodland & hedges by appropriate trimming, laying & weeding
- • Fencing in April, ongoing checking & repairs
- • Turning out the cows, carefully managed to keep them well, over 3 weeks in May
- • Moving the cows at grass in June using electric fences to protect the growing grass
- • Silage making, local contractors help to turn grass into silage bales for Winter feed. Sometimes we have to patch the bales to keep them from spoiling, after the crows have made holes by using them as tables to stand on & pluck corn from the ear, from corn they have picked in our neighbours fields.
- • Hay making in July; using our own old fashioned machinery to lessen the compaction on the water meadows, we make about 200 small bales of sweet smelling meadow hay to feed the donkeys, goats, pigs & any cows in special need. Making hay is a recognised way of helping to maintain & enhance the meadow flower species, by spreading the seed further afield.
- • Harvesting in August/September. We buy our straw locally as our farm is not suitable to make our own; we watch the giant combines all around us with pleasure knowing that corn is coming in safely for another year. Our own harvesting is done in our gardens & hedgerows, creating a wealth of tastes to enjoy at our shared Harvest Meal in October.
- • Pollarding & stacking of logs, starting in October
- • Winter care of the cows from November onwards
- • The cows calve all year round and are tested annually for TB