Given the choice of shooting days by friends, John usually requests a day in January. One invite that has taken place for over twenty five years is to friends in Shropshire. A very different set up to ours as part of their shoot takes place in two deer parks which were established in the thirteenth century.
The shoot date this year fell in the midst of the recent snow storms.Should we still go? Were they still shooting? “Not certain but if youcan get, come over for a day or two anyway,” was the answer.
So we did and enjoyed a stunningly picturesque break with our friends’ very different farm set up to our own..
Joy and Kevan run an luxury camping site, farm shop and bed and breakfast business on their farm, so you are guaranteed excellent food and cosseting care. A wonderful place to stay.
The farm has livery stables which help to fund Joy’s own pony habit. As we drove in we could see Joy’s favourite pony Emma frolicking and rolling in the snow. She had had to be kept in for a day or so and relished her freedom.
Parsnip, Emma’s son, clearly thought his Mum was having a mid-life crisis and, never having seen the white stuff before, was far more circumspect in his time outdoors.
The snow had also had a cathartic effect on Joy’s hens. “They think they have been on their holidays for the past few months,” she said. “No eggs at all.”
But the snow must have triggered something in their psyche. Five eggs had been laid that morning by the eight hens.
Two very fortunate pigs snuggled even further down into their straw bed when we leaned over their sty gate to chat to them.
Sausage and Bacon, heartless but apt names, had been reprieved of their destiny just before Christmas as the sausage and bacon maker had said he was too busy and could not cope with another two pigs.
As Joy and Kevan’s freezers are now full of game, these piggies might just have got lucky.
But the real wow factor on this farm are seventy fallow and red deer. The red deer came up for their daily supplementary hay feed to the Ha-ha and we could watch them from the kitchen window.
A year or two ago the red deer escaped when the lakes froze over and they escaped over the ice.
Now there is a Ha-ha in place, a trench which is designed to keep grazing livestock out of a garden whilst providing anuninterrupted view from within, they stay in their park.
The fallow deer were much wilder and we did not see them feed whilst we watched.
There are no arable crops on the farm; Kerry sheep and Dexter cattle graze in ancient meadows and the rest of the farm is woodland.
As ithappens, John did not fire a shot as the shoot was called off. But who cares? Not us.
Mrs Downs Diary