The goats are dairy goats, mainly British Alpine / Toggenburg cross. They usually have kids in September / October and we sharemilk. That means the mums raise the kids themselves and provide all the milk and we take the leftover. The kids stay with mum full-time till they are 4 weeks old then are separated overnight, we milk in the morning and the kids spend the day with mum learning to be a goat. The goats graze during the daytime on a multi-species pasture mix and also get a treat of grain at milking time. We cut hay from our pastures during peak season and the goats enjoy this delicious addition to their diet every morning and when it rains.
The main focus of the sheep is for milk and cheese. They are mainly East Friesian with various crosses of Lacaune and Awassi. They lamb in spring and there are usually lambs to be bottle fed from September until January. We usually milk twice daily and welcome visitors to see how we run our dairy. The sheep are enthusiastic to come in for milking and don't need to be herded in. After morning milking they go out to graze for the day on a delicious mix of pasture species. They prefer to stay close to home overnight and stay in a paddock beside the house. We shear once or twice a year and use the wool for spinning, felting, insulation and weed suppression. Lambs that are not destined to be part of our dairy flock are sold as lambs or raised for meat.
We have been making raw milk cheeses for more than 10 years. After years of experimenting we are now making around 20 different types of cheeses: soft cheeses, hard cheeses, blue, pressed and ashed. For us, making cheese is more than science or knowledge, it is also about listening to the milk; about understanding what you need to turn delicious milk into great cheese. Our girls are working hard to produce a superb milk and we want our cheeses to reflect their life. Eating a raw milk cheese for the first time is like watching TV in colour after years of black and white. It give us the possibility to express the diversity of our own terroir.
The pigs are there to turn the whey leftover from cheesemaking into delicious bacon and sausages. They also play an important role in turning over the ground sometimes and eating kitchen scraps.
We raise chicken, quail, ducks and geese for eggs and sometimes for meat. Chicken, Quail, Duck and Goose eggs have progressively richer flavours. We sell the eggs, in season, from all the poultry, on their own or alongside our vegetable boxes. Of course, they also make an important contribution to keeping the grass under the orchard trees under control, and adding diversity to our paddocks.
The garden is an important keystone of our effort to provide the majority of the food for us and our guests. We practice minimum disturbance gardening to try to promote maximum biodiversity and life in the soil. This allows the plants to access a wider range of nutrients and minerals that they need, giving us healthier, better tasting vegetables.
Our orchard produces small crops of apricots, apples, plums, pears, feijoa, and berryfruit. Nut trees provide hazelnuts and almonds with a future aim for chestnuts, walnuts and pine nuts. The poultry helps cycle nutrients and fertilize the trees, as well as helping themselves to the occasional dropped fruit.