We have had a great deal of help from friends, family, colleagues and neighbours over the last four years, to get set up as a working farm. The following list of “Friends” is by no means exhaustive, but this is our way of saying thank you to those who have lent a hand when we have most needed it and have contributed to making Chater Valley Farm the beautiful place that it now is.
Award winning “chainsaw artist”Matthew Crabb from Exmoor has created us three beautiful calved sculptures from old tree trunks. The seat above is carved from a 3m-long piece of cedar from a neighbour’s garden. Several of our animals feature in the carving – one of our dogs, Tomas, is sat to the front left hand corner; Leon our new falabella colt behind; our mangalitsa piglets in ‘kissing mode’ (centre), a Sebastopol goose (bottom right) and a guinea fowl lurking near the foot of the seat. See if you can spot others. The design is intended to match a stone wall we built in the rear garden, which it is destined to be located. You’ll see it if you visit us. One of the other carvings is an Osprey holding a salmon (below). You can see the original tree stump (below left) – the detail again is fantastic. Matthew is a genius! He last came to our farm in September when we had a Farm Open Day. If you wish to see him in action, please check with us when he’s next visiting the farm or look out for when he’s taking part in competitions. His work has to be seen to be fully appreciated – when people do, everyone says the same thing: “And he did this with just a chainsaw?”…
The Kings Arms, Wing – nearby gastro pub is run by friend and adventurous chef James Goss, and he likes to put our Mangalitsa pork on his menu. Great, very seasonal food (including game) and very good recently-refurbished accommodation.
The Marquis of Exeter, Lyddington – another great restaurant, pub and hotel run by our friend Brian, who used to be a rather famous singer’s personal chef (but he keeps that quiet!). Food great. Accommodation if you want it.
Jeeves Catering have got us out of a pickle on more than one occasion (bad pun!). They’ve catered for us many times over the years, including for our wedding. You can choose your food from an amazing menu, and they bring it already cooked or finish it in your kitchen. And they wash up afterwards. Brilliant!
Manor Farm Feeds, Owston – our cattle and sheep are ony fed grass and hay, but when we do want to buy traditional feed, such as for our pigs, then this is the place we buy it.
We use Mark Boland (below) of Embryonics a Chester-based bovine transplanting and training company for all of our embryo work. He’s one of the best implanting technicians around, although he knows only too well that we would just love to do without him by having a closed “naturally-bred” herd of miniature Herefords (one day Mark!). This is where we store the frozen miniature Hereford embryos we have for sale.
Pete Burdett of PR Burdett Fencing Ltd, based at 6 Jubilee Drive, Langham, Oakham LE15 7JH Tel 07976525029. When we bought Chater Valley Farm, it was a “non-working farm”, and we had to fence off all the paddocks (must be miles of fencing). We’ve kept Peter in good work, but we wouldnt recommend him if he wasn’t good at what he does.
Wing Hall Estate – we know all the family who run Wing Hall Campsite nearby. The site is grassy, spacious with lovely views, and well equipped with a shop, and a veranda cafe bar. Like the Kings Arms, Wing Hall (shown left) is less than a mile from our farm, so if you book into either, make sure you come and visit and we’ll sell you some of the best home-made sausages you will have ever tasted!
Duncan Burton (0780 2674570) from Exton near Oakham is officially an agricultural contractor, but to us he’s a traditional guiding light on looking after our animals and farming the land. If he can’t help, he surely will know a man who can.
Scottish Agriculture College – SAC operate one of the original high health testing schemes for cattle; their Premium Cattle Health Scheme (PCHS) is very well respected and is organised and supervised by Vetinary Services of SAC Consulting. We’re proud to be a member and run an Elite of cattle under their scheme so we can prould claim to be accredited free of all the major cattle diseases.
Pasture Fed Livestock Association – The PFLA is a relatively new organisation promoting the benefitsof cattle and sheep fed on pasture and natural forage such as hay for the whole of their lives. Its a good way of feeding animals – good for you, good for the cattle and good for the environment. The intention is to run a QR code system (a bit like a barcode) which can be scanned by Smart Phones to show the provenence of the meat. It’s an excellent scheme, and we’re delighted to be a supporting member. When – very occasionally – we do have meat for sale, it will be sold under the PFLA label.
Romany Herefords – Rob and his dad have been breeding poll Herefords, and winning accolades for so doing, for many years. Rob supplied us with our latest batch of standard Herefords to act as surrogate mothers for our miniature Hereford embryo programme. Very happy to recommend him and his herd.
New College Stamford – We are a satellite farm for the College and they send us their students who need to develop their animal handling skills as part of their agriculture courses. We also have visits from some of their autistic students as they prepare for life beyond college.
Robenger Kennel run by Rosemary and Gerry, breeders of some of the best Portugese Water Dogs in the country. We bought Matilda from them and she went on to have a litter of 14 puppies, all of them fantastic! That was an interesting few weeks as we had to hand feed all of them to helpt Matilda get through the ordeal. We just had to keep one, Chiquita (right) – she’s a real scamp but adores the freedom of the farm. Her mum leads her astray once and a while when they go on hunting trips .
Merrylegs Falabellas – Based in France, Sharon Packer runs a lovely Falabella farm stud. Very helpful with information – we bought Lola from Sharon, a lovely blue-eyed falabella. Here’s a video when she was still with Sharon. Click here.
Equuleus Falabella Stud – Sue Eckholdt runs this Falabella stud in Norwich. We bought Lady May (right) from Sue via her close friend and colleague Kamilla Lewis, and both have been very helpful and knowledgeable. Lady May has had a colt foal, Leon and he’s a stunner.
Falabella Stamboek Europa – The Falabella Studbook Europe Association was founded in 1995, and has been acknowledged by the ACCF parent studbook in Argentina. This is the official studbook registration for this rare breed of miniature horse for all of Europe.