Cattle in the wrong place can do a great deal of damage!

Am I really that scary? Are the males in this household so frightened of me that they’d rather try and hide a mistake and think I won’t find out than confess and take the consequences? Apparently the answer is YES!  In this instance we are not talking about a simple mistake, we are talking about an avoidable mistake with BIG consequences.  Here’s what happened…

Yellingham-in-januaryYellingham Farm, like all farms, is governed by the seasons and, of course, the weather. The Spring brings new life, bouncing lambs, new growth of grass, hedgerows full of wild daffodils and buds bursting from the hundreds of trees on the farm. The Winter has its moments with crisp, white frosty mornings, but as December dawns and we move forward to the arrival of a New Year, the rains appear, the grass diminishes and disappears overnight. The River Tale floods and we watch as the sheep line up against the bare hedgerows for shelter from the wind and rain. The cattle’s sleek, black, mink-like coats which they wear in the summer increasingly become long and thick to protect them from the cold.

It is at this point that the inevitable happens. To save the ground from getting over grazed and poached and from having to use tractors over very wet ground to take hay to our cattle, we decide to bring them in. The day dawns and we bed down one of our large barns with wonderful yellow barley straw and set up big round feeder out in the yard for the hay, so that the cattle can wander in and out to their hearts content and are not confined to being totally inside. Happy cattle mean a happy me!The-culprits (1) Yellingham

Two large metal gates enclose the cattle yard and separate it from another large concrete yard outside the farmhouse, my beautiful vegetable garden, large fruit cage and the love of my life……. my polytunnel. The gates are really heavy duty, which they need to be as a mature bullock weighing some 400+ kilos takes some restraining and they regularly rub themselves up against them. I told the boys to check the gates and make sure that all the fittings were in good order. A bit of baler twine will not be sufficient to tie the right hand gate. This was a message delivered strongly on numerous occasions during the first week that the cattle were in.
“Don’t panic Mum. It’s fine. It’s all secure. Stop moaning!”.

Given that I was asleep when the disaster happened, I will recall the story told in Edward’s words:
“I always get up early. It goes back to my days as Executive Chef, when work started at 6am. It’s so peaceful without Janet barking orders at us poor males. It gives us time to prepare ourselves. On this particular morning, it was extremely dark, overcast with every chance of the day being a miserable one weather-wise. Little Lilly, a runt of a Jack Russell, Tilly the beautiful jet black spaniel and dear old Todd, the brown, fox-like collie all greeted me with such enthusiasm, tails wagging ten to the dozen. I put the kettle on the Aga for a much needed cuppa and walked to the back door where the dogs were queued up ready for their first run in the garden and a much needed wee. Overalls on, welly boots at the ready and a steaming hot cup of coffee in my hand, I put on my tattered, very smelly farm coat with the pockets overflowing with baler twine, fencing staples and other broken bits and pieces – I must empty them out – the coat would be much lighter. The first job is to let ‘Madam’s’ other collies out who live in kennels outside, then the chickens, before moving on to check the cattle in the barn. The kennels are to the right of the barns and as usual the 3 collies bound out ready for their day’s work and always make a bee line for the vegetable garden where the chicken house is situated. The poor chickens get gently rounded up for the first few minutes of the day by the collies, but this morning that fixed daily routine didn’t happen. Yes, the collies bounded out as usual, but as they rounded the yard and the 2 metal gates enclosing the cattle yard, they all skidded to a halt and in true collie style crept slowly towards the garden. It was still dark, but my eyes had focused to the darkness and my heart missed not one beat, but at least 100 beats, as there, looming in the distance were Madam’s six beautiful heifers. The baler twine tying the gate had let me down bigtime. The trouble was, as I stood there and told the collies to lie down and not move, I had no idea how “bigtime” this mistake was. The last thing I wanted was the collies to round them up, cause them to run and create even more damage, particularly because they never do what I say in any case. This had to be done quietly and with limited fuss. The collies were soon back in their kennels, totally bewildered by this sudden change to their early morning routine. One metal gate was wide open with the baler twine clearly in pieces. How many times had we been asked to mend the gate catch – doesn’t bear thinking about at the moment. I opened the other quietly so as not to wake her indoors. That was the easy bit. I fetched a stick, walked slowly towards the vegetable patch – fortunately the vegetables are grown in raised beds so hopefully no damage there. The fruit cage looked fine. The polytunnel had no visible holes in the plastic. I approached the cattle calmly as I didn’t want a stampede on my hands. They were nowhere near the lawn in front of the vegetable patch and were quietly grazing in the longer grass surrounding the chicken house. Phew! In the relative darkness, it looked like I had got off lightly. Maybe the odd hole in the long grass, but madam would hardly be able to detect it. Slowly the 6 beasts made their way back to the yard and I quickly fastened the gate with strong rope. Time to get off to work before she gets up”.

I continue…….. Edward is very good, he likes the early morning, so when I get up I can concentrate on my sheep and cattle. The day looked miserable but it was daylight and time to get on with the day’s work. First stop is my collies. Out they bound and off we go. But not today. They seemed a bit hesitant and when they approached the cattle yard they cowed down like they were ready to work. Daft dogs. The cattle were staring at me over the gates with steam billowing from their nostrils as the cold air made its presence felt. They looked happy and content. Next stop, the in-lamb ewes, which are in the field next to the garden. Normally the dogs are under the wooden gate and off at top speed, but this morning they were wandering around the chicken shed. Something wasn’t quite right with them. I sauntered over towards the vegetable beds and fruit cage and suddenly the reason for my dogs’ strange behaviour became apparent. I literally ran around the garden, over to the fruit cage, back around the chicken house before I stopped, sat on the edge of one of my raised beds and cried. I really cried. The damage to my garden was huge. 6” divots from 24 cattle feet, the black netting encasing the fruit cage was destroyed around the back, and to top it all they had climbed onto the raised vegetable beds and eaten my loved and tended Xmas Brussel sprouts. Do you know what I did? I cried again. Then the inevitable happened. Mobile phone out. Dialled Edward and, shall we say, the rest is history! I need not have dialled his number as my voice was so loud bellowing down the phone that he and all of his staff would have heard it 20 miles away.

The gate catch took 5 minutes to mend, the damage probably took 15 minutes to achieve, and I wish I had taken a photo of the boys wheel-barrowing topsoil to fill in the divots, as that took weeks!

Posted in chickens, Cows, Farm Dogs, Lambs, Member Farms, Sheep

Beat travel boredom with these great games…

We know many of our guests this Easter will be travelling a few hours in the car to get to South Devon. If your family is anything like ours then the thought of your little darlings stuck together on the back seat with impatient cries of “are we there yet?!” is the only downside of going on holiday!Top-tips-for-surviving-a-LONG-car-journey-with-kids-facebook

Many families these days have in car entertainment but here are some ideas for good old fashioned travel games for when the kids are tired of the tech or sick of screens.

20 Questions This easy game is great for younger children thanks to its straightforward rules. Player One thinks of a person, place or thing. Everyone else takes turns asking questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. After each answer, the questioner gets one guess. Play continues until a player guesses the answer correctly.

The Holiday Game A memory based alphabet game for all ages. One player starts off with the line “I went on my holiday and I packed….” followed by an object beginning with the letter “A”. The next player has to repeat all that went before and add an item beginning with “B” and so on all through the alphabet.

The Number Plate Game Children loved to make up stories and this game is great for inspiring creativity and imagination. Each player chooses a passing car and looks at the last three letters of the number plat.  Now make up a story using those letters- the first letter decides the main character, the second letter could be a place or an item in the story and the third letter could be what the character is doing. Alternatively, get everyone to make up a phrase or word using the letters on the numberplate.

The Word Game One person starts by saying a word then each person has to come up with a new word that starts with the last letter of the word given.  For example, player one says ‘car’, player two says ‘rabbit, player three says ‘tree’, player four says ‘elephant’ and so on. Quick-thinking is key – the faster the pace the more fun the game

Who’s Next Door? Traffic jams – an inevitability of motorway travel but not a good combination with restless kids!  Play the game of nosey neighbours-  everyone chooses a window to look out of and takes a quick peek at the person in the car nearest to them. Don’t get caught staring! Its then up to each player to decide what sort of person they are… their name, job, decide where they’ve come from or where they’re heading, what their favourite food is and so on. Give points for the most outrageous or funny descriptions.

We hope all our families have safe, fun and easy travels to Beeson Farm this Easter!

Posted in Member Farms

So much Easter fun to be had in South Devon!

At Beeson Farm we love the Easter holidays! The lanes are dripping in primroses and wildflowers, lambs are in the fields and the days are getting much longer- perfect for long and lazy afternoons on the beach.

The local villages really embrace the start of Easter and the start of the holiday season, so here are our top picks for an egg-cellent Easter in South Devon!

On Easter Sunday morning join us on the farm to see what the Easter Bunny has been up to.  We guarantee there will be plenty of chocolate Easter eggs hiding around the farm, cottages and courtyard for our youngest guests!
Head over to the annual South Pool Easter Fun Day on 31 March (Approx 10 mins from Beeson Farm). The fun takes place alongside the estuary in the pretty village of South Pool, home to the fabulous Millbrook Inn.  Be sure to turn up with your Easter Bonnet ready for the children’s egg hunt and bonnet competition from 12:15pm and then marvel at the South Pool duck race from 2pm.  You can choose your rubber duck and cheer it on as it floats to victory down the estuary! There will be a BBQ and live music at the pub throughout the afternoon.  East Soar Outdoor Experience is situated on a National Trust farm in one of the most breath-taking parts of the South Devon headland, just above the picturesque town of Salcombe (approx 15 mins drive from Beeson Farm).  Their yearly Easter family fun days are hugely popular with locals and guests alike and will run from Friday 30th March – Wednesday 3rd April – 11am daily, £3 per child.Easter bonnet

East Prawle is Devon’s most southerly village and The Pigs Nose Magical Easter Extravaganza is back for 2018 on 1st April (approx 5 min drive from Beeson Farm).  It’s going to be a day of family entertainment for all, with Lez the Fez and even the Easter bunny itself making a visit.  Head to the Pigs Nose for a fun day out and a chance to win some Easter prizes.  The afternoon kicks off at 2.30pm with the Easter Bonnet and boiled egg design competition before the egg rolling race and treasure hunt.

At Beeson Farm we have five family friendly cottages sleeping 4-6.  Easter is an ideal time to book exclusive use of the site for a large family/friends getaway.




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A trip to Bickleigh Mill is a must!

Bickleigh millBickleigh Mill, near Tiverton, combines an artisan shopping experience, fine dining and a base for local recreational activities all in a picturesque environment.  The building itself, is an historic 18th century working water mill and is open 7 days a week from 10.00am.Bickleigh mill shopping

The gift shop sells a treasure trove of items to delight both young and old – framed prints, clothing and accessories, jewellery, home furnishings and traditional toys and crafts to inspire the children.

Bickleigh Mill diningThe bistro bar and restaurant is open from 10am – 5pm every day and later on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year.  It serves a variety of light and main meals, also catering for vegetarian and gluten free diners and offers the best in seasonal produce, all sourced from local suppliers and delivered fresh to the Mill.

Bickleigh Mill is situated between Exeter and Tiverton in the Exe Valley.  Set in 10 acres of land, the Mill has its own waterways and walks that can make your visit complete. For any outdoor enthusiast this idyllic setting is a must and there are many other local attractions within a short distance.

Posted in Member Farms, Restaurants, Retail, walks

Extend World Book Day and hibernate with a good read!

As the weather is only really good for sledging or hibernating we think World Book Day (yesterday) should be extended!

Devon has inspired many authors, and South Devon is still a creative hub of artists & craftsmen who are inspired by the stunning and diverse area in which we live.  It’s no wonder that celebrated writers such as Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, RD Blackmore, Henry Williamson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge – to name only a few – all have links in one way or another with Devon.

Here is our top pick of books with a Devon connection:

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie was born in Torquay and as a child she enjoyed all aspects of an English Riviera social life: roller-skating along the pier, going to dances, dinners and balls and bathing in the sea.  She later spent many happy years at Greenway House, her holiday home on the banks of the River Dart, now owned by the National Trust.  Greenway is a magical place to explore for all the family, the house is charmingly cluttered, and there are acres of grounds filled with meandering walks, hidden follies and views of the River Dart. Agatha Christie set three of her novels here – Five Little Pigs, Dead Man’s Folly (in which the boat house is the scene of the crime) and Ordeal by Innocence.

Agatha Christie set ‘And Then There Were None’ on a fictional island off the coast of Devon, inspired by Burgh Island at Bigbury.  It is also the setting for the Hercule Poirot mystery ‘Evil Under the Sun’.

Greenway House is approximately a 20 minute drive from Beeson Farm (if you travel via foot ferry from Dittisham).  You can find information on visiting the house here:

Burgh Island and Bigbury beach are approximately 35 minutes from Beeson Farm by car.  The beach is a popular spot with many of our visitors who enjoy the large stretches of sand as well as surf lessons from the surf school.

Michael MorpurgoMichael Morpurgo book

Celebrated author, and resident of Dartmoor, Michael Morpurgo has written some of our best loved children’s books.  War Horse and Farm Boy were set on Dartmoor, but The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips is a favourite with us.  Set in 1943, Lily Tregenza lives on a farm in the idyllic seaside village of Slapton.  Her life is scarcely touched by the war until one day her family, along with all of the other villagers, are told to move out of their homes. Soon, the whole area is out of bounds as the Allied forces practice their landings for D-day, preparing to invade France.  Tips, Lily’s adored cat, has other ideas.  Barbed wire and keep-out signs mean nothing to her, nor does the danger of guns and bombs.  Frantic to find her, Lily decides to cross the wire into the danger zone to look for Tips herself…

Torcross and Slapton Sands are a 10 minute drive from Beeson Farm.  Visitors can see the memorial to the hundreds of Allied soldiers who lost their lives in Operation Tiger as well as the Sherman Tank that was recovered from the sea and now stands as a place of remembrance.

You can read more about Operation Tiger here:

Arthur Conan Doyle

Dartmoor provides the backdrop for The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle; perhaps his most famous and best loved novel.  The novel is believed to be based on the story of local ‘monstrously evil man’ Richard Cabell of Buckfastleigh (his tomb still stands in Buckfastleigh churchyard).  Legend has it that when he died in the 1670s, fire-breathing dogs raced howling across the moor.  Baskerville Hall itself is argued to be either Hayford Hall or Brook Manor, both near Buckfastleigh, and many believe that Fox Tor Mire was the setting for the fictional Great Grimpen Mire.

Dartmoor is approximately a 40 minute drive from Beeson Farm. Visit the Dartmoor Visitor Centre ( to find out more about the Hound of the Baskervilles.

Devon Cookbooks

If your reading tastes are more of the non-fiction variety then there are a plethora of cookbooks inspired by our local produce. The well-known Riverford box scheme began when Guy Watson started delivering vegetables locally to 30 friends in Devon.  They now deliver around 47,000 boxes a week to homes around the UK from our regional farms and their cookbook contains a great variety of seasonal recipes.  The Farm Kitchen at Riverford is approximately a 30 minute drive from Beeson Farm, find out more here:

The newly published Devon Cook Book ( celebrates the best of the county’s food scene with over 50 recipes from a wide selection of local foodie businesses.  These include some of Devon’s finest local restaurants, delis, gastro pubs, cafes and local suppliers (such as the South Devon Chilli Farm, a 20 minute drive from Beeson Farm –  To browse these and many more titles visit the Harbour Book Shop in Kingsbridge, on Mill Street at the bottom of the town.

Cottages at Beeson Farm are well stocked with good reads.  Sit and relax in the farm grounds or on the beach with a good read on your next stay with us!


Posted in Beach, Member Farms

Fursdon Orchards’ Apple Juice

At Fursdon, there are some very old orchards which are tucked away on the estate and not seen much by visitors, but the apples that come from them are accessible to all in the form of Fursdon apple juice.  Come October there is a great gathering and bagging from ground and tree and they are taken to be pressed and pasteurised before returning in the form of this pure, sweet, tangy golden liquid.

Visitors coming to Devon to stay in Fursdon’s holiday homes, The Park Wing, Garden Wing and Fursdon Cottage will find a complimentary bottle of Fursdon apple juice as part of their welcome and there is a ready supply for them to buy.

It is also sold in Fursdon’s Coach Hall tea room, which is open to the public, from Easter Monday to the end of September, on Bank Holidays, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Visitors here can buy it by the glass or in a bottle to take away. On a hot day there is nothing more refreshing after a tour of Fursdon House or a stroll in the grounds and gardens and, if it is chilly, Fursdon Apple juice is wonderful warmed and spiced. Just once in a while cider is made, but that is mostly a treat for the family!

Cider bottles and view- Fursdon

Apples - Fursdon

Posted in Member Farms, Recipes, Retail

Our equine family have just enjoyed their annual winter break!

Devenish Pitt poniesOur  horses and ponies have just had their annual 4 week break after another busy year.  As well as our holiday cottages, we have a superb family of reliable mounts to suit all sizes and abilities of rider.  Our riding school was established in the early 1960s and we offer hacks and lessons from a friendly team of very experienced instructors.  You can also hack out in the beautiful surrounding countryside and have numerous routes over our 260 acre farm and common, local bridleways and forestry to choose from.  We can offer quiet family rides in the valley or faster rides across our field and common.  Come and meet our equine family!


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Pancake Day at Beeson Farm


Pancake Day is a firm favourite with our family – especially the dog, who waits expectantly for any failed flips and pancakes falling from the heavens! Although we love a good, fluffy, American-style pancake for breakfast, we think for pancake day you’ve got to go traditional.

Here is our fool-proof Beeson Farm Pancake Recipe (just make sure you have a really good flat bottomed pancake pan)


100g plain flour

2 large eggs

300ml milk

1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a little extra for frying

lemon wedges, to serve (optional)

caster sugar, to serve (optional)

Put the flour, eggs, milk, 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt into a bowl or large jug, then whisk to a smooth batter. Set aside for 30 mins to rest if you have time, or start cooking straight away.

Set a medium frying/crepe pan over a medium heat and lightly wipe it with some oiled kitchen paper. When hot, cook your pancakes for 1 min on each side until golden, keeping them warm in a low oven as you go.

Serve with lemon wedges and sugar, or your favourite filling. Beeson pancake

For all your pancake day ingredients (including delicious fillings) head down to Stokeley Farm Shop (between Stokenham and Torcross).

For a savoury twist, check out the recipes on the Riverford Organic website here

If you prefer to go out for pancakes we can recommend The Seabreeze Cafe at Torcross for big American fluffy style pancakes, The Tower Inn at Slapton (Kids all you can eat pancakes for £5) and Valley View Cafe at Aune Valley near Loddiswell.

Posted in Member Farms, Recipes

Plenty of half term options nearby to Orchard Meadow…

If you’re wondering what to do over half term, with so much in close proximity in East Devon, we can always point you in the right direction.

Local activities include:

Pecorama – set on the hillside above the picturesque village of Beer, this popular tourist venue includes a display of model railways, pretty gardens, a shop, and you can take a ride on the Beer Heights Light Railway. (20 minutes away)Pecorama

Seaton Tramway – Seaton Tramway operates narrow gauge heritage trams between Seaton, Colyford and Colyton in the glorious Axe Valley.  Travelling alongside the River Axe estuary through two nature reserves, you get an unrivalled view of the abundant wading bird life. (20 minutes away)

Seaton Jurassic centre – Share the excitement of the discoveries made by local fossil hunters, geologists and evolutionary-thinkers as they uncovered the stories of life on Earth. With loads of hands-on activities and a fun garden to explore you’ll have a great day out whatever the weather! (20 minutes away)

Seaton Wetlands – A must for those twitchers amongst you as you enjoy beautiful marshland and reedbeds alongside the River Axe.  There are five bird hides and nearly 4km of level trails and boardwalks suitable for wheelchair, bike and pushchairs.  It’s a countryside haven and home to an abundance of wildlife.   Seaton Wetlands is made up of four main sites – Seaton Marshes, Black Hole Marsh, Colyford Common and Stafford Marsh. (20 minutes away)

Bicton Gardens  – Award Winning World Heritage Botanical Gardens open to the public all year.  Wander at your leisure around this stunning site or let the small gauge train service take the strain.  Shop, café and a wonderful children’s play area. (20 minutes away)

Crealy Adventure Park – Over 100 acres of beautiful countryside to explore, 60 rides and attractions (plenty of undercover areas in case the weather is inclement) to get the heart pumping and the kids squealing with delight.  There’s also a wide range of cute and cuddly animal residents. (25 minutes away)

Radway Cinema in Sidmouth – This lovely old fashioned cinema is a delight to visit, with lovely décor, comfy seats with tables for your drinks and friendly and accommodating staff. Currently showing the latest Wallace and Gromit film, ‘Early Man’. (20 minutes away)

Ruth 20180101_144504




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Half Term options in South Devon…

There is plenty of fun to be found to suit all ages and budgets this Half Term in South Devon.

Here is our pick of whats on locally:

Woodlands Family Theme Park, near Dartmouth (approximately 20 minutes from Beeson Farm). During half term it’s Superhero and Princess Week, with winter prices of only £7.50 per person.  When children dress up as a superhero or a princess they will get a free child return ticket to visit the park again before 25th March 2018. There will be live entertainment 13th, 14th and 15th February 2018.

Pennywell Farm (approximately 45 mins from Beeson Farm). Become a Pennywell VIP with a February Half Term return ticket. A full price day admission ticket gives you a FREE return for the rest of half term so you can visit as many times as you like! With a full day of hands-on animal action, a different activity, show or display every half hour, hundreds of friendly animals (including some you can bottle feed and the world famous Pennywell Farm miniature pigs). There is also an indoor play space and four free outdoor rides.

Paignton Zoo (approximately 50 minutes from Beeson Farm). With over 2,000 animals across 80 acres, you’re in for a really wild time at Paignton Zoo! Head down to the zoo for a week full of fun activities and the launch of their year of Nearby Nature. As well as finding out about all the animals in the zoo guests can learn about, and get closer to, the fantastic native species we have around us. There will be lots to do including special talks, trails and more.

National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth (approx. 60 minutes from Beeson Farm). The UK’s largest aquarium, with over 4000 animals.  2018 is their 20th birthday year! During February Half Term visitors can join in with ‘Sea the Difference: Ocean Adventures’ celebrating all the wonderful marine animals and habitats found here in the UK. Meet scientists, conservationists and marine heroes and take part in activities, games and adventures!

As if that all wasn’t enough to fill your Half Term we would also recommend the Art Café in Kingsbridge, The Kidz and Co play café in Salcombe, PaperBird Island in Salcombe, Clip and Climb in Plymouth, iBounce in Newton Abbott, the South Devon Steam Railway in Buckfastleigh and Start Point Lighthouse.

Posted in Calves, chickens, Lambs, Member Farms, pets