Lots of reasons why farm holidays are the best!

Devon Farms recently ran a competition to find out what made holidaying on a farm so special for so many people. We had a truly wonderful response and it was really hard to choose a winner.

Some of the comments were really poignant. They spoke of their own happy childhood memories of farm holidays and their determination to ensure their children now enjoyed the same experience. Some are now even taking the next generation, their grandchildren, on farm holidays to experience the same freedom, fun and relaxed learning environment that they had as a child.

Previous Devon Farms’ guests spoke so enthusiastically and eloquently of watching their small son or daughter’s face light up as they bottle fed new lambs and new calves, hunted for eggs, took a tour of the farm on a tractor, had hours of fun in the hay barns and met new characters amongst the goats, pigs and even llamas!  Most spoke of enjoying true quality time with their children in front of the fire or out in the fresh air, away from screens and social media. They said their children learned so much in such a short time, experiencing a different way of life and also being quietly educated about how their food is produced, with great care and attention by the farmers they met. Egg collecting

Devon Farm members were also lauded for the warm welcome they gave to their guests, many becoming firm friends and returning annually to the same farm. Access to delicious locally sourced produce was also a popular bonus.

In the end it was decided that Gillian Barnes would be awarded the first prize of a £50 voucher towards a holiday with Devon Farms.  She wrote, “I love the relaxed atmosphere. Watching my son beam with delight when he sees an old farm favourite or a new spring lamb. Sunsets behind old stone walls with foxgloves in bloom. The sound of the chickens, ducks, cows and sheep. Braying donkeys and greedy goats. The swoosh of swallows and the cheep of sparrows. A Devon farm really can’t be beat. Such happy memories. Stickwick Manor Farm and Cottages truly idyllic.”

The Committee were also so touched by the comments of Elaine Sparks that a second prize was awarded. Elaine said, 

“What better way to interact with the animals and muck in, to learn about farming first hand and enjoying all the cuddles, scenery and fresh air…as you can see by my photo you get the opportunity to meet some adorable friends and its hard not to get attached but even harder to say goodbye at the end of your holiday..”Elaine Sparks' photo

Well done to you both and we wish you a very happy holiday! 

So what are you waiting for?! Get booking and you too could be making magical memories with your family!

Posted in Calves, chickens, Cows, Lambs, Member Farms, Sheep, walks

Christmas gift ideas and spring lambs……

The rams have now joined the ewes so, with a gestation period of 21 weeks, we should have the first lambs around the 25th March and be lambing during the 2018 Easter holidays.  Get booking if you want to see them!Ram and sheep

Please remember, if you’re looking for a unique Christmas or 7th (wool) Anniversary gift, or just want to wrap up warm this winter please do have a look at Huxtable Farm B&B’s Jacob Wool products for sale; 100% wool throws, knee rugs, cushions, scarves, knitting kits, hand knitted hats and cowls. We also have 100gm balls of Jacob’s sheep wool in three different colours, cream, grey & dark brown.

Jacob-wool-products Huxtable



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Reach for the skies on a trip to the Milky Way!

If you need to entertain the children and you’re based in North Devon why not try the Milky Way adventure park? It’s an award-winning, fun filled day out for all the family. 

milky way roller-coasterYou can ride the cosmic typhoon rollercoasters, have a bumping good time on the droid destroyer dodgems and go wild in North Devon’s biggest indoor adventure play area. It has assault courses and slides built for both adults and children. Kick back and watch the amazing live shows featuring Merlin from Britain’s got talent, plus fantastic displays from the North Devon bird of prey centre.

milky-way-adventure-park-bideford-06At the Milky Way they’ve got attractions to suit all ages, whatever the weather. With over 110,000 ft.² of indoor fun and acres of outdoor activities the Milky Way theme park is the biggest all-weather family day out in North Devon! There are so many things to do plus all the rides are included in the entrance fee! Your adventure awaits. Are you ready?


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A few clues for entrants to our competition!

Here are a few things you can do during your stay at Huxtable Farm……………..Feed the hens and collect their eggs, identify bats at dusk, enjoy the beautiful colours of the leaves in the woodland whilst taking a bracing walk around Huxtable Farm’s Devon Wildlife Farm Trail, pick apples, collect conkers, see how many different fungi you can find and much, much more!conkers

To see what else is happening in North Devon this October please click on the following links:

RHS Rosemoor in October

21st & 22nd Antiques & Collectors Fair,

28th & 29th Pumpkin Weekend.

Halloween Festival at The Big Sheep 21st – 29th October

Pumpkin carving, haunted house, spooky castle, free face painting and much more!

Star Wars at The Milky Way 28th October

National Trust Arlington Court in October:

21st – 29th October Haunted Halloween Trail,

27th October Spooky Night Walk,

24th & 27th October Halloween Crafts

North Devon Food Festival 22nd October

19th – 29th October Exmoor’s first Dark Skies Festival,

Celebrating Exmoor National Park’s status as Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. The Festival will appeal to families and children as well as those more experienced in watching the stars.

Don’t forget there’s so much you can do at Huxtable Farm B&B for FREE too


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‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…………..

 APPLE-Bramley-1024x786 applesWith the apple trees bowed under the weight of all the fruit at the moment, you may wonder what to do with them all.  After all, there’s only so many pies and crumbles you can eat.  Well the picturesque village of Clovelly has the answer, so head there on Saturday October 28th for an endless array of apple based activities for all the family to enjoy.
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Get pressing those apples!

The annual Cider and Apple Festival at Killerton House is fast approaching! Guests at Hele Payne Farm particularly enjoy collecting the apples on the farm and taking them to be pressed. They can then bring the resulting apple juice home with them. There are lots of other activities available for all family members to try, as well as live music, locally sourced food and stalls to browse. Follow the link below for more information:



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How about a bird of prey experience?

YarakYarak is the most unique falconry centre for birds of prey in the Southwest and is set in the heart of the countryside in a beautiful tranquil setting near Cullompton.  Yarak birds of prey offers hands on falconry experience days for those who want to experience handling and flying birds of prey in a totally private falconry centre environment. Yarak is the place to go for complete hands on experiences.

Whether you like Owls, Hawks, Falcons or Eagles there is something for everyone,

Hot/cold food and refreshments are available from the cafe – only food purchased there may be consumed on the premises.

All hands on birds of prey experiences are strictly by appointment only.  Renowned for the quality of the falconry experiences, they are just as well known for customer care. yarak-birds-of-prey

Yarak Birds Of Prey was moved from Oxfordshire to Devon in 2002.  The site that Yarak now occupies was a near derelict property.  John and Di, the owners, have developed the property to its current state with sheer hard work and thousands of pounds of personal investment.  Yarak is, and always will be, about the welfare of its birds, who are treated as family.   Many of the birds have come from unsuitable backgrounds, such as being kept by the inexperienced, resulting in psychological and physical trauma.  A lot of these birds have been integrated into the flying team, whilst others prefer the safety of their aviary environment as they have lost all trust for people.  For them, Yarak is like a retirement home where they can live a fruitful and peaceful life with plenty of stimulation.

The birds have amazing personalities and are treated like family, not tools of the trade.  The reason the birds are so content is that they are working in their natural environment and, unlike birds kept at theme parks and other attractions, do not have to cope with excessive noise and disruption.  Yarak has resisted many offers to join other locations with the promise of increased profits, but the owners have always refused as their bird’s welfare remains the number one priority.

Yarak is the place for bird of prey enthusiasts of all ages to go and enjoy close up encounters in a natural, rural environment.  Enthusiasts can book half or full day experiences, an owl encounter or phone for a quote for a group visit.

Definition of “Yarak”

A state of complete focus on the hunt, usually referring to Accipiters.  An Eastern term referencing when the bird’s training, weight, and mental focus all comes together in the field. The hawk is riding the fist in anticipation of the hunt and is ready to go.



Posted in Wildlife

Farm shop – keeping it local…….

Lower Campscott local shoppingThey say we are a nation of shopkeepers and here at Lower Campscott we certainly enjoy keeping the farm shop well stocked with all sorts of essential groceries, as well as our succulent meat and some delicious treats as well.  Part of our winter planning is a stock take and review of last year’s best sellers.

The meat freezers have been filled with tasty beef cuts from our own Dexter cattle including top quality steaks, burgers, roasting joints and tender braising steak too.  Last year’s pigs are this year’s sausages and they are delicious!  That may sound harsh, but we believe that if you’re going to eat meat then it should be produced to the highest welfare standards.  Our pigs enjoy a good life on the farm with plenty of space, food, shelter and opportunities to wallow and root around in their paddock.  There’s also locally produced chicken and bacon too.

dexter cattleOur chickens are semi-retired, living out their days happily on the farm, and their egg production is dwindling.  Luckily our neighbours at Borough Farm have several large flocks of hens and can supply us with beautiful, organic eggs, ensuring we don’t run out in the shop.

Kathy’s home cooked meals, made with our own farm-produced meat, are always popular – simply reheat them, then serve and enjoy; ideal after a day exploring or on the beach.  Why not finish your meal with some scrummy Farmer Tom’s ice cream?  Another Devon treat made on Dunstaple Farm using their own fresh, whole milk, clotted and double cream sourced from local dairies.  We stock one litre tubs and small theatre tubs, which are ideal for when the family can’t agree on just one flavour!  Everyone loves a treat while they’re on holiday and we’re really excited to have found Cupcakin Around and the lovely Theresa who bakes in her Ilfracombe cottage kitchen.  We’ve tried some of her bakes and they’re wonderful so we’re thinking some farmyard animal themed cupcakes would go down well in the shop.  Theresa’s lemon drizzle cake is sublime and her chocolate cakes are heavenly too.  For anyone celebrating at Lower Campscott – birthday, anniversaries or friends getting together – Theresa can bake you a fabulous celebration cake and deliver it to your cottage or lodge.  Take a look at her Facebook page for ideas and inspiration Cupcakin Around.

Cupcakin aroundThanks to a bumper crop last year we have lots of our own lovely farm produced apple juice to put on the shelves and we’ve just harvested a load more.  Brendon Hill Crafts will continue to supply us with jams, jellies and chutneys; all made in nearby Barnstaple and we’re keeping it local with sustainably and locally produced charcoal too.

Add to that freshly baked pasties, bread, lots of grocery essentials such as pasta, tinned tomatoes, coffee, tea, sugar, fresh milk, cheese, butter and cereals and you should be able to get pretty much everything you need for your self-catering holiday.  No need to shop before you set off for your break – simply let us know what you need for your first few meals and we can make sure everything is waiting for you in your cottage or lodge when you arrive.

How’s that for a very local shopping service?!


Posted in Beach, chickens, Cows, Member Farms, Recipes, Retail, Shopping

Visit the countryside………it’s idyllic!

The telephone rings.

“Good morning, Yellingham Farm”

“Oh, hello, do you take single women?” Oh no not another one!

‘Yes of course”. I replied.

What ensued was the life history of a single lady called Christine.

“Well you see Mrs. East, I am on my own, been married, but he was not a good man and after many years of work, work, work, I have decided I need to live my life”. Oh heck, another one who wants to find them self. She continues…

“I was in the dentist this week and picked up a glossy country magazine and I was smitten. It was amazing, the photographs were so good, there was bunting everywhere in the orchards, ladies sat under parasols at tables dressed with linen tablecloths, drinking elderflower cordial, making floral table decorations, sheep and cattle grazing in the background. I thought… I need some of this idyllic country life – what better place than a farm”.

This lady sounded so lovely. You know what it is like, you have this vision of what a person looks like from the tone of their voice. Christine spoke in a very soft Yorkshire accent. I imagined her to be in her 60’s, shy, but someone who had dedicated her life to others. There was a hint of her being slightly old fashioned but totally unselfish with sound morals. I was to be proved right.

I tried to explain that we were a working farm and whilst in my eyes it is beautiful and idyllic, magazines often depict life in the countryside as a dream to be realised, but things are not always so perfect. Oh my goodness, she even asked me if I made embroidered linen pot covers for my homemade jam. Heavens… I haven’t even made any homemade jam this year, let alone made linen jam pot covers! I was not put off and was so keen to welcome this lovely lady to Yellingham Farm and try to match her expectations and let her experience our wonderful, yet hard working life. She booked there and then. As I put the phone down, I began to worry to death that I could not live up to the image that these glossy magazines portray. Yes, I have a beautiful orchard, but it does not have lovely tables, tablecloths, beautiful rose filled bowls, scones, jam and clotted cream and chickens meandering through the undergrowth.  Too many flies around for that and stinging nettles.cream tea

The day dawned. Christine arrived. Small car, dark blue, immaculately clean and as I was soon to appreciate, just like it’s owner (not blue though!). Christine was in her 60’s, very grey hair, bordering on white, nice bob haircut, glasses, traditional “A” line linen skirt and floral short sleeved cotton top and sandals. At this time of the year the entrance to the farm does look lovely with huge colourful hanging baskets everywhere, pots of begonias and fuchsias, intermingled with my favourite gorgeous smelling roses. It is a real picture. Christine’s first impression of the farm was good and she was smiling from ear to ear, like a young child experiencing her first holiday.

When making the booking she made it very clear that she wanted to participate in farm life and be involved as much as possible but, having met her, I was not sure how easy this was going to be as her constitution, both mental and physical, was unlikely to hold up to the tasks I had in mind. The weather was good and the shearer was booked and the hay was nearly ready to bale. Two hot, sweaty, long jobs. Oh dear, maybe, I need to re-think and consider the benefits of making bunting in the orchard after all.

After checking in, a lovely cup of tea, and a general chat, I asked Christine if she would like a quick walk around the farm with me to get her bearings and understand what we farm and what was planned for the week. She was so excited. The first hurdle was that she didn’t own a pair of welly boots and had certainly never wore trousers. Wellies I could sort, trousers, not a hope in hell.  A good job her skirts met the top of the wellies otherwise there were going to be a few leg issues. We walked along the River Tale which borders the farm with 4 border collies and Tilly, my beautiful jet black sprocker, the Swallows following us, dipping up and down and it was pretty “idyllic”.  I daren’t break this magical moment for Christine by telling her that tomorrow was going to be hard, smelly work – we were shearing.

Shearing JacobsThe morning was beautiful – not a cloud in the sky. The shearers were setting up and my guest told me how excited she was to be watching shearing for the first time in her life – perhaps she thought once it was over, I would be sat spinning in the evening and then knitting a beautiful jumper. I told myself not to worry and broke the news that it was all hands on deck and that she would be rolling wool with me – it fell on deaf ears as she had no idea what was in store. Still dressed in a skirt and pretty blouse we made our way down to the barn which was extremely noisy with every sheep baaing as loud as they could. She was clearly deafened by the sound. I quickly showed her how to roll a fleece and by the horrified look on her face this was not something she was not going to take to easily. The 2 shearers were working fast, it was hot, and it wasn’t long before the fleeces were coming off the sheep quicker than we could roll them. Christine was trying hard, but she was rolling 1 fleece to my  4 and rather than being nice and tight, they were huge and loose. There was also another problem, she started to scratch her arms and soon they were very red and looked sore. I quickly recognised she had a problem – she was allergic to wool and particularly lanolin. I had to limit the damage so I suggested that I carried on rolling wool on my own and would she just like to go indoors, wash and change and then keep the shearers plied with cold drinks. With a great big smile on her face, she returned to the yard with a tray of cold drinks and for the next hour pestered the shearers every 10 seconds to see if they wanted more drinks. Bless her, she was so concerned for their welfare as the sweat dripped from their faces onto the sheep – even if they were fed up with her concerns, they never showed it. In the quiet of the evening, I saw her sat in the orchard, doing nothing, totally content with all my dogs sat at her feet, no tables with linen tablecloths, floral china tea service and homemade cakes… Just total peace and quiet.

Over the next couple of days, the hay got made, the bales stacked onto trailers and brought in and another hard, long farming task was completed successfully in beautiful weather. Given it was impossible to think that Christine could even lift one small hay bale, she relished the task once more of supplying drinks to the lads as the heat of the sun took its toll. That evening I joined her and sat watching the sun set over our pond below the orchard. Christine’s week on the farm was drawing to a close. Had she enjoyed it? Did the expectations she dreamed of when she was reading the glossy magazine in the dentists come to fruition? I wanted to ask her, but at that moment down at the pond, something special was going on in her mind which I didn’t want to disturb. We sat in silence for a while longer before she said in her quiet soft voice:

“Thank you Janet for sharing a tiny part of your life with me”.

A pause. Oh no here comes the truth – she’s disappointed. I have shattered her image of the “idyllic countryside” she had set her heart on experiencing.

“It has been more beautiful and fulfilling than I could have imagined. I may not have been much help to you, but letting me be the drinks monitor made me feel useful and wanted. I now realise the magazine was selling a dream. You have let me share in what the countryside is really all about”.

I felt humbled as this dear lady was putting her old suitcase into the boot of her car, dressed in yet another “A” line skirt and pretty blouse. The dogs had come to love her and were fussing around her feet and I felt that she had formed a real bond with them and with us. I had a little present for her, no, not bunting or homemade jam, but the wellies she had worn all week. She was delighted – again like a child receiving a wonderful Christmas present.

Maybe I need to write to that glossy and tell them what it’s really like at the sharp end – probably wouldn’t get printed and it wouldn’t attract lovely people like Christine. I wonder if she ever wore those wellies again?

PS A week later I received a beautiful David Austin rose called the Shepherdess. The card just said Thank You. C x




Posted in chickens, Farm Dogs, gardens, Member Farms, Sheep, Shepherd

Step back in time and watch the heavy horses………..next time!

On the weekend of 12th & 13th August Jonathan and Fiona Waterer kindly hosted a Working Heavy Horse event at Higher Bidacott Farm in North Devon.   The event was held in aid of the Addington Fund and Chittlehampton Church.



Many horses of all different sizes came to demonstrate different working  skills in the fields.  The 6 horse ploughing team provided a dramatic display and there was also dung spreading with shire horses, hauling logs and wagon rides, while the younger riders showed their skills in the arena.   A farrier was demonstrating shoeing a horse and there were stalls, food and much, much more.  On the Sunday a dog show also took place.



We were also able to have a stand to promote farm accommodation locally, countywide and nationally.

I would recommend you watch for the event next year so you can go along and enjoy a step back in time!

 Higher Biddacott Farm


Bampfield Farm

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