Woodcock Farm comprises 36 acres of grazing, meadows and woodland - we have sheep and pigs and raise our own lamb and pork, as well as lots poultry for free-range eggs
You are, of course, welcome to walk the footpaths around the fort and the Cotswold Way, which crosses right over the land. From Woodcock Farm, you can follow this or some of the other footpaths all the way to Bath or up well into the Cotswolds to its start at Chipping Campden.
If you would like to see the farmyard and meet the animals, do ask and we will happily show you around. We usually feed the chickens and collect eggs around 4pm - come and help!
We have several horses; Jason is a keen event rider so has his competition horse Barley, who we bred ourselves. Jags and Tinker are family horses, who provide lots of entertainment for the rest of us. Tinker has taught most of the younger members of our family to ride – so if you’ve got little people who love ponies just let us know.
Our lamb is mostly pedigree Black Welsh Mountain, which thrive on the lush grass during the summer and help to keep the scrub down on the barrows and forage well in winter. They help maintain the condition of the fort and this means our wild flowers and hay crops thrive. They are excellent mothers and usually produce healthy sets of twins. They lamb in our barn, so if you stay with us in March and April there are always some gorgeous little bouncing lambs to see and you might even be lucky enough to see some being born.
The meat this breed produces is delicious, as they grow more slowly than the more commercial breeds. This creates a low-fat meat, which is tender but with a really great flavour.
One day, we need to learn how to use the beautiful fleece they produce. The wool is naturally black and can be either woven or spun… another learning curve we suspect!
We are still deciding which native breed is our favourite! So far we have had Gloucester Old Spot, Tamworth, Berkshire and Large Black. Each has its own speciality, so it has been very hard to choose!
Our pigs live outside and are free to roam around their paddock and arcs. They have a high-welfare feed, as well as lots of apples and veggies which come from a local greengrocer at the end of the day.
The meat they produce is delicious – the best crackling we have ever had! We have also found our favourite sausage flavours after some experimentation so do ask if you’d like to try some – our freezer is usually full.
Chickens, ducks and geese
We have a large paddock, where we are planting an orchard and in which our poultry roam, as well as our special ‘garden chickens’ who waddle around the lawns looking beautiful!
There are lots of different breeds to see as we love to have a pretty flock. They lay different colour eggs from pure white to almost chocolate brown. We have recently added a Legbar breed which lay naturally blue eggs.
The ducks are a mixture of Khaki Campbells, Runners and Cayugas. They love to puddle in the long grass and splash in their paddling pool. Their eggs are larger than chickens, with a much richer flavour – like adding cream! They make the best cakes, but are also delicious with asparagus or just on toast.
All eggs are available to purchase during your stay (assuming the girls have been busy), so please do let us know if you would like to try some.
Our geese are a new addition – we hatched the eggs in the spring and the goslings then ‘imprinted’ on us for a while and would follow us around as they thought we were ‘Mum’. They are probably the sweetest and cutest babies we’ve ever had… time will tell if they stay this way! Hopefully they will start to lay towards the end of the summer or early next spring.