New Puppy at Broome Park Farm by Catherine Evans :: 05th December 2011

Great excitement this weekend – we have a new puppy! He is 8 weeks old and we collected him yesterday. His mother is a black labrador and his father a working sheep dog. As yet he has no name as my children can’t agree! He seems very contented, spending most of his time snoozing infront of the fire! I’m sure that will all change though as he grows!

Calf Rearing at Broome Park Farm by Catherine Evans :: 16th November 2011

As the nights are drawing in and there is less to do in the fields John has bought 20 calves to rear ‘on the bucket’. These are calves from dairy cows which are surplus to requirements so we buy them in and hand rear them. They will be fed powdered calf milk for the first 3 – 4 weeks then graduate onto a milled mix until the Spring when they will go out into the fields. These are friesian crosses but my favourites are the charolais calves which look just like teddy bears!

Apple Picking by Catherine Evans :: 24th October 2011

This year has been a fantastic year for apples – I have never seen so many on all the trees! I have picked sacks and sacks to make juice and now have over 200 bottles safely stored in the cellar ready for guests. Next weekend is our annual cidermaking day so John and I spent yesterday afternoon collectiing cider apples ready for pressing and again there were so many to see on all the trees that they will never all be picked! We are 2 regulars down this year and as Richard is not home to supervise me I don’t hold out great hopes for the 2011 vintage! 2010 was a cracking year so a lot to live up to!!

Berrington Hall by Catherine Evans :: 22nd August 2011

Guests often wish to visit local National Trust properties and I always recommend Croft Castle and Berrington Hall, which can both be visited in a day and the NT offer a special deal to visit both properties. However I had never visited Berrington Hall so yesterday John and I went. It was a lovely sunny day and as the house doesn’t open til 1pm we started by walking around the parkland, designed by Capability Brown. Next was lunch in the old servants quarters then a self guided tour of the house. The small scale of the house meant it was easy to imagine the families living there. We caught the laundry section of the ‘Below Stairs’ tour and were disappointed not to go on the full tour – something not to be missed if you visit – perhaps next time for us! The walled garden was beautifully planted with easy care perennials and the apple trees were laden with fruit. Well worth a visit!

Gathering Sheaves by Catherine Evans :: 15th August 2011

The sun is already shining this morning and it looks like it might be a fine week! Hopefully we will be able to crack on with the harvest. Yesterday John cut me sheaves of wheat and barley for the Church Harvest Festival – something I don’t usually remember until it’s too late! I just need to remind him to get some barley too. There are still no baby chicks so I think the hen has been wasting her time! The Aberdeen Angus heifer is off to the abattoir this week and after hanging for 21 – 28 days will return as tasty joints and steaks to feed us through next year!

There is an abundance of plums, raspberries and damsons in the garden so I am frantically making jams and preserves and now have some for sale in the B&B so don’t forget to buy a jar or two if you come to stay!

Cleobury Open Gardens by Catherine Evans :: 08th August 2011

I spent a very enjoyable afternoon yesterday touring a selection of private gardens in and around Cleobury. They ranged from the absolutely stunning to the quirky, each one with something different to comment on and inspire. I came away with lots of ideas but not sure if any will come to fruition!

The harvest is a bit hit and miss at the moment – when the weather is fine nothing is dry enough or ripe enough to combine, as soon as it is – it starts to rain! All the malting barley has now been collected and hopefully will soon be made into delicious Hobson’s Ales, my favourite being Twisted Spire.

One of the cockerels went to a new home on Saturday – I hope the girls won’t miss him too much! There are 2 young cockerels amongst the chicks we hatched out at Easter and there are 3 more eggs due to hatch out any day now – fingers crossed they are all hens!

Signs of Summer by Catherine Evans :: 29th July 2011

Whilst out walking this week I haven’t had to use the bridge to cross the Ford just below Broome Park. On Tuesday there was absolutely no water going over it at all! This is a sign of how dry this year has been, whilst it hasn’t been particularly warm or sunny it has definitely been exceptionally dry.

The combine finally left the shed this week and has been busy harvesting barley, some for animal feed and some for the local Brewery – Hobsons, so hopefully it will be used in some award winning beer! (And we will get some free samples!). The chap from the Maltsters was here today to take a sample and check it is suitable. Only 1 variety, Maris Otter, is generally used for malting, but this has a lower yield than the more commercial varieties so the jury is still out on whether we will grow it again next year!

Rain stopped harvest today but hopefully the weather will be better over the weekend and we can start on the wheat.

My 'Swiss' Border by Catherine Evans :: 25th July 2011

I created this border, as you approach the house, last summer, when I had some Swiss friends staying and so it has become known as my ‘Swiss’ border! I have planted it full of bee friendly plants and have noticed no end of bees and butterflies enjoying the flowers. The photo doesn’t really do it justice!

Yesterday Sandra and I finally managed to paint the queen in one of our hives – we actually felt like proper beekeepers for a moment! Still no sign of the queen in the other hive but there are lots of bees and lavae so she must be in there somewhere! There also seemed to be a reasonable amount of honey so hopefully we will be able to extract some more towards the end of August.

Iceland by Catherine Evans :: 22nd July 2011

Sorry I haven’t blogged for ages but we have been on the ‘holiday of a lifetime’! Hence the photo of a glacial lake in Iceland! This is Jokulsarlon and the opening sequence of the James Bond movie ‘Golden Eye’ was filmed here. It was my absolutely favourite place amongst the host of extraorinarily beautiful and amazing places we visited.

Other highlights were The Blue Lagoon – an outdoor geothermal spa; Hotel Anna where we lazed in the hot tub and enjoyed excellent local food and Akureyri, the capital of the North, where we ended up when part of the Ring Road was washed away and we had to do a 600 mile detour the opposite way round the island. Certainly a holiday to remember and somewhere I would love to return to!

Sheep Shearing by Catherine Evans :: 28th May 2011

The weather hasn’t been too bad today so John decided it was time our ewes were sheared! Fortunately there are only 6 so it didn’t take too long. Some of the fleeces will be kept for spinning or felt making and the rest will be sold – not that they are worth much, less than the cost of paying someone to shear them! Hopefully the weather will stay mild now so they don’t get cold!

A Taste of the Shropshire Hills by Catherine Evans :: 20th May 2011

Had a great day out today, courtesy of Jodie at the Shropshire Hills AONB. The day was titled ‘Organic Farm to Fork’ and we started with a visit to Rhos Fiddle Nature Reserve, an SSSI managed by Shropshire Wildlife Trust, high in the Shropshire Hills. The views are stunning and it is so peaceful. Part of the management is the grazing of highland cattle – an unusual sight in the Shropshire countryside! The cattle are owned by local organic farmer, Trevor Wheeler, who introduced us to his cattle and hebridean sheep on the hillside, then took us to his farm a little way down the valley. This organic mixed farm trades as Clun Valley Organics, supplying meat and vegetables through local shops and farmers markets. We also viewed the eco cottage located on the farm, fully self sufficient with a wind turbine and solar hot water panels.

After a delicious lunch made by Zara from Myriad Organics in Ludlow we headed for Daysdrove Abattoir in Bishops Castle to see the next stage of the journey from farm to fork.  It was interesting to tour the building and see the care taken to ensure animals are slaughtered humanely. The business prides itself on the fact that animals have low food miles and are of a high quality.

Finally we visited Andrew Pugh, the local butcher, who gave a very informative demonstration on how to cut up and present a forequarter of beef, one of the less popular parts of the animal. To finish he produced samples of slow cooked chuck beef and salt cured brisket, both of which were delicious, but the salt beef was devine! Something I will try to reproduce at home!

Room with a View by Catherine Evans :: 14th May 2011

When you come at stay at Broome Park Farm the rooms have a fantastic view over open countryside towards Neen Savage. However I can’t promise you will always get a view as dramatic as this! It was a double rainbow, with 1 arc behind the tree but I’ve only captured this view!

Meet Blossom and Davina by Catherine Evans :: 28th April 2011

Here are our 2 newest arrivals, Davina and Blossom, whom we collected on Tuesday. They are still a bit nervous but seem quite happy with their noses in the trough! Hopefully we will soon have some baby chicks too as one of the hens is sitting on some eggs. The weather here has been fantastic recently, if any thing we are desperate for rain, particularly for the grass to grow into a good hay and silage crop.

All the lambs are now out in the paddock, although 1 ewe has yet to lamb – not sure if she will now! So far we have 9 kerry cross lambs and 2 orphans I have been bottle feeding with the help of lots of young guests!

New Lambs for Spring 2011 by Catherine Evans :: 27th March 2011

These are the first lambs born this year at Broome Park. Once again the kerry cross shows in the black markings on their faces and knees. Mum was a little reluctant at first but hopefully she has now taken to motherhood and they won’t need to be bottle fed! There are 5 more ewes to lamb over the next few days – exciting times – hopefully they will all be twins!

The lovely Spring weather last week has brought the bees out of the hive and we were very pleased to find a healthy colony when we took a look last weekend! Now we must keep an eye on them to prevent them swarming like last year.

Shropshire Gold by Catherine Evans :: 12th March 2011

I have spent the last few months working on a new website and smart phone apps to promote rural accommodation in Shropshire. Our new website Shropshire Gold went live yesterday! The aim has been to bring together places to stay, visit and eat and also suggest themed itineraries to help visitors get the most out of their visit to Shropshire. Take a look at the site and see what you think!

Apps will be available for all types of smart phone over the next few weeks and they will be FREE to download via my site or the Shropshire Gold site.

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