Blog Articles

Calf Rearing at Broome Park Farm
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
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
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...
Gathering Sheaves
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...
Cleobury Open Gardens
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...
Signs of Summer
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...
My 'Swiss' Border
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.
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
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
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...
Room with a View
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
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
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
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.
Witley Court
Today I visited Witley Court for the first time in over 20 years. Owned by English Heritage, this evocative ruin is a relic of a long gone era. The house, when owned by the Earl of Dudley, was a rake’s paradise, home to lavish parties that lasted for days, a favourite haunt of the Prince of Wales, Edward VII. Partly ravaged by fire in the 1950′s and ransacked by bounty hunters the house is now a magnificent ruin.   The gardens have been lovingly restored and the 9 acre lake reinstated, a must see is the Perseus and Andromeda Fountain, firing a jet of water over 70ft into the air, it is only working between 1st April and end of October – today there were men in high viz jackets cleaning it out! I will certainly be returning soon to see the fountain in action....
Handmade Patchwork Quilt
I have finally finished this patchwork quilt to go in the Green guest room. A wonderful lady, Marilyn Howells, came and talked to Neen Savage WI in July and really inspired me to start a quilt. Mad as I am I decided on a double quilt which it has taken until now to complete! The patches have been machine pieced but I have hand quilted around each triangle – definitely a labour of love! The back is a bit of a disgrace – Marilyn will not be impressed – but I think the front is great and the colours will look fantastic in the Green bedroom.
After attacking (sorry – pruning!) the shrubbery at the front of the house, John has now decided to lay the hedge between the paddock and the big field. This is a long overdue task as the hedge currently resembles a line of straggly trees. Hopefully laying it will encourage new growth and provide more ground cover for birds and insects. The only downside may be that the paddock is more windswept – it certainly was today when I took John a well deserved cup of coffee!
Spring Bunting
I have spent the last few Tuesday evenings making bunting for the Severn Hospice Shop in Cleobury. A group of friends have been meeting throughout the winter to quilt and Jayne volunteered our services! First we made yards of red bunting for the Valentine’s Day window display – see it in the shop now! Next we were asked for Spring colours for the 1st anniversary party at the shop on April 9th so this is the result of our labours – I must say we think it looks fantastic – come along on the 9th to see it up! (Crooked Steeple Morris are also dancing to help the celebrations!).
Hello 2011!
I have finally found something to blog about this year! I always like to offer guests a selection of cereals, local yoghurt from the Dairyhouse at Weobley and this morning fresh fruit salad, all laid out on the dresser. A new touch for this year are the sparkley lights a la Nigella Lawson! I put them up for Christmas but they look so good I have decided to leave them – it brightens the room!
Boxing Day Walk
After a very enjoyable but lazy Christmas Day we headed out for our annual Boxing Day walk. This year we took the easy option and decided to walk along the lanes as the ground was still very snowy. At the Ford we came across John’s brother and cousins who had been checking out the river. The River Rea had frozen completely upstream of the Ford and they had been testing the ice – it was possible to walk under the bridge – not something to be recommended and something I wouldn’t have attempted except for the tractor and the fact that it had already been tested! However I got quite a buzz from saying I had walked on water!
A Tasty Christmas
Here at Broome Park Farm I am planning the tastiest Christmas ever! Yesterday I travelled through fog and ice to Denman College, home of the WI to see Mary Berry demonstrate tried and trusted Christmas recipes with a twist, I will definitely be trying her mincemeat galette – shortbread, mincemeat, marzipan and apples. Today the weather was glorious (but very cold!) and I travelled to Strefford Hall Farm Shop for a Discover Local Tasty Christmas event. We walked around the farm, looking at the beef, sheep and hens they keep to supply the farm shop then retreated to the warmth of the farmhouse kitchen for a delicious meal made from Christmas leftovers, expertly prepared by Simon Smith – The Shropshire Chef. After lunch Simon demonstrated how he had prepared lunch and...
Broome Park Farm Apple Juice
I am now able to offer our own apple juice all year – or as long as my stocks allow! Last week I took bags of our apples to a nice young man in Bewdley who has pressed them and pasteurised the juice. I collected 104 bottles today and couldn’t wait to taste the juice – it is delicious – not too sweet but not too sharp either and a lovely pale golden colour! I have had some labels printed and I must say the bottles look very smart, together with the oversize postcards and fridge magnet calenders I got free with the order! Off to the first of our Christmas band gigs tonight with our new Musical Director – Looking forward to lots of mince pies!
Hard Landscaping
John has finally agreed to cut back some of the shrubs and trees at the front of the house, my preference was for a total replant but at the moment he has reduced everything by about 50% and I will see what grows back in the spring! Hopefully this drastic pruning will improve the views from the guest bedrooms and also has led to the discovery of an extra foot of drive! Already it seems lighter in the dining room, despite the gloomy weather at the moment.
Ironbridge Gorge Museums
Yesterday I spent a very enjoyable day at Blists Hill Victorian Town, part of the Ironbridge Gorge group of Museums. The day had been organised to show off the latest enhancements to the town, a living museum reflecting life at the turn of the 20th Century. The pharmacy shown featured on the recent TV series ‘Victorian Pharmacy’ and I enjoyed chatting to the candlemaker in his tiny workshop.   There is so much to see just at Blists Hill – children of all ages love to change their money at the Bank then spend it in the shops, particularly the sweet shop and newly opened fish and chip shop! However Blist Hill is only 1 of 10 award winning museums located around this World Heritage site, home to the birth of the Industrial Revolution. The museums range from...