Two Years Of Change On The Farm

It was Easter 2017 when we took ownership of the farm. At that time, only the farmhouse had been well maintained. Lived in by an elderly couple, the farm had simply become too much for them. The garden was a tangle of ivy, the woods left to be consumed by bramble and blackthorn, and the barns were falling into a state of disrepair.

The garden was unloved
The garden is still awaiting landscaping but the old greenhouse and fencing have gone

We planned to turn the old milking parlor into an annexe for mum, but had a year long wait before work started. In the mean time, we started work on the land and garden. First on the list was to remove an enormous Scotts Pine tree from the orchard. It cast the vegetable garden, orchard and much of the garden into deep shade. There were also a vast number of leylandii we had to remove from the garden. Though clearly intended to be kept ornamental, they’d been neglected and grown out of control.

The orchard with vegetable garden behind was shaded out by the enormous Scotts pine
The grass meadow with garden, orchard and vegetable garden completely hidden and shaded out by a large number of trees
Felling the huge Scotts Pine
Light floods the garden for the first time in at least a decade
The orchard doing well two years after the pine was removed
The vegetable garden in use once again following the removal of an enormous Scotts Pine tree

Our local farmer helped us bring the hedgerows under control. Three and sometimes four meters of dense bramble and blackthawn sprawled from both sides of the Cornish stone wall hedge. Once the birds had fledged we took it back to where it should be, and watched as the bluebells and meadow flowers began once more to flourish.

With horses happily grazing one of the two fields to keep it under control, we decided to turn the other field over to nature. We let the grass grow tall, and mowed paths (and a labyrinth) so we can walk among it. Purple orchids have appeared and a glorious array of grasses and wild flowers. Bees, butterflies and grass hoppers are now in abundance and the children love making mini beast discoveries.

Skipping down the mown paths in the grass meadow
The mown paths and labyrinth clearly visible from the air

Our most recent task was clearing the woods. Penetrating the blackthorn and bramble was a nasty job. It took some heavy duty equipment and a lot of splinters, but eventually we revealed a beautiful woodland. The canopy floor was just waiting to burst into life. When we let the light in, snow drops, daffodils and bluebells stood tall. We’re excited to see what the future holds for the woodland, and just to make sure we don’t miss it, we’ve put a Finnish kota (a wooden tipi with open fire) on the site of an old shed in the heart of the woods.

The woodland dense with bramble and black thorn, plus a few overgrown willow
The woodland cleared and looking like a proper coppice
The shed in the woods had been lost in the overgrowth
Our Finnish Kota where the old shed once stood

It’s a joy to see the land thriving after what’s been a couple of years of vision and hard work. As the annexe for mum nears completion, we’ll soon turn our attention to the farmhouse, transforming it into our perfect family home.

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