These past few months have been intense, to say the least.
Moving home is no small feat, and when you have to move an entire farm, plus a meat business, animals and all, together with cumbersome heavy machinery it can be all-encompassing, overwhelming and pretty stressful.
Moving to Dalditch Farm has taken some grit and determination from the whole family and our lovely staff members, but we’re getting there.
After months of preparing the new farm to receive us, we moved over our herd of cows and flock of sheep on March 31, to reduce stress on the pregnant ewes, and to give them time to settle comfortably into the new farm ready for lambing.
This was immediately followed by the relocation of our freezer containers, meat stocks, packing facilities, machinery, tools, equipment and of course, our team. We had to be ready to pack orders from Dalditch on April 11, so there was no time to come up for air.
We were fulfilling orders from our farm in Ilminster on the Thursday before the move, and then we had to get everything ready on the new farm over the Easter weekend ready to pack customer orders on Tuesday. It was quite a monumental task.
Our activities are now centred at Dalditch, and we are working tirelessly to continue building the provisions into the farm needed to fully support our activities and plans for the future. There have been plenty of hiccups along the way it has to be said! After a 12-week wait, our internet connection has finally been switched on to the Devon farm – we’d been having to drive to the top of the hill and tether our phones to download orders up until now!
Ollie has been commuting every day to Devon. With all the focus on the farm, the house had been put on the back burner. Now work has begun on the new house, so for the time being the family is living in Ilminster.
The livestock fencing, while suitable for docile dairy cattle, can’t quite stand up to our excitable beef cattle and curious sheep! On two occasions now the animals have escaped the boundaries of the farm. The first time it happened our cattle managed to make their way onto the East Budleigh Common, before returning of their own accord, phew! And in another incident, a small group of cattle took a short visit to the neighbouring town of Budleigh Salterton after getting through a gap in the fence when our backs were turned. Before we realised the cows were even missing, a friendly neighbouring farmer managed to round them up for us and bring them back to Dalditch. Not the way we expected to introduce ourselves!
As a family, we plan to move to Dalditch in July. While we’re still living there, the Ilminster farm shop and click-and-collect service will remain open until that time. Currently, we are brooding all of our chicks for the season at the Ilminster farm while work is underway to create the facilities to raise them at Dalditch.
This coming year will see us making Dalditch fit for our needs. This includes building a new order packing facility, shop and collection point, chick brooder shed and generally adapting buildings and spaces. Not forgetting, re-fencing the whole farm.
We’re at the very beginning of our journey but we were excited to be here.
The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, which Dalditch borders, are rich in biodiversity, and we’re constantly reminded of how special this farm is. While bordering the National Nature Reserve on two sides, we can also look out at the sea at Budleigh Salterton on the other side.
Dalditch farm is well connected to the neighbouring towns and the city of Exeter, yet it feels totally remote.
Working in harmony with the natural landscape and growing the farm in a way that promotes the ecology of the area will be an ongoing project for us at Farm2Fork.
For all the headaches and sleepless nights, and being one of the biggest changes in our lives, this move will all be worth it.