When we first arrived at Parkhill, the field was arable and had been for at least 30 years. The woods surrounding the house were all overgrown and full of Rhododendron and Laurel, and the beautiful Walled Garden was (and still is) a mess, having not grown a crop for at least 20 years, save for the heritage apple trees.
Our plan was simple – pigs in the woods, herbivores on the fields, hens everywhere. But what kinds? As long-standing supporters of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, we knew we wanted to have traditional breeds that were fit for purpose and which would fit with our philosophy of minimal intervention.
Our livestock does change as we learn more, but we started with hens, then along came pigs and goats, and then sheep. Ducks followed, and then our cattle arrived. We now realise we need to rationalise a bit, so fast forward a couple of years and we have a larger flock of hens and sheep but no cattle.