Helen and Peat Gleed were our welcoming hosts at their very unique holding. In order to get there we had to negotiate a muddy churned up length of farm track until we came to a gate whereupon we entered, and, like Narnia, were at once transported into another world of low gorse bushes, heathers and many interesting plants, including the bog asphodel. The clean and tidy track took us over the 33 acres of common land upon which Helen and Peat have grazing rights for their two horses and small herd of mainly red Dexter cattle.
We passed through another gate to enter their holding and were greeted by our hosts and their tidy holding and a beautiful garden to be proud of. Our hosts had prepared a gazebo in front of the garage for our benefit. Doug and I arrived early with the barbecue and got it fired up ready for the event. Amanda arrived with some tasty onion soup she had made with onions left over from the previous BBQ and very tasty it was too.
Joan H and Amanda went to town on baking for the table. The strawberry and cream meringues and the courgette and lemon curd cup cakes looked most inviting. I could only admire, but Joan very kindly made a gluten free cake with me in mind.
After we had satisfied our hunger, we were invited on tour around the holding. We were introduced to the two Welsh Cobs who were sharing a field with the sheep. Peat had intended to give us an equine timber hauling demonstration, but the horse became ill with a viral infection. Now recovered but convalescing.
The holding has benefited from Tir Gofal funding which has helped with some capital costs. The farm building was purpose built with the stables at the top end, the cattle in middle portion, with a generous hay loft. Instead of expensive “Galebreaker” curtains, Peat came up with the idea of using scaffold mesh netting which he threaded onto narrow ratchet straps using the ready-made perforations on the sides, which then became top and bottom. Tensioned up they minimise rain ingress and wind adding greatly to animal comfort. The pigs, no longer kept, were housed at the lower end and could come and go to the adjacent woodland. The sheep now use it at lambing time.
Peat is a dab hand at engineering and fabricating his own equipment, including a Dexter sized crush and a perfect scaled down side flinging muck spreader. Near the shed is a small plantation of various varieties of willow that Helen’s brother grows and harvests for his basket making business.
The fields are in very good heart and Peat finds it easier to manage them now that he doesn’t have to adhere to Tir Gofal rules.
The holding gives me the impression of being a well kept secret in an idyllic spot. Thank you Helen and Peat. Some of us came away with some of your good ideas in mind; I know it has given me food for thought on my new planting projects.
By Wendy Rowland.