DSA Summer Barbecue 08/07/15 7:30PM

bbqThis Wednesday, (8th July) the DSA is holding it’s annual barbecue, at John and Penny Hooton’s holding in Llangynog, The fun starts at 7.30pm and this year is free, to include Burgers, buns, sausages, tea, coffee and soft drinks.

A contribution to communal table, in form of salads and sweets would be appreciated.

Bring something to sit on, something to eat from & with, and something to drink from. If people want to enjoy a tipple please bring your own.

Address & Directions available in Newsletter.


Report on Farm walk at Matthew & Debbie Kieboom’s holding

A breezy but dry day saw some 15 of us gather for a farm walk at Bwythyn Y Rhosyn, the home of Debbie and Matthew Kieboon. North of Cardigan and not far from the coast at Aberporth, their 5 acre holding is tucked away down a narrow lane. The first thing we saw as we came through the garden gate was the amazing straw-build round house. This is a work in progress with on-going work to the interior. The idea is to use the space to supplement the accommodation in the main house, this will be useful as they often have wwooffers to help on the holding. If anyone is interested in this building technique then contact Debbie or Matthew as they do hold working party days.

The holding carries a wide range of poultry from quail to geese and Debbie sells eggs from her “shopette” at the garden gate. At this time of year some of the ducks and geese were busy incubating clutches of eggs and we saw several family groups free ranging around the lawns. The main field is some two acres and the plan is to divide this into smaller paddocks to allow for more efficient management of the grazing. Most of the goats were happily grazing and browsing here apart from the billy who, in true goat fashion, had decided that the grass is always greener on the other side and had hopped over the fence! We were joined on our meander by the wethergoat “Baby Satan” who you may remember form Debbie’s talk earlier in the year – he was very gentle and curious and not at all satanical! Her herd is now closed and she has registered her stock to add value to any offspring sold; male kids are raised for meat and the milk produced is used in the house and processed into cheese and kefir. The animals are fed on an organic multi-species pellet bought in bulk from High Peak, Debbie has chosen this because the protein element is provided by peas and field beans rather than soya which she feels can pose a health risk to both the animal and ultimately yourselves as the end consumer. Sharing the paddock were several groups of breeding hens in their “hen tractors” these mobile house and run combinations allow for easy moving onto fresh grass the houses have slatted floors so the manure self-spreads and fertilises the ground. The houses were ingeniously constructed using a wide variety of reclaimed materials. Debbie keeps several breeds of chickens and rates Copper Marans very highly as well as the Bresse Gauloises, a dual purpose French breed with the hens laying a good number of buff eggs and the cockerels maturing at 20 weeks to give a 4 kg bird.

The field is bordered by an area of ancient woodland now in the process of being re-juvenated with plans to coppice. Sometime after they had moved in, Debbie’s father hacked through years of neglect only to discover a good sized pond which is now being enjoyed by the geese and ducks. They keep the auto-sexing Pilgrim and American Buff geese, as well as Muscovy and Welsh Magpie ducks. There were more poultry enclosures on the edge of the woodland with various hens including a rehabilitated s Silkie hen, nursed back to health after surviving a fox attack and Raymond Blanc another Bresse Gauloises cockerel. We wandered back up to the house through the vegetable patch; this had been raised beds but is now being converted to a no dig system as the paths between the original beds took too much maintenance. Cane fruit is grown along fences which support the plants and in turn the plants act as wind breaks. Debbie grows lots of herbs including lemon balm and mint which she cuts and dries to feed to her goats during the winter. The heavily laden fig tree was admired and envied in equal measure!

Matthew did a sterling job providing tea and coffee when we retired to the round house for our picnic lunch, and yet again I came away inspired and with some good ideas to try at home – not to mention a dozen guinea fowl eggs that are now in the incubator!

By Claire Wadley

March 2015 Meeting

Are goats for you? This month’s talk is for anyone who keeps goats, has thought about goats, or simply wonders about goats. Debbie Kieboom will be coming along to answer all you questions on Wednesday, 11th March, 2015, 8:00pm at the Gremlin Club Carmarthen. See you there!

DSA AGM 2015

DSA’s Annual General Meeting will be held on the 11th of February 2015, and we’d really like you to be there! Whilst AGMs might not seem to be the most interesting of our meetings, they are perhaps the most important. This is your Association, and this is your chance to have your say. You’ll get to hear how the year has gone, and be a part of electing a new committee, (including you if you like!) The meeting is on the 11th of February at the normal time and place, 8.00 PM, The Gremlin Club, Carmarthen.

New Year Lunch

The DSA New Year Lunch will be on Sunday 25th January at Tafarn Pantydderwen in Llangain, which is about 5 miles out of Carmarthen on the Llanstephan road. One two or three course lunch at £8.95, £12.50, £15.95. Bookings to Liz Phillips, Treasurer by January 20th please. Contact details can be found on our Contact Page

January Meeting

Our monthly meeting will be an auction conducted by professional auctioneer Nigel Hodson. This is your opportunity to sell on all those Christmas presents you don’t want, or any items you no longer need. If small enough then bring them along. For larger items and livestock leave them at home but bring along a good picture and description of the item. You may also bring along a promise to auction. The DSA will charge you 10% commission, minimum £1, of the selling price of the item with the option to give more if you wish. So get into those barns and sheds and start looking for those potential money spinners.

The auction will take place on Wednesday, 14th. January, 2015, 8:00pm at the Gremlin Club Carmarthen. See you there.

Christmas Social

This month there is no formal meeting, instead we are having a social evening. There is no door fee so you will save yourself £1 by coming. Instead of buying a raffle ticket if you bring a present for the “pot” then you will receive a drawer ticket. Please bring something for the communal food table and be prepared to join in with the beetle drive and quiz for which I believe there is an alcoholic prize (that is a bottle, not a person!)

Our social takes place  on Wednesday, 10th December, 8:00pm, at the Gremlin club Carmarthen. See you there.

Report on October meeting

October’s talk came from Judy Lewis and Peat Gleed of the Dexter Cattle Society. Judy spoke first, and described how she and her husband Rhidian bought their first Dexter cow in calf in 1975, and within a few years had increased their herd to 4 cows and a bull. At this point the breed was at serious risk of dying out, as there were only 79 registered cows, and 17 bulls. The good news is that since then numbers have increased markedly; in 2013 there were 2001 registered cows and 111 bulls.
Dexters are a small, hardy breed and seem to be as equally at home on 1300 foot hills as they are on lowland pasture. The price of animals can vary between £300-£1000, and in large part depends on whether or not the animal is registered. This brought Judy on to the point that if you are interested in starting with Dexters, you must think long and hard about what you want/need, and pick the animal that is right for you and your farm. As an example, Dexters come in both short and long-legged varieties. If your land is very wet and boggy, then probably the longer-legged cows will be better. Judy stated that it’s important to avoid breeding a short-legged cow with a short-legged bull as it leads to increased chance of ‘bull dog calves’ – a form of chondrodysplasia which is a fatal genetic mutation. This is thought to have come about due to the breed’s previously very small gene pool in the 1970s, however a blood test for carrier cows is available.
If you decide to take the plunge with Dexters, as with any other animal, take care when choosing. It can often be better to buy straight from a farmer rather than a market. This gives you chance to see them on their home territory, and get an idea of farm standards.
Despite the initial cost for a pedigree animal, Judy said that her cows have always earned their own living. They’ll happily live outside all year round, so long as they have a good hedge or a field shelter, so feed costs are low. Judy & Rhidian’s beef is sold purely through word of mouth and the cows are good milk converters, 4-5 gallons a day is not unknown.
Peat Gleed, then gave us a whistle-stop tour of the use of Dexters for conservation grazing. Due to their hardy nature, they’re ideally suited for poor quality grazing, such as heaths, and moorland. Similarly because of their small size, they work well on ground which needs to be managed sensitively.
All in all, this was a really interesting talk from both Judy and Peat, which raised a great deal of interest and discussion from all of the members present. Many thanks to both of you.


By Liz Phillips

November Meeting

32834This Wednesday, 12th November, there will be a talk by the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service on the topic of fire safety.  As many of us live in fairly remote locations some distance from the nearest fire station, it is a subject that has relevance to many members.  So come along and learn what you can do to protect yourselves! Normal time, normal place, Gremlin Club Carmarthen @ 8:00PM. See you there.

Important! Schmallenberg virus research request

Dear Dyfed Smallholders
My name is Chloe Graham and I am a veterinary student at the Royal Veterinary College, London. As part of my final year research project, I am undertaking a questionnaire based research study about the Schmallenberg virus. Schmallenberg virus had a lot of attention in the media last year, however little has been heard about it since.My family and I own a small flock of sheep (and are members of the Somerset Smallholders Association). Our flock was fortunate enough to escape the virus, but we know several people whose livestock was affected by the disease. Therefore, I have decided to investigate the Schmallenberg virus to see if it still has to be considered a relevant threat to the livestock community, and also the success uptake of available preventative options. My study results will hopefully provide an indication if further research into Schmallenberg is necessary required justified. I would very much appreciate if you could forward the link below out to your members of Dyfed Smallholders.  It is on surveymonkey and should only take 5 minutes to complete.  Any information provided will remain confidential, and only anonymised information will be shared with the Royal Veterinary College in the final report.  There is the option at the end of the for respondents to leave their email address so I can send them the final report. Link to Schmallenberg Virus Livestock Owner Questionnaire https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8X3TTZ7If you have any questions, please do contact me, either by email or phone, 07964 085344.  I look forward to hearing from you and am grateful for your time. Kind regards, Chloe Graham