Denbury Farm Blog


Our life at Denbury Farm 14th April 2018

Two badger cubs with their mother came out of the sett last night, full of mischief causing their mother a few problems. The roe buck was feeding just a few feet from the sett entrance where they came out from. One of the cubs never seeing a deer before went to investigate, nearly touching noses. The deer didn’t bother with it for a little while but it soon got bored with the cubs antics. It threw its head sideways causing the cub to leg it back to mum, leaving the buck to carry on feeding. The cub went back again, this time the buck was having none of it and with its head catching the cub with its antlers causing it to roll over. It did look for an instant that the cub had been injured. Back with its mother under protest this time she decided to get them back into the sett. No way they must have been thinking, as she was pushing them in they were struggling to get out of the sett entrance. Finally she got them both back into the sett for a few minutes. I reckon whilst back in the sett the two cubs were conspiring against the deer, for once they were out the two of them rushed toward the buck making him to leg it away. We didn’t see the buck any more last night.

After over 15 years we never get bored with watching the webcams. Other than short periods in winter time there is always something happening This spring the feeding area has been particularly busy and exciting. As many as four deer at any one time, one or two feeding at the same time as a couple of the badgers. The vixen tries to sneak in for a little feed, she is defiantly at the bottom of the pecking order with both the deer and the badgers chasing her off. In saying a couple times this week one of the badgers has been feeding with the vixen.

From a distance last week I thought I saw a couple of fox cubs in the edge of the wood investigating whatever they investigate at that age. It needs to get a bit warmer, then fox cubs will be out a lot more and playing. Although at a distance from us but well within our sight, with the vixen watching close by knowing we are there but of no danger to them. Its going to be an eyeful when the fox cubs visit the already busy feeding area.

We have two pair of Geese nesting this year. Our regulars on the larger lake and a new pair on our new lake. The new pair had to work hard to convince the swan to accept them, but grudgingly and still bickering a little they have managed to start nesting.

At last today we have seen a whole day of warm sun. It hasn’t stopped raining for the past 3 months, so today was not expected. On nearly 30years It’s been by far the wettest winter we have ever experienced at Denbury. The fields are sodden and for sure the horses won’t be going out on the first of May as usual. It far too wet. For the first time for many years we made haylage at the beginning of Autumn last year. (hay not quite dry and wrapped in a poly rap) Just as well we did as today we were down to our last three bales of hay, a little over a week’s supply. Our contractor got the haylage in off of the field. After a few months on hay it is a treat as you can see on the webcam they are enjoying it. It should get us though until the second week of May.

Our Life At Denbury Farm 26th March 2018

You can see that these two mothers are feeding young. The badgers from our sett and the vixen who comes to the sett for its regular feed. We reckon there are at least six badgers in the sett plus their cubs. As a bonus a buck roe deer losing his velvet. It’s going to be a busy feeding station.

Our Life at Denbury Farm 18th March 2018

 

To our relief our Llamas have tested negative to TB. I must admit we are very surprised that not even one had it. More so with the history of bovine tb on the dairy farm next door to us, and that Llama are very susceptible to the disease. Not only is a good for the Llama it is a good sign that the badgers in the area are tb free.The badger feeding area is getting very busy.

I don’t know how many are in the sett but we are seeing at least five different ones most nights. We reckon that some may have come from one of the satellite setts nearby. Last night the wildlife using the feeding area was magic. We had visiting Roe deer, fox and badger. Two deer were feeding when a badger came and joined them feeding. There was no arguments or running off, just animals laid back and feeding. It was a bit different when a fox showed its face whilst the deer were feeding a little later, the deer were having none of it. The fox was chased off so quick that it didn’t have time to get a mouthful. It did come back when the coast was clear and had agood feed. We are looking foreword to when the badger cubs are ready to show themselves. If the fox come with her cubs later in the year it will be an eyeful. We are so very fortunate  to have the wild life we do at Denbury.

The geese landed back on the lake a couple of weeks ago. Six flew in, just staying for two days. Not sure when but what we believe to be our two regulars flew in on the own next day and have stayed since. Last year for many a year there were no goslings. They nested but flew away a month or so later. There have been a lot of geese flying over the farm in recent days. It is a nice sound when they fly over honking. Many a morning when the mornings are lighter we are woken with their call.

We are having another dose of snow today. We rarely get snow in this part of the country. The last was a good few years ago. It so bad we couldn’t get off the farm for a week. It hasn’t been that bad but we are having a fair bit. We got the sheep inside on the first occasion, Just in time as it happened as the first night in they started to lamb. I will try this week to get the camera watching the sheep.

We heard the beginning of the dawn chorus this week and the first woodpecker, pecking a nest. The daffodils are budding and the snowdrops dying back’, Spring is on its way until the snow stopped it all.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Life At Denbury Farm 24th February 2018

 

I must be mad. Mrs Farmer had me up at 5.am to drive 25 miles to the RSPB Wetlands at Ham Wall, Meare this morning so she could do a little photography. The drive takes us across the Somerset Levels where in 2014 we had the major floods. First time that I have been that way since the floods. Usually every year the Levels would flood, not to the extents as 2014, but with the major work that has been done dredging the manmade canals and drains there were just small wet areas rather than the whole levels being, if not flooded at least underwater, especially with the very wet winter we have had this year. I cant imagine that the dredging has not been detrimental to the waterfowl in that part of the levels. There is another RSPB wetlands centre on this part of the levels. I had  never noticed it before, so we may look there next time.

What a beautiful  morning to go there, but it was it cold.  We could not have arrived at a better time, getting there just as the sun was rising. And what a beautiful sight it was. If nothing else it was worth getting up early just for that, but there was much more with the waterfowl. Widgeon, Snipe, Tufted Duck, Egret and much more.  Of course getting there at sunrise all was waking up with their calls, quacking, whistling and honking when the geese were flying over. We are going again in about two weeks time, trouble is that we will need to get up half an hour earlier.

Our Llama were given tuberculin on Monday two weeks back. We made a temporary race with two gates to confine them in at one at a time. It worked very well with them being very calm. Two decided that they didn’t want to hang about and jumped over the side rather than us opening the gate, one had been done the other the vet chased and managed to do on a lead rope. On Monday coming the vet will return and take blood samples for testing. Its then a week or so wait for the results.

Our Life At Denbury Farm 9th February 2018

 

Lots of different creatures like the Badger Sett and Badger removing old bedding

 

 

 

We are having the wettest winter on the farm that I can remember in the 30 years we have been here. The fields are sodden, walking on them they quickly turn to mud making it difficult to walk on and get the work done that we need to do in the winter. We waste our time every morning checking the BBC and the Met office forecasts for you can guarantee that an hour later it will be completely different. On Sunday it told us that it was going to be dry up to Thursday with showers Friday. It’s been the complete opposite.

The Badgers have not been eating a lot of the feed we leave out for them. They are definitely in the sett as the camera picks them up most nights taking bedding in and out for this year’s cubs that we are 99% sure are in the sett, and excavating new entrances and holes to the sett. The Deer show their selves most night eating the badger feed and we see the Fox now and then. We got an old badger camera working yesterday and laid another cable for a camera down the slope that we hope to get working in a week or so.

We received a letter from the Defra last week telling us that our Llama have to be tested for TB. We are not looking forward to it. All camalids, llama, alpaca, camels etc are very susceptible to the disease, so we are expecting the worse. Unfortunately it has to be done. More so as there is a dairy farmer next door whose fields are adjacent to ours. He accepts that badgers are not the only cause of bovine TB. He also didn’t join the badger cull, although. His herd has tested positive for TB on numerous occasions and his farm has been restricted on any movements. There are two farmers in our area who we know will kill and poison badgers, but most in our area know that bovine tb is spread by deer, sheep and other animals. The test on our llama is on Monday. They will have to be restrained, not an easy task with llama to be vaccinated with tuberculin. That the easy part. The hard part is between 10 and 30 days after when a blood sample will be taken and sent away for testing. If any test comes back positive the llama will have to be slaughtered. We have 10 llama that are all very special to us, but we are expecting most will test positive.

This link will give you some information, but it also proves without doubt that Defra, the NFU and Government are fully aware that many other animals carry and spread Bovine TB. http://www.tbhub.co.uk/non-bovines/

Our Life at Denbury Farm 22nd December 2017

 

Some good news, By the way that the Badgers are acting and changing their sett bedding we reckon that there may be a pregnant sow in one of our setts. They had cubs last year in a satellite sett that was confirmed by Bobbie and Fox, who saw youngsters whilst protecting the sett during the cull.

We started to get worried that the  badgers had moved out from the main sett as very little food was being taken, but as you can see Mrs Farmers new cameras showed they were still there and increasing the size of the sett, big time. The photographs were taken with a new trail cam that takes nigh time colour photographs and video that she has been able to get some good photographs of the fox and deer who have been regularly using the feed area. Some of the photos show the fox taking an interest in the badger sett. A few years ago both the badgers and fox used the sett to have their cubs. 

We got the horses in a couple of weeks ago. It would have been better if they could  have stayed out longer but the ground was very wet and Sprite who is no spring chicken was not very happy. It didn’t take long to get her head collar on, she was so eager to get in she nearly put it on herself. We did stable them one to a stable but now we have fenced off a large part of the big barn so they can be together. It seemed kinder to allow them to be together, they are able to walk around and groom each other, even if it is through their rugs. They bicker a bit at feed time. Maybe not bicker, more like musical chairs going from one pile of feed to another with the bigger and stronger always winning, but not realising the one they pushed out is eating just as much from another pile. 

Our Christmas day on the farm is not very different to any other day. We sit down with family for dinner, open presents and relax with a drink or two after feeding and bedding the animals. Mrs Farmer being a real gadget person decided on her present. She will be able to show more of our life on the farm. You will soon see.

All at Denbury Farm wish you all a very happy Christmas and a very prosperous new year. 

Our Life at Denbury Farm Blog 22nd November 2017

What I would like more than anything is for my farm blog to be happy, with nice things happening and nice thing to write about, but unfortunately with the filth that is about there always seems to be nasty things happening to the wildlife by evil people. The photographs of one of the two buzzards that have obviously been shot by missing flight feathers was taken a few weeks ago. I wasn’t able to put it into the blogs as it was being investigated by the wildlife crime police officer. He reported back to me by email yesterday.

The photograph was sent to the RSPB who are classed as experts, who confirmed it was without seeing the actual circumstances of the injury was caused by a shotgun. It has been recorded it on their system and added as a crime on the Avon and Somerset Police system ref No. – 5217266079 if in the unlikely event someone in the area witnessed the shooting, The RSPB’s last report about shot Buzzards in my area was in 2013. Not a one off incident and just two that have been witnessed. How many more that have not been.

Mrs Farmer and myself may well have witnessed the event without realising when on a walk down the valley with the dogs a few weeks back. We were watching the resident Buzzards on the thermals above Nigel Webbers Pitpear Farm, fields belonging to Halse Farm and our own Denbury. We heard a shotgun being fired close by. All three buzzards dropped and flew out of the area.

Most birds of prey as the Buzzard all though protected are regularly shot in the vicinity of organised shoots. A few years ago Prince Harry was questioned by the Police when two Hen Harriers were shot at Sandringham, one of the Queens estates. He was seen with a friend in the area at the time. The same thing happened very close by, just this August. Here is a link with Dirty Harry with his shotgun with pockets bulging with cartridges. Filth, and taxpayers support them. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4260298/rare-bird-hawk-sally-disappeared-prince-harry-sandringham/ Sorry, I have always been a royalist, but not when they kill for fun and pretend to be conservationist with Elephants and Rhinos. Why is the Hen Harriers or birds of Prey worth any less? Because they eat a few pheasants. Less for them to shoot.

There are two organised shoot on the Denbury Farm boundaries. Nigel Webbers at Pitpear Farm and Halse Farm. There is another just a little bit farther away. I can’t imagine how many pheasants they release for the shooting is constant on their shooting days.

The Horses in their new winter rugs that we changed today. The original ones we purchased were not as good as advertised and we sent them back. These new ones have neck pieces to keep them a little warmer. We have a gale blowing through the valley tonight so I reckon the horses will be well pleased with their new outfits. The is still quite a lot of grass for them to eat. With luck they will be able to stay out a few weeks more before bringing them in for the winter.

Our Life at Denbury Farm Blog 2nd November 2017

 

I wish they would stop messing about with the clocks going back and forward every year. Already it has taken us 3 days trying to get use to it and it will be a week or more to be able to fully get to the right time. The animals don’t know what time it is so we gradually change over the course of 10 days plus. Be great to get an extra hour lay in but unfortunately it would be on our minds and I wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing that the animals were waiting at the gates for breakfast.

The reasons they give for changing the clocks seem to change from one year to another. It use to be something to do with farming and the war years, but just recently it is because it will get dark so early in Scotland. What ever the reason it doesn’t do us a lot of good.

We are so fortunate to have the wildlife we have at Denbury. Three types of deer, two we see regularly, fox, badger, stoat, weasel, now and then the otter and so many species of birds that we loose count. We will put the bird feeder camera on over the next week. Unfortunately most birds on the farm don’t eat what we put out. A good few do.

In the spring of 2016, just after Springwatch we had a phone call from their production team who were considering Denbury as a Springwatch location. Unfortunately, maybe not unfortunately. The biggest problem would have been the very large artic lorries that would have needed to come. The location they chose had not all the wildlife that we have at Denbury, and I am not sure how we would be able to suffer the disruption to our life and how much it would disturb our wildlife 

Our Life at Denbury Farm Blog 28th October 2017

Today has been the first Pheasant Game shooting of the season at Pitpear Farm. Pitpear is adjacent to our property Denbury Farm. Many of you would be aware of my dislike of this evil pastime. I believe it to be by far the worst blood sport, bar none. Fox and Deer hunts are not acceptable and are already banned, or meant to be. Game shooting should be, but with the wealthy and royalty that participate in the evil pastime, it unfortunately will never. 

I cant imagine what pleasure people get in shooting pheasants and other game bird, (what a revolting name, game birds) It is meant to be a manly thing to do? LOL, although there are women who participate. (Shame on them) For sure there is no skill in shooting game birds. Shot gun cartridges used for game shooting are packed with as many as 410 small pellets, that spray out in a very large area making it nearly impossible to miss the bird they are trying to kill.  My conclusion is that they are wanabee soldiers, action men. 

I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian. Although I don’t like game shooting and would never participate even to eat, I will accept a person shooting who eats all he shoots, but most of the shoots like Pitpears Farm with Nigel Webber and his Son Robert Webber invite people to pay and join a syndicate to shoot on their land. Lots of shoots also do organised corporate days out for complete novices, who have never handled a shotgun let alone shot one that make it even more likely the birds will not be killed outright. Other than a few that are sold to restaurants and game outlets most of the games birds shot are dumped. Last year I found 40 birds dumped on the side of a local road.

The pheasants and game birds from the day they hatch, are reliant on man, they are fed and watered by them up to the day they are shot. They don’t see man as a threat as do deer, fox and rabbits who would take flight. Man to the birds are no threat what so ever. One day those they rely on send in dogs into woods, scrub, hedges and other places that is their sanctuary and refuge. They frighten them into the path of being murdered, by burning hot gun shot, making them fall from heights that alone would severely injure them, if not death. Many do not die instantly and I have found them alive on my property days after the shoots with gunshot injuries, broken wings and legs, limping and struggling trying to find feed that until they were shot would be put down by their murderers to keep them in their boundaries. We with some degree of success manage to entice a good number of the birds to a safe haven on our farm. 

Prince William and Harry and other so called royalty should set an example and not be two faced making out to be concerned with wildlife in Africa and beyond and stop murdering birds in the country they are meant to represent. The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed Harry was questioned on the Sandringham estate over the shooting of Two Hen Harriers, very rare bird that will eat game birds for food. I am loosing all respect for these two clowns. I am ashamed that I once and only once went on a shoot. I know the evil it is.

Photos. Pheasants ready to be run over after being released ready to be shot. A beautiful Pheasant and  Nigel Webber and his son Richard of Pitpear Farm

Our Life at Denbury Farm Blog 25th October 2017

 
 
Although the cull has officially finished we are still checking around the farm area just to make sure. After eight weeks non stop it is difficult to believe it has finished. I am also concerned that maybe, although unlikely there are numbers that have to be made up.
 
Yesterday afternoon as we were about to do the afternoon feed when one of our Muscovy ducks, or should I say refugee Muscovy with a single newly hatched duckling in tow, making hell of a noise and squawking coming towards us. Muscovy ducks wouldn’t be the best mothers in the world. It wouldn’t be unusual for them to walk away and leave their ducklings, but being newly hatched and squawking I called Mrs Farmer to help look incase she has abandoned others. She had and by the direction of the noise she had left them twenty five feet in the air in the peak of the barn roof, in a barn owl nest box, the only way to get to them was by a long ladder. Not being a lover of heights it was Mrs Farmers job to rescue the ducklings. 
 
What a stupid place to nest and it wouldn’t be the first time. The ducking’s become kamikaze pilots when they leave their barn owl nest box, jumping off from the nest box platform and dropping rather than floating down one after the other, landing with a thud, surprisingly doing them no harm at all. When they hatched this time the one walking towards us with the duck must have hatched a lot earlier than the rest, the duck thinking the other eggs were not going to. When Mrs Farmer climbed to rescue them they hadn’t made the eighteen inch climb to get to the platform, so it was just as well that she heard them calling, for seven more ducklings in the owl box.
 
Safe in a bucket they were lowered down and reunited with their mum. This morning there was a duckling missing that was found by Mrs Farmer. It was a little weak and finding it a bit hard to walk. She kept it in her hoodie pocket until strong and went to find its mum who by this time had decided to take the day old ducklings on a route march in the horses field, for a hundred meters and still going, up hill at that. They must have been exhausted. there was another missing, so we are not holding our breath to see how many survive.