Spring March - May

Spring brings frenetic activity and new life everywhere.

The beef cattle will start calving, the ewes will be lambing and our tree-roosting chickens will be finding nooks in the barns to lay their eggs and go broody.

The piglets born in late winter will be growing fast, playing tag around the trees in the orchard, chasing the chickens and generally being very entertaining! Those lucky people who have booked weaners will soon have their little pigs running around their ankles in their new homes.

More beef boxes will be ready for those who ordered our delicious slow matured grass-fed beef. 

The forest garden will be coming back to life and this is when I need to spend time doing a bit of maintenance…. let’s hope I get the time this year as it’s currently a bit of a jungle!

We’ll be sowing seeds by the moon calendar, checking tree-ties and rabbit guards on our winter planting and generally rushing around chasing our tails but still finding time to welcome visitors and show people around.

Spring at smiling tree farm

Summer June - August

In theory the summers on a pastoral farm like ours should be blissfully relaxing!

With mob-grazing in full swing, lambs skipping and bouncing and only the odd cow left to calve, our main pressure ought to be waiting for the right window of favourable weather to make our precious hay crop. However, there always seems to be a long list of jobs to keep us occupied. 

In particular we need to focus on the development of the forest garden, which has been sorely neglected since being planted in January 2013. It's growth has been so tremendous that it has turned into a jungle with soft fruit and top fruit hidden amongst a thicket of trees and undergrowth. 

We hope to be ready to welcome some more volunteers this summer too as many hands definitely make for lighter work and so much more fun.

Summer at smiling tree farm

Autumn September - November

Autumn brings bountiful harvests, reflection and planning for the winter and year ahead.

The lambs will be weaned, and weighed, and a tentative schedule drawn up for which to keep for breeding and when the rest might go to slaughter. We will take stock of how the holistic planned grazing has gone and see what lessons there are to learn. We will review what we've achieved during the year and schedule what needs to be done before the winter sets in.

Early autumn is often peaceful on the farm. It's a lovely time to visit, meet the animals, chat about raising meat and producing milk sustainably and enjoy the forest garden which will be at its optimum abundance.

Bread making

Winter December - February

Farm life takes on a slower pace during the short winter days.

Mornings are spent tending the animals, keeping them fed and watered: the beef cattle and sheep are checked and hay topped up; the less hardy dairy cows and calves come into their barn at night and after milking go out to graze fresh grass each day. Afternoons are often spent planting trees and shrubs as we continue to develop the farm ecology. The long winter evenings are spent relaxing around the fire’s hearth, eating hearty home-raised food and hibernating with a book or two!

Toot & Puddle, our two sows, will farrow towards the end of winter. Their litters keeping snug and warm in their deep straw beds. The rams will come out from their sojourn with the ewes at the end of February to be put back together in their ‘boys club’. And the last of our slow-grown lambs will be booked into the abattoir to go into our akin to wild, paleo lamb boxes.