We have farmed organically and with wildlife and habitat conservation principles since 1998. Part of the ground is Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve – the largest remaining raised bog in the British Isles.
The main ‘productive’ parts of the farm is the hay fields. This is the mineral rich clay soils which lay beneath three metres of peat until it was dug out in the late 18th century. You can find out more about the Flanders Moss story here.
The grass mix includes the famous Carse of Stirling Timothy grass but there is a good mix of other varieties together with clover which ensures that the insect life is diverse and the soil structure is improved. Each year a crop of hay is taken in July – after the ground nesting birds have fledged. Some hay is sold and the rest is kept to feed the Shetland cattle over the winter.
Shetland cattle are a very rare breed and are perfect for West Moss-side land. They are light weight and small and do well on poor land, so are great for the moss ground where they spend some of the summer months grazing and browsing the unwanted regenerating birch, heather and rough grasses.
The cattle are a suckler herd which means that the calves have the milk and the herd stay together as a family group. The bull is with the cows late summer and calves are born in May/June. It is a small herd (or ‘fold’ as it is known in Shetland) with no more than nine breeding females. The bull calves are castrated and remain on the farm grazing and growing for two to two and a half years when they go to the butcher.
You can buy the beef direct from the farm freezer – just let me know when you are coming.
I also sell through the local Stirling foodhub. You can join (no cost) on the NeighbourFood website. It is a weekly market with a pickup at Stirling High School.
Of course if you come and stay in the yurts then it is a must to try some of the beef, barbeque or cook in the oven of the wood-burning stove and explore the farm too.
“Fabulous few days here celebrating my birthday and more exciting still, our first little weekend adventure with our 2-month old son. Had exquisite Moss-side sirloin steaks for birthday dinner yesterday along with bubbles of the Cairn o’Mhor cider variety – very tasty! Breakfast in the hot sunshine on the decking this morning – pure bliss. Add to that the arrival of a new calf on the farm, and it has been a perfect weekend.”
Cattle are the only stock that I keep, but the farm story would not be complete without introducing you to Faith the rescue collie dog. Faith is not a working dog but likes to think she is useful around the farm and in the garden though her main work is stick and ball retrieval.
The kitchen garden
The organic fruit, vegetable and herb garden is very productive and provides produce for the house and for Andy the chef. We are working on developing it at the moment and we have help from a student from the Green Routes project. It will soon be tamed and back in full production after some years of neglect!