In 1985 Sue purchased this former Cow Shed from her Mother which lay in the land of the family Farm in Cookhill Warwickshire. Turning this and it’s outbuildings into a home and more recently a thriving business would not be the easiest of journeys but definitely one worth while.
Now some 29 years on, the Farm provides a backdrop for the Luxury Farm Stay Accommodation for others seeking a slice of how Rural England should be.
Self Sufficient? Not quite but we have taken some big steps
Rearing our own Lamb on the farm now provides enough meat for the family and a surplus the meat tastes exceptional when you are in control of how it is cared for from the point of birth, through its whole life cycle to the table, people often say to us how could you eat something that you have looked after, the answer is simple: what’s the alternative? We know exactly what has gone into every lamb on the farm it’s whole life cycle has been down to us.
Rearing sheep on this scale will not reap profit, but it does afford a lifestyle choice which is second to none, attention to detail is key, managing the process from when to put the tup to the ewes, preparing the Barn for Lambing, knowing when to bring the sheep in and recognising the first signs of a ewe giving birth is really just the beginning.
Yes we make mistakes thankfully these are fewer now but this is thanks to some good friends and family networks. Sheep have been around for a long time and have a simple aim in life which appears to be get stuck and die, they have a natural ability to present problems at every corner, but other farmers are a wealth of knowledge in prevention cure and perseverance.
The latest addition to the farm is our purpose built pig pen, pigs are full of personality, intelligent and bring a whole new bit of fun back to the farm, the pen has been rebuilt in the Victorian style which allows us to easily manage the pigs welfare.
We have chickens on the farm which supply us and our guests with enough eggs most of the year round.
<strongOur Green Values Pay Off
From the beginning we wanted to attract guests to the farm who would appreciate the Rural Landscape in which we live and work. To achieve this we felt it important that every part of the business needed to minimise or enhance the impact on the environment. We manage guest waste effectively, vegetable waste goes to the chickens or pigs, meat waste is dealt with mainly by Jimmy our Jack Russell though part of me is suspicious that guests cook extra just for jimmy. Glass, card, paper are recycled and general waste is minimised.
We re or up cycle wherever possible, part of the beauty of restoring an old farm house is re using old building materials.
One of our biggest investments on the farm was the installation of solar panels, we now generate one third of our energy consumption and it feels good cooking a Sunday roast knowing that the electric meter is standing still.
All of our linen is managed in house which minimises our carbon footprint, especially as this to is washed on solar power.
Our kitchen Garden and flourishing orchard provide us with summer crops and winter stores plenty enough for the farm and some to share.
Communication is Key
Simply believing in your product is not enough! Having started our business amidst the growth in Social Networking, we happened to meet a number of really good people one of these Was Grant Appleton of Hospitalitweets, facilitated by Jason Adams of the Arden Hotel, this series of three workshops led us to meet with other like minded beginners to the world of Social media as we were introduced to the doors of Twitter, Facebook, linked in YouTube and much much more. Thirsty for more further workshops on FaceBook delivered by Michael Thomas and Tom Mallens on Linked in, enabled our business to reach out to even more.
Building our own website was important to Oaks Barn Farm as we wanted to be in charge of our own content, and updates, this we simplified earlier in the year by the integration of Pinterest, allowing us to Gallery the Farm on Boards within our website which could feature not only the farm but local attractions and partner services.
We carefully selected a couple of paid for sites and got ourselves listed with many of the free hosting sites, all generated traffic to our site but careful record keeping of these allows us to keep our content current.
My former Employer and Principal for Stoke on Trent College Graham Moore once said to me “never be afraid to share with others what you are doing today, because what you are doing today will not be what you are doing tomorrow” Sadly Graham is no longer with us, however his words still live with me today.
When something is shared it opens up the opportunity for others to do the same, whether this is in the form of knowledge, a skill or an experience, all present new opportunity and choices.
Putting Something Back
Realising that we are only the custodians of this land for a relatively short period in time, we recognise that making the most of what time we have in putting something back, is equally important.
Over the past few years the Farm Has signed up to Land Share through our Come Grow With us Volunteer Scheme, planted trees on the farm with thanks to the Woodland Trust, Established an orchard which has proved a haven for wildlife, provided a Training Ground for the Inkberrow Young Farmers Tug of War Team and signed up to Environment Bank, a bio diversity offsetting programme. In turn we have gained recognition by winning Our Green Apple Environment Award for Farming Diversity through Tourism and more recently Our Corporate Social Responsibility Award of Excellence.
As the Farm continues to grow so do the opportunities that present themselves.
Find out More about our Farm Stay Experience:
Thanks for Reading.