Westcott Farm has existed for more than 1000 years. "Espreiwa" is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Such ancient places are never truly owned, merely looked after, curated by each generation, more or less successfully. We hope to be numbered among the good.
This is a grassland farm. We grow good grass in this part of Devon. A mild(ish) climate and good rainfall makes sure of that. A mix of old fashioned meadow grasses and newer more productive types keeps the sheep happy and we encourage wild flowers and herbs at every opportunity. The sheep are not mob grazed in tight bunches behind electric fences but are allowed to range over as big an area as possible to allow them to express their natural behaviour.
We are very lucky to have over 60 acres of Ancient Woodland on the farm. This clothes our steep valley sides and is largely undisturbed by us. Ancient oaks with holly understorey are found in some parts while others are more open with hazel coppice stools. Bluebells carpet the woods in Spring.
Our wildlife was here long before we were. The swallows return to breed every summer roosting in 17th century barns they have probably used since they were first constructed. The badger setts are also ancient. Their paths have been used by generations and take no account of modern fences. We have rare moths and butterflies, delicate fungi and lichens as well as the more spectacular Red and Roe Deer. Otters and young salmon swim in our Iron Mill Stream.
Life is not always sunny on the farm. We get around 1000mm of rain a year and at 230m up it gets very cold and often snowy in winter. The sheep are inside for the worst of the winter snow but go out on dry days to enjoy the fresh air. They return to feed and sleep in a warm barn each night!