We moved to Allen’s Farm, Mayfield in 2011 for a change of scenery and farming lifestyle. Previously we had a vegetable farm with a farm shop and a few sheep. We now have a lot of sheep, some sussex cows and a tiny vegetable patch.
Allen’s Farm is a Sussex Wealden grassland farm bordered by hedged fields. The surrounding trees are mainly oak and ash but also beech and chestnut trees and therefore full of wildlife. We are within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The farmhouse dates from the late 16th Century and was originally part of the Isenhurst Estate.
The Oast house (or hop kiln) was built to dry hops, an ingredient used in brewing beer. The hops would have been spread out on a thin floor dried by either a wood or charcoal kiln below. The heat would pass through the hops and escape via the cowl (a rotating roof). Oast houses are generally found in South East England and West Midlands. The Oast House was converted in 2006 having lain redundant since the mid 50’s as agriculture became more mechanised and hop production fell.
Our farming year starts at end of September when we put the rams to the ewes for 6 weeks and reseed grass fields. We then do mainly forestry work, maintenance of fences and buildings.
Once the weather changes we bring the cows and their calves in from the fields for the winter with the calves being weaned at the same time.
The sheep stay out grazing until the end of February when we house the ewes because from March to early April we are busy lambing and calving. This is a great time to visit.
The next few months important job is making sure we produce and keep healthy lambs which we will start taking to market in July.
By the end of May, and before the weather gets too hot, the sheep are shorn to prevent them getting fly struck. We will treat the lambs later only if the weather is wet and then warm. The cows will go out to grass in May with their new calves, and last year’s calves (yearlings) go out separately for the summer. We then introduce a bull to the cows and he stays with them for the next 10 weeks.
June is silage time which we will feed to the cows during the winter months. We then begin the hay making (weather permitting) which we produce for the sheep and outside sales.
And so our year starts again…………