We arrived at Well Manor in September 2005 it had been extensively farmed as arable unit having originally been a dairy farm in the 1970s. Neil and I set about bringing back livestock to the farm and to developing the natural habitats for wildlife farmland wildflowers.
3 years ago we were awarded the HLS (Higher Level Scheme ) grant in response to, and an aid for us, in our conservation work. During the time the farm was farmed as only an arable unit all the fences and a lot of the field infrastructure was lost. Our work is on going in replacing and restoring hedge rows and in field trees. All our field are designed with an unfarmed margin around them so that insects and butterflies can use them as motorways around the land.
Daisy Field is a large plot of land which we have put into Arable Reversion (taken out of arable use). The Mountain field has been in set aside for some years and is now starting to revert back to a rare pocket of chalk downland. The Gotland and Shetland sheep are used in conservation to closely graze the fields.The main benifit is keeping on top of any scrubby growth and to further reduce the fertility of the soil in order to improve the desirability for chalkland species.
Here at Well we are lucky to own 70 acres of ancient woodland, a lot of which is covered in the spring by a sea of Bluebells. The woodland is home to Tawny and Small owls, numerous woodpeckers, buzzards and deer.We are lucky to having a good diversity of woodland from hazel coppice, ideal for dormice, chestnut coppice and high forest.
The Dartmoor pony is today on the At Risk register as their traditional wild pastures decline. Mischief is 19 years old and a real star having won Horse of the Year show when a sprightly 15 years old. Mischief works along side the sheep to give mixed grazing to our conservation pastures. Horses graze differently to sheep and therefore are happier to take the longer grasses which the sheep find unpalatable.