September has arrived and the nights are starting to draw in. The camp is still busy and this weekend we will welcome the influx of swimmers taking part in the annual Dart 10k open water swimming event. The intrepid entrants get into the water at Totnes and swim down river to Dittisham. In the past 7 years we have been running our camp we have welcomed participants to stay with us every year. This year the river levels are still very low due to the heatwave and lack of rain over the summer months. Hopefully this will be of benefit to the entrants of the swim. Back at the camp the swallows are swarming and looking likely to leave soon for their annual migration back to Africa for the winter, and its getting dark around 8pm at the moment with some glorious sunsets for our lucky guests. The picture above is of the river Dart at Sharpham, home to our local vineyard. The award winning wine is excellent, and this year they will have a bumper crop. Its well worth visting to go on the wine and cheese tasting tour or just taking a leisurely stroll along the river dart in this stunning location.
Wow - what a scorcher - this summer has been sweltering and fabulous for all the guests staying at the camp. The ground however is very parched and arid and we will be short of grazing in the winter because of this. The camp has been full again this weekend, with all our guests enjoying the wonderful clear nights and the sweltering temperatures during the day. Fortunately the south Devon coast is just a short drive away and the beaches are cooler than inland with on shore breezes giving a welcome rest from the heat. The wildlife has been very active with plenty of fox and badger activity every night.
There are several fox cubs in our garden every evening, they come to drink from my dogs bowl and to play with the dogs toys. They are mega cute as long as they are not trying to eat my hens!!!!
When our guests come and stay I always mention our colony of feral cats. Not everyone has the pleasure of meeting our fur babies, but even if you dont see them - we know they are there. The pictures above are of the two latest additions to the feral colony. These two are obviously related to the other group that is living here, as they are marked similarly to the others. The only other feral is Kitty who has been here for at least the past 7 years, and she is ginger and fluffy, so probably not related to these youngsters. My husband thinks I am a crazy cat lady for sure,but I only feed them a little and leave them water in this heat. They do a great job in fending for themselves and keeping the rodent population at bay. In the autumn when there are fewer guest about I will attempt to catch these again, with my humane trap so we can get them neutered and released back into the wild again.
Amazing weather for the past few weeks and more to come. Temperatures have been up in the high twenties with lovely hot sunshine and blue skies almost every day!! The early summer has been wonderful after all the snow and rain over the winter. Its very hard to recall how deep the snow had been when looking at todays scene at the yurt camp. There is still time to book your glamping break over the school holidays and we have plenty of availability towards the end of August so if you would like to see our clear dark skies and experience sleeping in an authentic yurt or shepherds hut then give me a call.
The past few weeks have been exceptionally dry here in Devon, with warm sunshine and hardly any rain. The ground is looking very parched and the badgers are noisy at night. Badgers dig to find their main source of food, which are worms, bugs and grubs so when the land is so hard its more difficult to find their normal food. Last week the badger broke into one of our hen houses at night, breaking through the wooden structure and killing a mother hen and her two chicks. The badgers are incredibly strong and are able to dig and destroy the hen house by ripping the wood apart. I have had problems with them before and its always this time of year after prolonged dry weather. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do as badgers are protected. Always heartbreaking to see the decimation after one of these attacks. We are now trying to beef up the security even more for the rest of our young poultry. The dry weather is fabulous for our guests, but I am wondering whether we will be having a hosepipe ban later in the summer!!!
Whilst the rest of the country has had some thunder storms and flash flooding we have been sweltering with temperatures around 25 degrees with hot and sticky humid days. This doesnt stop the wildlife patrolling our land and garden at night. The picture above shows the baby badger by my back door late at night - they are quite noisy and social creatures and this baby was with his mum. Its a busy half term week with lots of guests staying and enjoying the sunshine and beautiful sunsets. The smell of a wood fire is wonderful and our guests are busily toasting marshmallows as the sun is setting. Sunset is around 9.30pm at the moment but its not properly dark until around 10pm. Lots of bats around at the moment too, and our fields are full of buttercups!
The first May bank holiday weekend is almost here and the weather forecasters are predicting beautiful sunshine and lovely warm temperatures. After our long wet, snowy and cool winter we are really looking forward to the spring sunshine. Its lovely to have a camp fire and barbecue in the spring - I love the smell of the camp fire, and roasting marshmallows is fantastic. The birds are busily nest building and raising their young, and recently we have had a family of robins nesting in our stables adjacent to the yurt camp. The swallows have arrived back from Africa too and are starting the nest in the stables. Their aerial activities are amazing and they dart in between the stables and yurts catching flys and displaying their awesome flying skills. More guests are arriving this week, but still some availability for this sunny bank holiday weekend!!
Its been a very long and wet, snowy and cold winter, and just yesterday the sun shone and their was a hint of warmth in the spring sunshine. Lovely primroses are in bloom all around the yurt camp in our hedges. Some lovely guests stayed over the weekend as well although its been a quiet week for the camp. We had to turn away a family on Friday night who arrived with their pet dog. Whilst we are animal lovers ourselves (and own our own dog) we are unable to accept pets of any kind at the yurt camp. There are too many livestock in the fields adjacent to the camp, along with our large feral cat colony, our own poulrty and numerous wild fowl on our lake, along with no facilities for a dog to sleep in a yurt or hut and we know that many of our guests would not be happy to stay in a bed that a dog may have slept on, so our rules are strict, so please do not turn up with your dog in the hope we might just allow it, as I am sory to say we will not accept pets no matter how well behaved they are. We are happy to recommend other local places to stay that may accept a pet, such as the Sea Trout Inn at Staverton. Unfortunately most camp sites have the same rules about pets so please make sure before you book with us that you dont expect your pet to come too.
The beast from the east returned this week (18th March 2018) with a vengence and dumped around a foot of snow on Totnes and the surrouding areas. We were very much caught by surprise at the rate at which the snow fell on Sunday - it covered the ground and within about 3 hours the world was obliterated by the white stuff. This snow was much larger flakes that the previous blizzard from 2 weeks ago, and although it was cold, the ground remainded soft under foot. We struggled to get around for Sunday and Monday, but on Tuesday the thaw began and we managed to put the Dart and Tamar yurt up ready for our first guests at easter. The rumour is that we may even get another covering of snow then too - I have decided that I dislike snow a great deal. Its so disrputive for the animals, and people alike and although its pretty its treacherous for anyone attempting to drive in the lanes. Last weekend saw some intrepid guests in our shepherds hut, they left on Sunday morning just before the blizzard struck, I hope they made it home safely!!!
So the 1st of March 2018 has brought the Beast from the East - a weather system bringing Siberian temperatures and arctic winds. This has also bounced off a weather system from the south, Storm Emma, colliding over the South West and bringing unprecedented snow to Devon and the rest of the South west peninsula. The snow started falling on Tuesday evening, fell throughout Wednesday in patchy amounts and finally on Thursday dumped a foot of snow over Totnes. This morning, Friday has seen us cut off but still with our sense of humour coupled with wellies and thermals!! All our lanes have been virtually impassable and the yurt camp cut off from civilisation. Sadly I had to cancel our guests this week - something that has never happened in all the years we have run our camp. But without any water supply (it has been frozen for days) and heavy snow, it doesnt not seem the perfect time to take a glamping holiday!!!
Liz Jeffery - owner of Hemsford Yurt camp