So I realised that its been a while since I updated my blog on this website, and so much seems to have happened in a very short time space. We started with a very very wet February with rain virtually every day with storms and some minor flooding in our lake field. Followed by March and the pandemic arriving, a virus called Covid-19 from afar bringing sickness, death and misery to many and eventually on the 23rd March the government ordering a complete lockdown - everyone to stop socialising and to stay away from all our friends and family. This was rather shocking and of course disappointing as we had spent the best part of a fortnight preparing our fields, rolling, harrowing and putting up our yurts ready for what was going to be a very busy Easter period. However move on one month, and all our guests have been postponed by us until the lockdown is over, and we are all waiting patiently following the social distancing rules and shielding the vulnerable in our household. Our guests have been lovely and very understanding, and have accepted that we are offering alternative dates in the future once lockdown is over. In the meantime the camp is looking lovely in the spring sunshine, with lovely warm days, cooler evenings, lots of star watching and great weather. We have also spent time tending our allotment, growing veg, fruit and flowers, and also hatched 14 adorable little chicks in our incubator. Their father Solo is very fertile and their mothers were a combination of ex commerical layers and a few old girls from previous successful broods. The chicks are doing really well and amazingly it only takes around 16 - 20 weeks for them to become fully grown adult birds. We are still accepting bookings for late summer, and of course in 2021.
Happy New Year to all our guests - old and new. I realised that I have not updated my blog since November, which is due to being very busy. The winter months are quieter as our yurts are taken down and stored in the barn and then put back on their bases for the Easter holidays. However our lovely little shepherds hut has been very popular through the Christmas and New Year period and guests enjoy sole use of the facilities during this period. The weather once again has been very mild with plenty of rain and wind and our fields are looking a little muddy. Horses are notorius for poaching the fields and our 4 old horses are wintering well as the warm temperatures are welcomed by our geriatrics. Our lake has been overflowing and the resident swan is still on the lake. The ducks have been getting frisky with each other and there are small signs of spring in the flora and fauna. Lots of people have been making bookings this past week and we look forward to welcoming them in the coming months. Last year was a bumper year with around 1000 people staying with us in 2019. Lets hope 2020 will continue to be as popular! Last night we had the first full moon of the year - coupled with a partial lunar eclipse and a clear night a spectacular sight to see. Living in a rural location is wonderful for star gazing!
This autumn has been one of the wettest in a number of years, with lots of rain and relatively mild temperatures. Happily our yurts are all stored away safely in our barn until Easter next year, but we still have our shepherds hut which is available all year round. Last weekend was no exception with guests staying despite the monsoon weather and enjoying the peace and tranquility with the cosy log burning stove and long autumn nights. The stove in the hut is very efficient and will keep our guests warm through the night and days. Guests are making the most of the local amenities with Bens farm shop just a couple of miles away and Totnes hosting its weekly markets. The grounds nearby of Dartington Hall with the Cider press shopping centre and deer park are always popular for winter walks, and Christmas shopping ideas. The neighbouring field which is a plantation for the local Christmas tree farm has seen much activity with the trees being harvested in time for the December rush. There has been a small amount of flooding into our lake field over the past couple of weeks with the river Hems breaking its banks at high tide. The resident swan seems very settled on our lake at the moment and has the company of several mallards, moor hens, and sea gulls. The owls have been noisy as well recently - its always good to hear them at night.
The past couple of weeks have been wet and murky - with fog and rain virtually every day. This has not put off some lovely intrepid guests who have enjoyed staying in our shepherds hut - it has an efficient little log burning stove, and makes the hut extremely warm and toasty during the winter months. The nice thing about the winter months is that guests staying in the hut enjoy exclusive use of the camp site. The blackberries are still in the hedgerows along with hips, haws and sloes. The apples have pretty much dropped from the trees in the orchard due to the windy days, and its not been as productive as previous years. We are looking forward to more guests arriving over the next week to stay during the half term. We have taken down all of our yurts apart from one, and we are still hoping for a few dry days to give us the opportunity to get this stored in the barn over the winter months. We have seen a sparrowhawk frequenting our garden and there is a multitude of fungi in the fields (mostly unedible!)
29th September 2019 has seen the first storm of the autumn arrive with overnight torrential rain and gale force winds here. This has not deterred my intrepid guests with 2 of our yurts and the shepherds occupied this weekend. This weekend has also seen a revival of an ancient tradition of "beating the bounds" - walking the boundaries of Littlehempston parish. Around 40 intrepid walkers arrived this morning and were shown firstly around the camp and then to follow the line of the boundary through our land and onwards to the neighbouring property and Christmas Tree Field. Later on we are attending a presentation in Littlehempston Church to formally mark the occasion with the date being added to the parish records.
September brings cooler evenings and early mornings with early morning dew resting on the grass and getting dark much earlier. The sunshine still feels very warm in the middle of the day, however you know that winter is coming soon as our swallows have left the stables where they have raised 3 broods this year. The swallows gather on the telephone wires that cross our fields and over the past couple of days their absence has been noticed. Its amazing how they complete the trip to Africa and back each year. This year we had around 6 nests in our stables, with them arriving earlier than usual due to the easterly winds in April. Our guests are always treated to displays of their aerial acrobatics and they are quite noisy whilst roosting in the stables and feeding their young. Later this month we are taking part in a "beating of the bounds" ceremony where statesmen of the parish will walk the parish boundaries, which cross our fields. The records will go on file in the church and there is going to be a presentation in Littlehempston church with tea and cakes. I love to know that the ancient village traditions are being upheld.
What an amazingly busy July and beginning of the school summer holidays, lovely warm sunshine and so many wonderful guests. We have truly had a multicutural bunch with travellers arriving from France, Russia, Abu Dhabi, Scotland, and many other areas of the UK - this year will be our busiest ever, with around 1100 guests having stayed here over the spring and summer. The weather has been kind at times with lovely sunshine, and other times we have had amazing storms, high winds and torrential rain. Our yurts are built to withstand all weathers and whilst we always hope its sunny, sometimes its raining and there is nothing we can do about that! I am always very happy to introduce guests to our livestock and recent guests relish the prospect of collecting fresh eggs and feeding our horses. We have some availability left for the end of August but September is looking very busy already!
June has started with some mixed weather, some heavy rain interspersed with some warm sunshine- but some lovely huge ominous skies making for great pictures! Fortunately our guests can always keep cosy with outside firepits, comfy beds, and yurts and the hut with wood burning stoves (apart from the Plym yurt) and a new pavilion to shelter under if the good old british weather lets us down! Its been full at the camp this week with all our accommodation fully booked and the camp buzzing with lovely people enjoying their holidays. The meadow is full of buttercups and wild flowers, and our swallows have fledged their first brood of the year. Nature is wonderful!
Half term week has just been and gone in a flash with a full compliment of lovely guests over the week enjoying the wonderful sunshine and clear nights. The multitude of children that have stayed this week have enjoyed the freedom to roam the 3 acre meadow which is currently full of buttercups and wild flowers. My dog, Gracie has enjoyed the extra attention with the children playing with her throwing her ball and frisbee. When the sky has been clear its given an excellent view of the international space station as it passes over on a nightly basis. I recently joined a facebook page called Meteor watch and this gives all the details of the time you can view the station as it passes over the earth at a huge speed - on a clear night its visible. Also as its spring there are a multitude of birds and wildlife to be seen for those who are quiet and peaceful. The picture above is of one of the foxes that visit our garden on a daily/nightly basis. Its quite unusual for foxes to be seen during daylight hours and this tells me that they probably have cubs and are therefore searching for food more regularly and taking more risks in order to feed their family. I am of the opinion that as long as they are not taking my poultry or attempting to then I am happy to see them. The pair of foxes that visit at night like to hoover up any remaining bird seed or nuts that I put out during the day for the wild birds that visit my garden. These pictures are taking with an Apeman trail camera.
May bank holiday is a lovely time of year, the spring flowers are in bloom, bluebells fill the local woods,wild garlic is rife in our fields and hedges and the orchard is full of apple blossom. This week has been cool but dry with plenty of sunshine and opportunities to see the Eta Aquarids meteor showers at the camp. We have recently relocated the position of the Plym yurt and planted around 100 trees, all native species to surround it and provide some screening and privacy. The spot where the Plym yurt used to be is going to be the location of our new "field kitchen" and this will provide a canopied area for our guests to use when the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, too windy, too busy or any other reason. I cant wait for it to be finally finished - and will post the great unveiling soon! This week has had a couple of nights with no guests in the camp so I took the opportunity to place the pro stalk camera at the camp just to see what nightime wildlife was about. As you can see from the above picture there are plenty of rabbits at the camp, including this one, which is black! Probably an escapee from a domestic pet rabbit.
Liz Jeffery - owner of Hemsford Yurt camp