Happy New year to all our guests - past present and future! The weather through December has been rather wet, however the new year has become more settled with frost and foggy conditions albeit very still conditions with not much wind. This has not prevented the violets in our garden to come into bloom - along with some intrepid snow drops and a few signs of daffs starting to come through (now flowers yet). The shepherds hut has proved as popular as ever over Christmas with lots of guests enjoying a winter break. The hut is so cosy with the log burning stove lit, and meteor showers around during the winter clear nights. Its particularly nice for our guests staying at this time of year as they have the run of the whole camp to themselves, whilst our yurts are stored away in the barn over winter. Each year we aim to put the yurts back on the field before Easter, this year we are aiming to have them set up for the 15th March.
Close by to the yurt camp is the local farm shop at Staverton, "Bens farm Shop" and last week I was fortunate to go to a wreath making workshop help by Penny Hemmings the head gardener at Riverford Farm. The picture above was my first attempt at making my own Christmas wreath to decorate our front door. I had just a little help but I am quite proud of my first ever attempt! There are still some lovely people coming to stay in our shepherds hut this time of year despite the weather not being as perfect as I would have liked! I am now going to make another wreath to decorate the hut for the next guests so they can enjoy the Christmas spirit!
Its always nice to have a few intrepid guests staying with us during the winter months and this week has been no exception with some lovely guests arriving from Brighton for a brief stay in our shepherds hut, despite not being seasoned campers they loved the quirky little hut with its cosy wood burning stove, and the dark and quiet nights here. The local pub, the Tally Ho Inn has recently had new landlords and our guests find it bracing to walk from the camp to the pub in the winter air. The moon has been a spectacular sight recently, although the fog has descended today. The forecast is for temperatures to drop in the next week with the return of the "beast from the East". We have been luckily having warm mild winter days and nights for a week or so now, so its going to be a bit of a shock. Pictured above was our snowfall in March 2018 - lets hope it doesnt snow that hard again!
Over the past few days the colours of autumn have been blooming - with clear blue skies and chilly nights, with stars to be seen . There has been a touch of ground frost, but the days have been unseasonally warm for this time of year. The shepherds hut has been booked with some lovely guests visiting the area for the first time and enjoying the local pubs, the Tally Ho, the Monks Retreat and the Pig and Whistle. Half term week has the hut booked again, this time with guests returning for the second time. The hut can sleep up to 4 persons and has a cute little wood burning stove which keeps the hut lovely and warm on those cool evenings. The leaves are falling everywhere and next to the camp is a huge oak tree which is spilling its bounty of acorns all across our yard. I am clearing these as much as possible as they are poisonous to our horses. The horses are happily enjoying the sunshine but are now wearing their winter rugs. Lovely time to stay with us - quiet and peaceful too.
Its much cooler now in the evenings, the sun is setting at around 7.00pm and there has been a ground frost over the last few mornings. Its also the time when we take our yurts down and store them in our barn until the spring. We are usually open for yurt holidays from March 15th but this is always weather dependent. We need dry weather to put our yurts up and similarly to take them down. We have taken advantage of the lovely indian summer this week and taken down our yurts for this season. We are still taking bookings for our lovely little shepherds hut (sleeps 4) over the winter period. The hut is cosy with a log burning stove, a double bed and 2 bunk beds and is lovely and snug with a view over our lake field. The weather has been good for the past few days and is set fair for about another 5 days, so still time to have a lovely little glamping break out of season. The local pub has a new landlord and we welcome Kelly and Mike Joiner to the Tally Ho Inn - with new menus and lots of live music all within 10 - 15 minutes walking distance from the camp - lovely!
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!!!
Liz Jeffery - owner of Hemsford Yurt camp