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!!!
This week has been half term and we have been busy with several guests staying in the yurt camp in the shepherds hut. Its certainly been a mixed week of weather, with gale force winds felling this rather large Beech tree overnight 13th February. The tree blocked the lane for a few hours, and the torrential rain did not help the BT engineer restore our landline phone. Fortunately no one was hurt when it came down as it was around 4am. The noise was like an earthquake as it was a substantial trunk. By the time our latest guests arrived the sun was shining and the only evidence of the tree was a few piles of sawdust in the lane. The camp has also welcomed new arrivals in the form of 2 canadian geese on our lake. There is also a solitary cormorant who has taken a liking to the lake too. Roll on the spring as this week we have had rain, gales, and even a tiny smattering of snow!!!
Our garden is home to many wild birds, including the Robin shown in this video. Robins are seemingly very tame, but can be bullying to other birds and are very territorial. This little beauty waits for me every morning to fill up the bird feeders, and I am rewarded to hear his beautiful song - Spring is definitely in the air.
Happy New Year to all my guests - This morning saw the remnants of Storm Eleanor hitting the South West of the UK, with plenty of rain and high winds giving the whole area quite a battering. Our field was subjected to some minor flooding for a couple of hours around high tide times. The Hems broke its banks and flooded over into the lake field next to the yurt camp. This has been quite a regular occurrence in the past and usually happens during winter months when there are spring tides. New Years Day saw a full moon, called a "wolf" moon at this time of year. In fact in January this year there will be two full moons in one month which is a rare event. The new year has seen plenty of enquiries about our glamping holidays and popular dates are getting booked up already. Our yurts will be put back up on the in time for Easter which will fall around the 1st April this year. In the meantime we are still able to offer glamping breaks in our lovely little Shepherds hut during the winter months.
Whilst the rest of the UK is enveloped in a big freeze, its been cold but not a single flake has been seen at the yurt camp!!! Its been a bit frosty and windy at times with some rain, but overall its been quite a dry winter so far! Some intrepid guests will be staying this weekend in our shepherds hut which is looking lovely in the winter sunshine. Its very cosy inside with a log burning stove for heating and solar power for lighting. Wishing all our guests a very merry Christmas!!! :)
Liz Jeffery - owner of Hemsford Yurt camp