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Becky Sherman, The Squire Farm, Chapel Lawn, Bucknell, Shropshire. SY7 0BW

Tel/Fax - 01547 530530 E-mail - becky@squirefarm.co.uk

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Redlake Valley


The Squire Farm, Chapel Lawn, Bucknell, Shropshire SY7 0BW

Tel/Fax - 01547 530530 E-mail - becky@squirefarm.co.uk



This month we have had two stretches of hedge laid.  2008 Hedge plantingThe hedge was planted by Becky back in February 2008 and fenced both sides.

Pleaching in action

Nine years later and the hedge has grown sufficiently to be ‘laid’ or ‘pleached’.  This involves the trunk of the young sapling being sliced low to the ground and enabling the whole plant to be bent over at an angle and wound between stakes like a woven basket.Newly pleached hedge  This provides a living, stock-proof barrier.  Funnily enough though, due to being able to get grants and subsidies from the government to carry out this work, we have to fence the stock proof hedge in!  

 New shoots will grow up from the base of the newly laid hedge, thus creating an even thicker and denser barrier.  Fencing either side with stock netting does allow the shoots to grow and not be eaten by the sheep and horses or cattle (if we had any).

In a few year’s time, the hedge will be thick and strong and my neighbour will come and trim it every two years or so.

Pleached hedgeCyd looking on

Inspecting the pleaching


The hens are out.  Hens let out on their first morningA few days wandering around in the sunshine and they have already migrated back to their comfy barn and whatever pickings there are around from sheep and horse food.  I have told them that if they dThey have escaped from their run at laston’t go outside in the fresh air, they won’t get their supper!


And - it is so lovely to have sunshine again, even if it is unseasonably warm currently.  

Sunshine on the hillsOur neighbouring farmers are starting with their lambing; the field next to ours has ewes that are having only one lamb each and are therefore staying outside.  They remind me of pop-corn; you put a bunch of corn kernals in a pan add heat and one by one they pop into fluffy white clouds - OK, well not quite - but gradually the field fills with little white bundles alongside the dirty big white ewes…  

We don’t start lambing until the end of April, the theory being that the weather will definitely be clement by then, but also there will be more grass for the young lambs and as we keep sheep for mutton, we don’t need to fatten lambs before next winter, so early lambing is not so important.

We had a visitor during April - namely, a young Red Kite.  I thought at first it was a young Buzzard, but comparing photos and looking closely at it’s tail, it is definitely a kite.  It hung around for a day or two, spending a lot of time on the ground and it looked to me that one of it’s wings was slightly damaged.  Not enough to stop it flying, but maybe enough to keep it close to the ground.  You can just imagine a teenage Kite trying out some aerobatic acrobatics and getting it wrong!  Or giving the local crows some lip and getting a beating!

April and May

Young red kite

We had late lambs this year.  Starting on 21st April and finishing on 6th May.  All went well until the very last sheep to lamb, which lost a lovely big male lamb and finished with a weedy little female!  Mum is very protective - so much so that the lamb cannot get to her udder because Mum has to keep the lamb in sight all the time! I have called the lamb Molly and am supplementing her feed with a milk bottle.  

Update 1st June:

Molly has not needed a bottle now for over a week - she came up to me one feeding time and said, very politely, that she didn’t feel hungry any more!  Aahh!

This is a very good thing because I sprained my ankle last Friday and struggle to get around at the moment.

Molly having her bottle of milk
Sheep in hiding roaming sheep


The Wild Sheep of Chapel Lawn.  Early June; it is like trying to stalk wildebeast or photograph zebra on the plains of Africa - and almost as exciting!  Is that 17 or 18 I ask?  But there are only supposed to be 14 in here!  Oh…. Well there do seem to be some missing from the Dingle; I wonder if they are now in here?  With  the rams… the young ewes as yet unsullied… Oh… well… it’s a bit early in the season for that …. Isn’t it?

Sheep below The Camp Skollie supervising the topping

26th and 27th June, the thistles are cut and the cover for the wild life, aka ‘sheep’, is blown!  Our neighbour (retired) came and topped all the fields ahead of most of our other neighbours.  However, this is because they are all busy making hay while the sun shines and we aren’t.  We have no plans to make hay this year - our fields don’t lend themselves to hay-making and it is a dodgy business even when you have all the right equipment; no good at all if you have to rely on contractors to come when they can.

No dig veg gardening

I have discovered No-dig Gardening!  OK, so my garden may not look very tidy (by Charles Dowding’s standards) (yet), but at least I have planted lots of veg - we have loads of mange-tous and potentially lots of broad beans, courgettes (who hasn’t) and greens of various sorts.  

Of course we also have lots of weeds still though I am only showing a tiny picture of those!

Veg garden

The relief!  The sheep have been shorn and before the hot weather really kicked in thank goodness!  Of course they didn’t like it much and many kicked up quite a fuss and made life difficult for the poor shearers, Simon and George.  

What made it even more difficult for the boys was the fact that their boards had to be on a slope due to us shearing outside in the field!  There are not that many suitable flat areas of field near enough to an electricity source and although It was only a minor slope, it was enough for the sheep to keep sliding downhill and away from their shearing spots!

There’s always one!  The last sheep to be shorn got away from Simon in the wrong direction - back into the catching pens.  When we tried to coax him out, he panicked and jumped the hurdle right out of the field!  Twenty four hours later we finally managed to persuade him back in the field using the devious means of ‘shooing’ him in the right direction by throwing stones over the hedge!!  (That one in the picture below with the sheep hiding underneath)

Gathered and penned ready.  That was the easy part…

The indignity and some of them really show their displeasure.

Ready for off; the first bunch are preparing to do battle!

Cooler though.

Bob kindly rolling fleeces to save my ankle!

And.. Who?  Oh yes, Porter and Nev without their coats!

Big Nev


Last few ewes waiting their turn


My son has come to stay and I have made use of him to cut down this grey willow in our garden.  It has been infected with aphids and drips grey sooty fungus on everything underneath it, blocks the sun from the vegetables, is undermining the wall behind and using too much water. Time for it to be removed!

First off are the lower branches, then the bigger accessible branches.

The final cuts to the main trunk and it was evident that the tree was not going to go the way it was planned!  Hearts in mouths we watched the tree topple over the wall.  By good fortune the wall did not fall and only one tomato plant was slightly damaged!  We now have some evening sun on our conservatory.


Peter replacing one of the lights Riding at dusk


The seasons move on and having had a very busy September, we are now thinking of Winter.  The Autumn colours are just glorious and the weather has not been too bad for October.  Walking at Black Hill is a delight as can be seen from these pictures.

One of our giant oaks in autumn clothes Toadstools in the woods A misty view

The clocks have now gone back to Greenwich time and we keep running out of light at the end of the day.  

This is a big problem if we want to ride - starting too late means we risk being out on the roads at dusk, although it wasn’t quite as dark out as the picture seems to show.

More importantly, from our visitor’s point of view, Peter has been replacing the slightly dodgy or defunct outdoor lights to the cottages.  Visitors will now be able to see the way to the door and unload their cars after dark without having to balance a torch alongside their cases!  

The Redlake Valley Dec. 2017

We’ve had snow!  At first it was a sprinkling and great for pictures.  The sheep and horses could get to the grass and only needed supplementary feeding.  

Sheep getting fodder beet in the field Peter and Skollie doing the feeding together

Then, yesterday, being Sunday, we woke to deep snow and it went on snowing all day.  We had to bring all the sheep in because they had finished their bale of haylage and more was not forthcoming in the near future and the fodder beet they get was being buried in a foot of snow!

View from our conservatory From the front door From the back door


These cute little poppets were lined up on the gutter for a few days last week.  There were five of them, but I only managed the one picture with four.  Every time one of the adults flew past, they would simultaneously open their beaks wide, hoping for an insect or whatever else they eat.  Mum (or Dad) would feed each in turn, barely stopping long enough to pop the delicacy in the youngster’s mouth.  They had, it seems already had their first flying lessons as they all took flight as soon as I clicked the shutter on the camera


Our Garden Plans  Thanks to this last bout of dry weather (we haven’t had the thunderstorms others have), the pond in Xidong garden has given up even pretending to be a pond and is now a sunken ‘area’ in the middle of the garden.  Now would be the time to do something about it, but unfortunately, poor Peter is not well and it will have to wait it’s turn along with other projects.  At least the hot tub is working still!



Our poor hens have had to be kept inside from November due to the Avian Flu which has been hitting some of our birds.  I say ‘poor’ hens, because they don’t know that the government can stop them going outside and they cannot see any reason why they have to be stuck in a stable in the barn when the sun is shining and the grass is growing!  Mind you, they don’t appreciate either, that they are also protected from the wind, rain and snow.  The young pullets have started laying, but so far I have only had one blue egg out of two Cream Legbar hens (which lay blue eggs).  This is either because only one is laying or they need sunlight or grass to produce blue eggs.  Anyhow, today we are legally allowed to let our hens out (with restrictions of course) and if they are lucky, I will move them into their summer accommodation tonight, after dark.  This is not because it is a furtive operation, but so that I can catch them while they are roosting!

Peter is laying more stone on the track and putting in surprise sleeping coppers to keep visitors on their toes!  It might be worth warning us if you are a potential visitor with a low-slung sports car - we will do what we can to see you safely to the cottages.

He is also finally fitting the decking behind Xidong - the weather has not been conducive to outdoor work in the last week.

There is also exciting work going on in our joinery workshop and barn; last week saw the first of our new Shepherd Huts being assembled; we will be adding one of these to our accommodation here at Squire Farm - at least for starters, with another two in the future.  They will also be for sale to order.  More information will be available on our sister website www.squirefarmshepherdhuts.co.uk although this is not yet fully operational.