Horses are such a part of our lives that we couldn’t be without them. Our current lads both arrived via Hollys Horse Rescue, who do amazing work dealing with unwanted, abandoned and otherwise destitute horses. Mel here was a racehorse, having run 24 times, until he fractured a knee and needed to be retired. Presumably the owner didn’t want to be responsible for a horse that couldn’t run, and so he wound up at Hollys. Now back in riding work, he is a complete gentleman, and we potter around the lanes here. There is no better way to travel.
Rain hasn’t had such a privileged upbringing. By the age of three he’s spent much of his time shut in a shed, the muck caked on him so thickly that it had to be cut off in places. He was thin, wormy, and had terrible lice. After a year of being looked after, he’s twice the horse (literally) and a picture of health. An amazingly clever little horse, he can easily undo most door catches and clips, and once we begin to work him, I expect he’ll be a fast learner. He’s a sturdy chap, so the plan is to work him in harness and do some of the farm work – harrowing fields, hauling logs etc with him. We’ll also get him going under saddle, and who knows, Lyra may ride him one day. Here he is a year later..
From a permaculture perspective it can be hard to justify having horses for pleasure, but aside from their benefits are many. Psychologically, spending time with horses is incredibly therapeutic. Once Rain begins work he will be useful around the farm, and if he is good at is job, we hope to be able to do some work for other people. The horses also produce prolific quantities of manure, which all goes onto our vegetable beds, and is amazing stuff.
If you would like to support the work that Hollys do, please give them a donation via their website – http://www.hollyshorsehaven.com/donate-hollys
At Lackan Cottage Farm, our hens are truly free range. Kept in small flocks of 8-10, each with a rooster to keep an eye on them, they are free to roam within large netted areas on our paddocks, and moved around every few days so that they always have access to fresh grazing, and manure the paddocks as they go. Small flock sizes mean that there is no bullying or pecking within the flock, and we are able to monitor their health individually. They are fed a diet of GM free layers pellets and corn in the colder months.
The hens are a mixture of rescued ex-battery hens from Nut House Hen Rescue, that we have had for 2 years now, also some rare breed hens, and more recently our own home bred hens, sat by Fluffers, our resident broody bantam.