Help! I hate birthdays, and I’m certainly not ready to be thirty. Last month, while visiting my mum’s farm in Wales, I had a bit of a revelation. I have spent the whole of my twenties away, and as I reluctantly enter the next decade, I‘ve been thinking about what I should do next, and whether it is about time I moved back to the farm to help look after it and take it into the future.
While I was there, albeit just for three days, I had three special bird of prey moments. They say thing come in threes don’t they.
Mum has (in my opinion) done an amazing job of turning the small farm into a wildlife haven over the last 15 years. If bird of prey, being at the top of the food-chain are a good indicator of biodiversity it couldn’t be better: in addition to the above, successes also include barn owls and goshawks having fledged young.
There is a special big oak tree by the kitchen window, sporting great spotted woodpeckers, treecreepers and nuthatches and all the usual tits including marsh tits and coal tits available to view on demand. We also had 60 Redwing stop by in that tree over lunch once!
In the last year, the ant hills have really started to show in the meadows, and as a reward, green woodpecker (rare in that neck of the woods) and mistle thrush have raised some big families. Grassland ecosystems in particular take time and careful management to build up, and her patience has finally paid off.
This land wouldn’t be any good for growing crops, but is ideal for raising high quality beef, which is always in demand and sold purely by word of mouth. It also produces ample firewood from several old coppices and has some interesting archaeology running through it, I think it has real potential for education as well.
Farmland has a lot more to offer than just food, and as a custodian of this small part of Wales and its wildlife my mother and I must take care to look after both it’s productivity, and recreational value.