A few chickens, plenty of children, welly boots, green fields, fluffy white sheep and some black and white cows?
Well what's the image of a typical family farm that your mind conjured up? We've certainly got green fields, a few chickens, had the children(!), occassionally grandchildren, wellies, a couple of pigs and scores of cattle.
Every farm is different, individual and has their own unique mix of landscape and characters. What creates each farm depends on the soil types, weather conditions, the farmers' loves, their budgets and the topography of the land. Whilst we may dream of growing vast acres of arable, driving enormously exciting computer brained equipment - they wouldn't get through our lanes, gate ways or even enjoy our slopes! Similarly the thought of a vineyard is a no, no, as our soil is not for vines and the majority of our slopes face north, great for retaining moisture but not brilliant for ripening the vines. What we do best is grow grass - just what the West Country is famous for.
Over the last 100 years Kittisford Barton has been a diary farm, a sheep farm, grown potatoes, arable crops but now it's specialism is beef and chickens for the table. We converted the land to "organic" at the turn of the century - following our hearts and dreams for a better, cleaner, more sustainable environment with healthier food as a bonus.
So the farm is very green - in all senses of the word. We buy in calves at 12 weeks old from local organic dairies. They are crossbreeds having a dairy mother and a beef bull. Alan and John very much favour the Angus cross - so many of our youngsters are boringly black! I love the Hereford and Charolaisen crosses that have more colourful offspring - far better for my photos! These characters live outside, grazing the fields for the majority of their lives. But come the cold and wet they are brought inside to the barns to spend the winter enjoying our homemade silage.
On our land we also have thousands of chickens being raised for the organic shelves of Sainsbury's. This enterprise is one of our neighbours' who loves chickens but didn't have the right land to rear them on. This suits us well as he gets to graze the land and produce excellent, healthy birds and our land gets the rich resources his birds produce, along with a bit of rent.
Life for visiting grandchildren and our guests would be very dull if all we had was black cattle and white chickens - so chickens, dogs and pigs are here in the mix too as colourful, entertaining bonuses.
Our environment rich farm, along with the natural beauty of the landscape makes this such a special place to be. Our rolling hills, woodlands, hedges - both ancient and modern alongside our countless ponds and the Bathealton stream means this farm supports a vast range of bugs, beasts, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds.
No farm is "a typical family farm". Although we're certainly a family farm in that its owned and run by 2 generations of Kers, we're not sure that anywhere, except in the picture books and in our own imaginations anything is typical - everyone is unique to it's land and farmers.
So when you next visit, enjoy all that Kittisford Barton has to offer. Pack your wellies, go for walks, enjoy the views, interact with the farmers and the animals, forage nature's seasonal harvests and immerse yourselves in what we feel is a very special place to be - "a typical family farm"?!