The farm offers something to people of all ages. You may find that you learn new skills and/or revisit/develop old ones.
While being on the farm, you will be in the ‘here and now’. You may find that you are able to reconnect with your emotions, rather than be stuck in a repetitive cycle of less helpful feelings and thoughts.
People benefit who might be feeling lost with their emotions and are seeking a way to find balance in their lives.
Coming to the farm will appeal to people who like to be active, creating a shared experience.
All our livestock live as natural life as is possible on a farm. We provide a safe habitat so that we can look after them with little medical intervention. They increase the bio-diversity of the land. We have visits from badgers, foxes, swallows, buzzards, green woodpeckers, herons, fieldfares, sparrows, tits, robins, bees, beetles, wasps, butterflies and occasional visits from red kite and lapwings. We aim to keep the pasture in good heart, our soil is home to plenty of worms and micro-organisms.
We have a small flock of shetland sheep, who live on permanent pasture in Hamsey. Shetland sheep can easily be frightened and have a tendancy to behave like wild animals. However they will train with food, some becoming very friendly! Once they know you mean no harm, they often seek attention. Everyday we walk in their fields to keep a close eye on their wellbeing. Occasionally we might need to round the flock up.
The year for sheep has distinct events: in autumn, the ram goes to 'tup' the ewes. In spring our ewes lamb outside near to the barns. Ewes and lambs are in the fields all summer. In early summer the sheep need shearing and we sort the wool. In the late summer the lambs are weaned so that the ewes can have a rest from feeding them! Our Shetland sheep are slow growing primitive type, so we keep them for up to two years before some of them go for meat or for breeding.
Sheep have been farmed for many thousands of years, probably originating from Turkey. They have developed an interdependent relationship with farmers. They give a shape to the year with their different needs. You can get to know our sheep, learn how to handle them and keep them well.
You can meet the hens and rooster, learn how to look after them, including cleaning out their house, feeding them, observing and learning about their behaviour.
We keep free-ranging organic hens of many traditional breeds, they lay delicious eggs! They live in the fields with the sheep and horses, scratching and scavenging, displaying their natural behaviour. Chicken have a strong sense of hierarchy, pecking each other to show who is in charge (hence 'pecking order'). You can observe this, especially when feeding them. In spring and summer, some hens will go broody and hatch chicks, and like most young creatures, are a delight to spend time with.
We have two ponies and two horses, who give much opportunity for interaction, grooming and handling. Horses and ponies offer a lot in the way of therapy. They are responsive to people and have a large emotional brain. They are herd animals. Our small herd of four will enable you to observe their interaction. They also provide fantastic horse manure which we collect for our vegetable garden.
Owena & Ivan
I was a class teacher for twenty years and later an art therapist in the NHS. These experiences coupled with my childhood experience of being brought up on an arable and sheep farm have given shape to the unique experience at Baulcombes Barn.
I bought the smallholding in 2000 and from 2009, I developed it as a therapeutic farm space. Planting hedges, trees, and developing buildings to use with the animals as well as a studio/therapy room.
Ivan joined me in 2014. He brings his experience of working with people as a teacher and youth worker, organic fruit farming, building/construction and problem solving. His involvement has enabled Baulcombes Barn to develop.
We continue to study and learn more aspects of farming, wilding, therapy, especially equine.
This is a short film made by some clients in 2016 about their experience of farm therapy.
This film was made by Louise Hill-Hottinger,
Chalk Square Media.