Carolyne and Somerset Charrington, Treshnish Farm, Isle of Mull
The Charrington family have been farming at Treshnish since 1994, and in this time they have seen the bio-diversity and wildlife improve dramatically. The farm has a flock of about 650 sheep made up of Blackface hill ewes, in-bye Cheviot and Zwartble cross ewes. Cows from another farm graze here in the summer so we can continue to manage the habitats properly.
Treshnish Farm: The land that shapes our story
LEAF Open Farm Sunday is a great national event. Looking on their website there were not that many farms in Scotland involved, and none on the west coast when we registered. It would give us an opportunity to explain a bit more about our style of hill farming, the importance for wildlife of having both cattle and sheep, and how bio-diversity can be improved though grazing management.
I had silently thought that if we had 15 or 20 visitors I would be pleased. I think we had about 35 in all. There was only about 5 minutes in the day when there wasn’t anyone for us to talk to. And hopefully, during the course of the afternoon, we managed to chat to everyone who had wanted to talk to us.
Our idea was to do nothing fancy. We didn’t have an army of staff standing by to help so needed to keep it simple. The bottle fed lambs were no longer on the bottle and so they couldn’t be an attraction for younger visitors. The cows were off grazing at a distance from the track. We made signs to guide visitors to park in the field at Haunn if they didn’t want to walk all the way down to the newly appointed ‘Coronation Meadow’.
In the few days running up to Open Farm Sunday, Farmer had worked hard to clean up the farm yard and farm buildings. Everything was looking very spick and span. The stack yard had seen the most cleansing - even the old caravan had disappeared!
We printed off information sheets about the on-farm small scale renewables, about our farming practices, our grazing regimes and the different habitats to be seen on the farm. As the season was so behind ‘normal’ years I printed some photographs to show what can be seen later on. There are lots of regulations we needed to adhere to, and the need for many signs which we duly printed and displayed.
What a beautiful day! Finally at about 1.30pm we were ready to receive visitors.
John Clare from RSPB/Mull Ranger Service very kindly agreed to lead a wild flower walk, and his partner Sue came along to help.
The wild flower walk set off at about 2.40pm and they got as far as ‘beyond Haunn’ having found plenty to look at, including Wood Bitter Vetch. They got back after 6pm! Wood Bitter-vetch is a rare plant, but seems to grow abundantly here. I love how it changes colour throughout its flowering.
After the wild flower walk.. cups of tea, with scones and cream and raspberry jam. The last visitors left 2 and a half hours after the event officially closed - at 7.30pm! We were exhausted! We did find the experience a little stressful, but it had been a good day, and hopefully everyone enjoyed it as much as we did.
Thank you to everyone who made an effort to come, and again to John and Sue for coming to help.
After something to eat, we walked down to Haunn to look for the Wood Bitter-vetch and the fragrant, greater butterfly and small-white orchids John had found at Haunn. What rewards!
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