Thursday, 13 November 2014

Water Pipe laying update

We have decided to upgrade the water pipe here at Woodhayes, the previous pipe was installed in the 1950's, this was a metal pipe which has been prone to leaks due to rust. So we have now installed 800 meters of 32 mm pipe.

You can see the path of the trench here, we have Reg Dyer from Yarcombe doing the work with a large tracked digger. Top soil is removed first and placed in the outer area and then clay is dug and placed nearer the trench, this allows the digger to back fill leaving top soil to go on last.

This photo shows a length of the black 60 mm diameter coil  which covers the 32 mm water pipe, the small length of soil pipe covers the connection junction which joins the two lengths of 32 mm water pipe.

This picture shows the trench set 5 meters from the oak tree so that we  did not damage the root system. The pipe laying was quite a task especially connecting the junctions with high pressure. The pressure is now twice what it was before which suggests there were leaks elsewhere, so we are now relieved that the new pipe is in place.

This shows another section of the coiled pipe and a small section showing a join.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Water Water everywhere..

At Woodhayes Farm we are blessed with our own private Spring Water supply. The farm lies below a very large Artesian well containing thousands of gallons of water, consequently there are many springs on the farm. 
Further to the farm diversification into new offices, holiday let and art gallery, we have decided to upgrade all the water system here to cover our additional needs.  
The first phase is to replace the existing metal pipes with new PVC water pipes as we have started to encounter holes and fractures in the pipes caused by rust and old age.  Then we will be putting in a new silt trap to extract sand and silt created from the source of the spring; this has to be cleaned out each year with a manual flushing system. 
At the farm end we are restoring the old 10,500 Litre reservoir, filling in cracks and re-grouting the inside with a waterproof compound. We have also just installed a new 10,000 Litre tank which will double our capacity to 20,500 Litres. 
This November a specialist contractor will bring in a machine to dig a trench for the new PVC water pipe to connect the source of the spring to the reservoirs.
Watch this space for more news and pictures of the new pipes' installation.
New 10,000 Litre black water tank beside the old brick and concrete reservoir built into the ground 

Friday, 11 July 2014

FSB delegation visits No 10

On 24 June I was invited to be part of a delegation from the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) asked to a  meeting at 10 Downing Street. Originally we were supposed to meet David Cameron but the verdict of the phone-hacking trial of his previous special adviser, Andy Coulson, had been announced that day, so understandably he was otherwise engaged.
Nevertheless, we had an insightful meeting and it was certainly a useful platform to voice some of the concerns and recommendations of our members. During the meeting we called for :
  • Switch to growth finance rather than just start-ups
  • Boost to International Festival for Business
  • Better tasking of Ambassadors overseas for UK businesses wanting to trade in those markets
  • Improved links between civil servants and business
  • UKTI and UKEF awareness needs to be tackled, but the services they offer are pretty good, including in the regions
  • Business services staff in UKTI and elsewhere should have a business background
  • Their concern to be noted about a shift of resource from small to medium-sized companies in UKTI
Daniel Korski, who is David Cameron's Special Advisor for Enterprise, confirmed that all these points had been taken board and would be discussed at Cabinet. 


Friday, 13 June 2014

BHBA Summer Social at Woodhayes

On a beautiful summer's evening in June, the members of the Blackdown Hills Business Association gathered at Woodhayes for their annual Summer Social bash. 

Woodhayes has been part of the association since 2009. The BHBA is a not-for-profit organisation which brings together small businesses in the Blackdown Hills area. There are around 200 businesses who benefit from promoting themselves collectively and sharing best practices.

Our evening kicked off at 6.30 with drinks and then I gave a tour of the farm at 7pm. We had a delicious supper of local pork-many thanks to Ellis Farm and also Halco Products and Simpkins Edwards for a barrel of the famous Otter Ale, made just up the road by Otter Brewery in Luppitt.
Tour of Woodhayes

Ellis Farm's  delicious pork 

Discussion in Woodhayes Gallery

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Woodhayes wins 'Best Farm Diversification' award

Woodhayes has scooped the award for 'Best Farm Diversification' at the Devon Farm Business Awards. 

This new awards scheme aims to celebrate the best of Devon Farming. The idea was dreamt up initially by Mary Quicke, a Devon farmer well-known for her award-winning cheeses.  The awards finally came to fruition with the help of the Devon County Agricultural Association together with farming charity, the Addington Fund and sponsored by Stephens Scown solicitors.

Judging took place in the Spring by a panel that came to the farm and asked many searching questions including 'how many hours I spent on a tractor'... 

The inaugural award dinner and ceremony was held at the Westpoint Showground, on 21 May, the night before the Devon County Show opened. Phil Reed, a partner at Stephens Scown, was master of ceremonies. We were up against stiff competition :Wild Beef, Hill Head Farm, Chagford and Lily Farm Vineyard, Budleigh Salterton. We still can't believe we won! The glass trophy and a bottle of champagne were presented by Laura Leigh from the CLA (Country Landowners' Association).

We are thrilled that all the hard work that has gone into the diversification programme at Woodhayes has been officially recognised. Thank you Devon Farm Awards !

Friday, 11 April 2014

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

Of all the trees studding the parkland at Woodhayes, our personal favourites are the majestic oaks. According to my faithful method of wrapping a piece of string around their girth to estimate their age, our oldest oaks date back 300 years. They have been an integral part of our rural landscape, the farm cattle using them for shelter from the Devon sunshine or more often that not, from the rain...  

It is always sad to lose one of our faithful landmarks. The gas pipeline laid in the late 1980's affected many of them and several of our gnarled, old friends have died, so 2014 seemed the right time to put into action our tree replenishment plan.

Over the last few weekends Brian Clapp, myself and our helper Daisy, the labrador, have been putting up the tree guards. Knocking in the heavy posts was back-breaking work but pretty satisfying and not bad for my waistline either... Our sturdy new tree guards should keep the roe deer at bay, who seem to find the little green buds on the trees particularly tantalizing.

The 15 replacements trees came them from Dulford Nurseries, Cullompton who are always a font of tree knowledge. 7 were Quercus robur (English Oak) and 8 Quercus Petraea (Sessile or Cornish Oak). They all went in one wet Friday and seem to be thriving. 

This weekend we will be killing the weeds around the bases of the trees to give them the best start possible. Watch this space for updates.

New tree and our helper Daisy

Mature oak tree