In the extraordinary Spring of 2020, when the country was basking in sunshine but we were all in lockdown because of COVID-19, life at Kerswell Farm was a hive of activity. We’re always busy, but the big difference, of course, was that there were no guests in our cottages! This has been such strange period of time, having only just built our little business and starting to get guests coming back to us time after time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the farm, we have had it all to ourselves.
We started before lockdown laying an overgrown hedge along one boundary. What a job. As complete novices, it was a very steep learning curve as well as extremely hard physical work. By the end of March, when we had to stop so that we didn’t disturb nesting birds, we’d laid just 75 metres of the 200 metre stretch. Even this much has not only yielded enough firewood for at least one winter, but also chippings to make a thick mulch over the floor of our large new fruit cage. Within a very short time, the hedge was sprouting upwards, and now at the start of June, it is full of growth and it’s difficult to see the laid branches in places. Nature is wonderful! It’ll turn into a much healthier natural environment as it grows, providing habitat for many creatures, and will also form a strong stock barrier if we choose to graze that field.
Once the hedge project came to an end, we turned our attention to the kitchen garden. Having only wrestled the area from a patch of brambles and weeds last year, there was still a lot of digging and weeding to do. A trailer-load of sheep manure from our neighbour has been dug in too, and crops are flourishing! We love to ‘grow our own’ and also to share produce with our cottage guests. With many things started off in the greenhouse, peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, lettuces, peppers, onions, potatoes, chard, carrots, garlic, brassicas, leeks, beetroot, parsnips, sweetcorn, aubergines, many herbs, chillies and even some lemon grass are all coming along well and will be welcomed into the Kerswell Farm kitchen and onto the plates of cottage guests as well as ourselves. The fruit garden is just starting to take shape as well, and we have various currants, gooseberries, blueberries, tayberries and cherries in our new, very substantial (!) fruit cage. In time we will add more fruit and it’ll find its way into puddings, jams and chutneys.
The extra time we’ve been able to spend working in the garden and around the land has been an unexpected joy of the lockdown period. So lucky to have so many acres to roam at will with no need to leave our own land for exercise and fresh air, we feel so fortunate. It’s been the most challenging of times for many however, and we would have loved to be able to share our good fortune. As restrictions ease now, we look forward to welcoming friends old and new to enjoy the quiet of the natural setting, take some deep breaths of clean Devon air and truly relax after these difficult months.