When we first moved here the land had not been farmed for over 50 years, nature had been left to its own devices and the land was covered in thick heather, wild grasses and beautiful wildflowers including several species of wild orchid. As such it was extremely important to us to protect this habitat and go for an all-organic, minimal impact approach to farming that was regenerative, in harmony with the environment, protecting the land and the local biodersity.
Irish Rare Breed Dexter Cows
We bough a small herd of rare breed Dexter cows in 2020. Dexter cattle are a traditional native Irish breed, originating in Munster almost 300 years ago, from the historical Celtic and Kerry cattle that would have roamed the area in pre-historic times. They are hardy animals and because of their size they are not severe on the land, they love the outdoors with some natural shelter in winter and like a good variety of vegetation to forage - of which there is plenty across the acres overlooking Lough Mardal on which they roam freely.
Dexter Cattle are renowned for the quality and taste of their meat. The beef is marbled and has a delicious, succulent flavour. If you'd like to try it we offer our own organic Dexter beefburgers as an Optional Extra when booking to cook up on the BBQ.
Although we have always been organic, we achieved full organic certification by the Organic Trust in Spring 2023. No nasty chemical fertilisers, nitrates, weed-killers, pesticides or herbicides are ever used on the land or our vegetable garden. Organic standards are based on the principles of health, ecology, fairness and care. Livestock standards are based on the five freedoms: freedom from malnutrition, freedom from thermal and physical discomfort, freedom from injury and disease, freedom from fear and distress, freedom from unnecessary restrictions of behaviour.
In other words; happy healthy free-range cows.
Along with our Dexter herd we also keep a small flock of 'rescue' hens saved from intensive caged farms, where they are typically destroyed at 1-2 years old when considered to be past their ‘commercial viability’. They are still good egg layers, just not laying as many as the commercial farms would like. Seeing the condition of a rescue hen when it arrives is not for the faint-hearted; they have lost feathers, their combs are torn, bloody or gone altogether, they have flesh wounds and their feet are mangled. Watching them spread their wings for the first time and adapt to their newfound free-range life restores the heart and within weeks they look like normal healthy chickens again. And their eggs are yummy.
We are also members of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and adopt a 'Don't Mow, Let it Grow' approach, leaving our meadows, verges and hedgerows 'au naturel' throughout the spring/summer.