We are Pauline and Trevor Robb and we first arrived at New Barn Farm in May 2004, initially the plan was just to use the land as grazing for our two horses, but we soon realised that even though they both can eat lots, even they would be pushed to eat 10 acres of grass.
When we purchased the farm, it had two large barns, a couple of stables and two fields which were separated by fencing which was falling down. The stables have been replaced by a new barn and the two fields have been split to enable us to split the livestock when necessary.
Just before we purchased the farm, I was inspired by the first of the River Cottage series, which as we do not have a TV, we had missed but due to a hospital stay where the room had a television.....
As soon as I came out of hospital, we purchased the DVD of the series and both of us realised that if only we had the land, that this was exactly what we would like to do, produce our own livestock where we know what they have eaten and more importantly, what kind of life they have had.
Once we had purchased the farm, and realised that the horses would need some help to graze the grass, it meant that we now had enough land to keep some other livestock and decided to establish a small herd of cattle. We wanted a traditional breed but also a breed where they would be gentle and be good mothers. After lots of searching on the internet, we decided on the Dexter breed and by chance found a lady in Cambridgeshire who was having to give up her herd as she was about to become ordained and did not know where she would be working.
This year, 2012, due to a request by our butcher, we have also established a herd of pedigree Red Poll cattle. These cattle are slightly larger than the Dexter's and are a lovely deep red colour, with a tip of white on their tails. Once again they are a traditional breed originating from Suffolk and are renowned for being gentle animals and producing excellent beef.
Next came the chickens, we had a few Black Rocks, a couple of Light Sussex, who are the real comedians of the chicken world and a couple of Lavenders. Before we had the chickens, I never really believed that an egg could taste so good. To start with, they were allowed to roam all over the farm, but to our dismay, a local fox decided that they were rather tasty. Trevor then had to build a large enclousure for them which seemed to do the trick, that is until the fox managed to dig his way in and killed most of the hens. We are now down to three hens, but are hoping to build another enclosure and then buy some more.
Trevor's next idea was to get some pigs. I was not entirely convinced about this, not knowing anything about them apart from the fact that they smell! (based on watching the film Waking Ned Devine). Against my better judgement, I was persuaded that we should buy four weaners and see how we get on. Once again, we had the debate as to which breed to get as we wanted a traditional breed, one that would produce "old fashioned" pork and one that would not be too aggressive. After lots of research and meeting some pig breeders at one of the Young Farmers Show, we decided on the Gloucester Old Spots.
Our four weaners duly arrived and the rest, as they say, is history as we now have three breeding sows and one boar.
In August 2009, we were lucky enough to rent some more grazing land but one of the conditions of the rental was that we also took over some additional land that would only be suitable for sheep. This resulted in us deciding to expand our existing flock of four by travelling to Norfolk to find a suitable ram and then to Kent to find some Ewes. Apart from them managing to eat most of my orchard, they are actually nicer than I thought they would be. The ram is very friendly, but can be a nuisance when you are trying to move the sheep as he likes to come over for a cuddle and will not take no as an answer.
So far, it has been an enjoyable few years, even though it has been hard work, mainly done by Trevor and we have had a fair share of problems, but that's what happens when you have livestock.
We get lots of visitors, usually by prior arrangement and we enjoy showing people around, especially the kids. The best thing is when customer come back with more orders saying how wonderful both the pork and the beef taste.