Orchard Farm has been farmed by the Boyer family since 1928. Percy and Rose Boyer farmed the land until 1960, when their son and daughter-in-law, Ray and Olive, took over. They ran a dairy herd until 1982, then converted to beef and vegetable farming until 1998. Since then, much of the land has been rented out to neighbouring farmers. In 2004 Dave's parents Ray and Olive retired to Castle Cary and we returned to the farm after almost 3 decades overseas.
Orchard Farm is situated in some of the most fertile and productive land in England and the area was traditionally one of the most important dairy regions of the country. Much of the milk was processed into cheeses, mainly the world-famous cheddar.
Nowadays Orchard Farm is mainly used for raising young dairy and beef cattle, but many horses and sheep also graze in the fields around the cottages. The farm is small by present day standards, being little more than 170 acres. With the decline of agriculture in the region much of the land is less intensively farmed and wildlife, including roe deer, badgers, foxes and many species of wild birds, is increasing. As one of the few farms in the region accredited to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CS Scheme), we take pride in farming to high environmental standards.
As part of this scheme we have a 10-year programme of restoring hedgerows, margins and ponds throughout the farm, replacing those that were lost during the last 60 years of intensive farming. The CS Scheme ends in September 2012 and we are hoping to be accepted onto the equivalent agri-environmental scheme; the Higher Level Scheme. As part of the CS Scheme we have also created a small nature reserve.
Many footpaths and drove roads cross the farm and provide ideal opportunities for short walks through the beautiful Somerset countryside. If you walk quietly you may see foxes or roe deer. Badger setts are common, and although you are very unlikely to see one during the day, you may be lucky enough to see a badger on a quiet road at night.
Since moving to the farm in March 2004 we have been recording the birds we have seen on the farm. No doubt there are still many more that have so far eluded us, but to date the count stands at just over 100 species. With the new habitats that we are restoring to the farm, this list will continue to grow.
Dave & Helen Boyer, Orchard Farm, Coopers Ash Lane, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7NY
Tel 01963 350418