As of July 2012, we have three horses, seven goats, two dogs, three cats, 16 chickens and three ducks.
Probably less in total than most farms, but we look at our animals differently to most farms. While it could be said that we exploit the animals - their strength, their milk and eggs - we feel we do not push our charges to unnatural limits. All the stock is free-range and what we ask of them seems to us a fair exchange for their food, security and comfort.
Samson, Ruby and Solstice [part-Dales sire, dam and foal respectively] arrived in late 1999 pulling a Gypsy caravan and trolley turnout. Samson was for a long while the main work horse used for carting, pulling out timber and chain-harrowing, but Solstice, now fifteen, has been trained up to follow in his footsteps. She is slightly stockier than her two parents, so there are hopes she may pull a light plough, if we can find one in the farm sales..
We milk three nanny goats morning and evening, which is enough for all the goat milk drinkers plus enough extra from Spring until Autumn to make cheese, some of which we store as feta for winter consumption. The chickens have a large enclosure where they are virtually free-range and they produce enough eggs in the longer days for all our needs.
The ducks are Khaki Campbells, highly trained slug-killers, which patrol the organic gardens keeping them relatively pest-free. The dogs and cats are family pets [the maximum agreed number], but their very presence around the yard tends to keep foxes and other predators away from the poultry. At the moment we don't raise any animals communally for meat, although we have recently agreed that we may have sheep on tack at times as part of our grazing regime. That said, the majority of communards will eat meat which is produced as a by-product of the milk and eggs, that is to say excess billy goats or cockerels and more recently, wild animals and fish which have been hunted or caught. In general, though, communal meals are vegetarian.
Part of the Brithdir Mawr Community website at www.brithdirmawr.co.uk