As of April 2016, we have five horses, three goats, two dogs, two cats, 12 chickens four ducksand three geese.
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.
The working horses that helped us until recently were a family group of three (part-Dales sire, dam and foal) which arrived in late 1999 pulling a gypsy caravan and trolly turnout. Sixteen years on and Samson, the dad, is the only one left, enjoying his well-earned retirement. A family of four coloured gypsy cobs were rescued and brought here, with hopes of training up the two youngsters to take over.
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. We rent some of our land for short periods to local farmers to graze their animals. We raise geese specifically for their meat and we also eat meat which is produced as a by-product of the milk and eggs, that is to say excess billy goats or cockerels. More recently we have been eating 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