EVENT for the diary
9th Aug 2011 and monthly every tuesday
EVENT for the diary
12th July 2011 and monthly every tuesday
What THE PRESS say
-Our Eighth Year-
Wonderful to welcome our swallows and our guests back in
lovely weather. Here is some recent feedback:
Swallows Nest - "Thank you very much for your hospitality!
We enjoyed your beautiful and very comfortable cottage and
the amazing garden and lakes. The fresh eggs and the Jim Jam
were the highlights of the mornings."
Wrens Nest - "Thank you for a wonderful holiday. We've had
more time to talk, share, breathe and think over the past 3
days than the past 3 months! A perfect retreat. See you
Our blog photo shows Jim and wonderful Workawayer Elle
building a duckling run last May. Now the ducklings and
Mother Duck lasted in that run less than one day before
they found a way out and ran from source to the ponds,
just one day old! Three surviving duck (three quarters
wild mallard and just one quarter runner duck) are fully
grown and live wild on the ponds. Now we are midst the
crackdown on all birds including backyard flocks being
kept in and away from wild birds due to avian 'flu. You'll
be pleased to know the chickens have settled into being
confined to the fruit cage although each day when we clean
the coop and feed, they ask for freedom! Well as for those
wild ducks, they stay on the pond away from backyard
flocks confined by regulations, hopefully until the end of
How lucky we are here. Recent guests said: "Just wanted to
drop you a quick note to say a big thank you for another
wonderful stay at Swallows Nest."
-Our Seventh Year-
We wish you peace in your hearts and on this earth. So
thankful for all the warmth and blessings you bring to
this small corner of the beautiful Blackdown Hills.
Here is more lovely feedback from guests : "Of all the
places we have stayed, the Swallows Nest has been the most
interesting with the added attraction of Joey, Barker, Rimo
and the ducks. It has been paradise. We love the way you do
We are so lucky with our bountiful harvest, lovely
workawayers helping on the land and a special thanks to
workaway Elle who supplied the photo and innovated our
salad process so we are harvesting twice a week now. Also
counting our lucky stars with 4 ducks as April turned out
to be a duck supermum! There are deeper harvests too and
change is in the air, can you feel it? We are wondering
about evolving Devon Eco Holidays so watch this space.
Lovely feedback written on recycled poster from guests :
"Thank you for being such gracious hosts - was a pleasure to
have met you all".
A glorious spring is unfurling here in the beautiful
Blackdown Hills. Our working horse, Joey, has pulled his
grass harrow, various tyres, many ash branches and a
yellow builder's bag of heavy garden material so far this
year. We thank Kate Mobbs-Morgan for her visit ensuring
we're properly set up to work including our tack! We're
delighted to report that our 'new' five ex-battery hens
are recovering well although one seems to have a
spontaneous recovery to egg peritonitis which is normally
fatal, so fingers crossed for her full recovery. We're so
excited that our khaki Campbell duck called April is
successfully brooding a clutch of 14eggs due to hatch
around 7th May. Our lovely salads have restarted too!
There is no greater teacher than Nature, we are in awe at
Recent feedback from guests is: "It was a pleasure to
stay and talk with people who share our green ideals and
have used them to commercial enterprise".
battled with the rainy, mild winter and had runoff from
surrounding fields as never before. We even evacuating
Joey, our young working horse, to Noah's Ark for four
weeks. You'll find no sheep on our land while the
fields recover and our hearts go out to all those
suffering full floods, climate change and loss of
livelihood or worse. Looking back over the last year,
highlights still include Joey, our new duck with its
heart-shaped island, those who help us including
Workawayers, and our guests, one of whom has nominated us
for an award!
Looking forward, we hope to:
1) enjoy the award ceremony at Eden Project whether we win
2) work with Devon Wildlife Trust and Futures Project of
Blackdown Hills AONB to carry on improving our wildlife
3) improve water drainage and care of beacon tree on this
4) continue to inspire others to follow their dreams!
We wish you a fruitful and soulful year of growth.
-Our Sixth Year-
We are so lucky to be part of East Devon Farms Holiday
Group and during our get together after busy summer
holiday season, we made two of the angels in the photo.
The middle angel is made by our last of three Workawayers
this year in her time off. Bless all three Workawayers for
their hard work and all those who've helped moved our work
on the land forward. Magical apple days this October with
heartening feedback and flow of apple juice with local
folk and people from far afield, hosted by Blackdown Hills
Transition Group. Do watch the new film "This Changes
Everything" based on Naomi Kleins' book. We had a fabulous
visit from Bernie Williams and horse Shaman pulling his
gypsy caravan from the somerset levels, generously sharing
his wisdom of working horses.
Recent feedback from guests is: "...many thanks for a
great holiday, the family are getting bored (of us talking
Enjoy the last of this mild autumn's lovely colours and
summer seems to be zipping past so fast. We're busy with
the summer holidaymakers, a great harvest and young
guests. Featured on our left is our friend Michael who
elected to come and help on the land after his 1st year at
university. During August through to October, we have
similar young helpers from an organisation called
'Workaway'. Another new change this summer is a track
system for Joey our working horse and it suits him down to
Enjoyed this recent feedback from guests: "Thank you for
being warm and welcoming. We have all thoroughly enjoyed
We've never seen so many butterflies or moths nor such a
rich variety of young fledglings! Enjoy the rest of the
summer and autumn ahead.
springtime full of sunny possibilities, seedlings, nests,
returning swallows and young life. We're enjoying 3
amusing runner ducklings who initially caused
consternation to our hens. Now growing up by the ponds,
their interaction with the wild ducks is interesting. The
wild mallard female seems to be teaching our 3 runner
ducklings how to survive around the ponds and she herself
is much more adventurous exploring with her ducklings near
us than in any prior years!
Lovely feedback from guests and we've chosen a short and
sweet comment from the nature diary: "Bliss".
Delighted to report we retain our 5star gold from Visit
England, pending their paperwork. Enjoy the summer ahead!
and blessings to you for reading this blog and booking
your holidays here. Recent returners for their fifth
wedding anniversary said: "Its been lovely to come back
again and to experience your warm and friendly
Looking back over the last year, the highlights are our
lovely guests and returners, working and growing with
young Joey our working horse, belonging to these lovely
communities in the Blackdown Hills and our great harvests
again last year. We have not found wildflower growing to
be that easy - a product of the relatively lush
pastureland nor lured barn owls back although tawny owls
Looking forward, we hope to progress further projects
including online booking on our webpages (completed this
month), repairing the raised beds (nearly complete) and to
grow with the lovely energies here!
We hope you enjoy the unknown unfurling of the year
We wish you all a wonderful festive season and abundant
2015. We are happy to confirm that Devon Eco Holidays
(Self-Catering) has achieved and maintained a Gold level
resulting from our Green Tourism grading visit since our
last blog. Our e-Christmas card this year is based on
a photo of the moon in our dark skies taken by a guest. Our
winter months are full of collecting, chopping and burning
wood just as other seasons are full of seeding, planting and
harvesting salad and veg. We've had a very busy year this
year and are looking forward to welcoming new and old
friends and guests back in 2015.
We love this quote by Eleanor Merry from the SW Biodynamic
Group Winter newsletter "In the darkest and apparently
emptiest days of Winter-time the Spirit is most active in
Made a lot of progress over these months, including
persuading young Joey he is a working horse! We're having
wonderful recycled pallet seating made so watch this space.
We had lovely feedback over the summer months such as: "We
absolutely adored Wren's Nest and felt very peaceful there,
at one with the birds in the treetops that swayed near in
the breeze near the balcony, and delighted by the many
butterflies that landed on our books while we were reading,
flexing their wings in the sun. Most of all, though, we felt
very happy being around your warmhearted selves, and
privileged to witness your practical and spiritual work on
and with the land. Truly, an inspiration."
In fact the lovely
folk who gave us this feedback influenced us strongly so you
should see at our entrance a scallop shell as a symbol of
high spiritual energy welcoming you here, similar to that
used by pilgrims on the St James' Way that Jim walked last
We're fortunate to be having a busy season,
along with abundant harvest following the great summer
weather. You can see Jim featured with some of our onion
harvest. We've had similar holiday feedback before about our
lovely dog: "We stayed with you last month and Barker was so
friendly to our son that he got over his fear of dogs and we
now have a puppy! He's a miniature schnauzer and has
settled in quickly. Thanks for a great stay and say hello to
this year and we think our swallows nesting in the barn may
be on their 4th or 5th brood, a combination of good weather
and plenty of food. However our four Welsummer hens have
found it too warm and are only just starting to re-lay now
its cooler, unlike the brave White Leghorn, Blanco, who lays
whatever the weather. Even our young working horse, Joey,
seems pleased with the cooler temperatures. Talking of
which, we went to a brilliant Western Counties Working Horse
Society event. There are a miriad of events going on in the
Time is flying past, just like the
fledglings around and about. Great to have lots of
feedback from guests in Wrens Nest so it was hard to
choose "...We shall both miss being able to open the
doors first thing in the morning and share the splendid dawn
chorus from the woodland around us. Thanks for enabling us
to think, relax and forget the 24/7 of life for ten days."
We are privileged to
have many wildlife experts around us as well as a yearly
visit Devon Wildlife Trust and we'd like to thank
local fern experts for identifying many of our garden and
woodland ferns. Our photo features the graceful, bright
green Soft Shield-Fern (Polystichum setiferum). It is a busy
time of year, with many events on in the Blackdown Hills and
Devon combined with amazing growing conditions on the land.
We are happy to report the cottages are filling up for the
summer holidays so book now before we're full!
Its all systems go again with everything unfurling
together rather than in sequence and our usual race to get
plants into the ground. Even our spring salad bags have
full complement of summer flowers early. We love this
quote from our guests rebooking Swallows Nest in May
"We have often talked about Riggles Farm though and
decided it is THE place as far as we are concerned." Our
swallows have returned and started nesting along with many
other nesting birds.
Happy to report we
got our 5*Gold award again and amongst other things the
field was prepared for summer including being rolled by
lovely Tony & Fly Woolacott, featured in the photo.
Enjoy the coming summer, we hear the weather is meant to
and blessings to you for the year ahead, particularly
anyone suffering from the wet weather who have lost homes
and livelihood. Looking back over the last year, the
highlights are our lovely guests, our achievement in
remaining open whilst Jim walked the camino well supported
by his cousin Roy & Shirley, the record harvest plus
the slow planting of wildflower with a barn owl box to put
up. Sadly barn owls are struggling under the current
conditions. Finally, the addition of Joey, our young
working horse and all of our helpers and training for wood
Looking forward, we hope to:
1) further adapt our gypsy caravan for helpers such as
those in HelpX or WWOOFers
2) grow many more wildflowers - can horsey culture coexist
3) live deeper from the soul and soil to inspire others to
follow their dreams!
We hope you enjoy the wonderful unfurling of the year
We're busy this Christmas and New Year, with both cottages
full and lots going on around and about. Joey, our helping
hooves, is starting to pull light logs to get in training
for when he's fully grown. Barker joins in as per the photo,
our hens continue to thrive although they've stop laying
this winter and Felix, our ancient cat, can be found
miaowing very loudly around the place as he's going deaf and
cannot hear himself!
Our featured review over these last few months is:
"Peaceful little spot, everything we needed for a lovely
weekend away. Really enjoyed it, would love to come again
and will recommend!"
So we wish you a peaceful year ahead of health,
possibilities and growth.
-Our Fourth Year-
Over 5-6weeks, Jim achieved the 500mile camino walk in Spain
and raised around £1,800 for his chosen charity in the
process. This is a milestone for us as an organisation and
for Jim in particular. Firstly we managed to keep the
cottages going along with salad production but only with
much help, in particular from Jim's cousin Roy and Shirley.
Meanwhile, what an amazing harvest we've had this year with
record levels of most fruit and vegetables due to the
sunshine. Also, a bumper apple year and we're impressed by
the amount of apple juice flowing during the October
weekends of Blackdown Hills Transition apple days, using the
new community press along with 3 smaller apple presses. Our
featured review over these last few months is:
"What a beautiful, inspiring place! Thank you for a lovely
We hear it may be a severe winter so keep warm and enjoy the
So much has passed these last months that
the two pictures showing flowforms and garlic plaits only
give a glimpse. The garlic was dug and plaited by a young
wwoofer who joined us for two weeks. The flowforms are
sculptural water forms that help aerate the pond water and
make some of our biodynamic water preparations. Only today
we had a marvellous training day with Kate Mobbs-Morgan
moving us and our new helping hooves, Joey, forward for
logging in the woodland. We've had such lovely guests that
we are spoilt for choice on featured feedback so here are
two different ones: "The views, hospitality exceeded our
expectations, and we have enjoyed every moment. Thank you"
and "What an amazing retreat. So relaxing and peaceful. We
could of stayed a lot longer and will be sure to return."
May this season of late summer and mellow fruitfulness be
enjoyed by all. It seems a bumper harvest this year so look
out for seasonal fruits, nuts and mushrooms. We've never
seen so many butter-, dragon- or damsel- flies!
Three projects all came together in June like London Buses.
The gypsy caravan arrived with its new roof to meet the
needs of our woofers and helpxers. Then our lovely working
cob called Joey arrived. He's young but trained to drive so
wil help us with getting logs from woodland and coppice in
due course when a little older so many thanks to all those
involved in helping us find and care for him. Don't forget
to join us at the Blackdown Woodland Fair on 6th July where
there will be horse logging experts along with all other
woodland wonders. Finally, our lovely biodynamic flowforms
are in place and working to help us keep the ponds clear so
more next month.
We cannot believe that midsummer is past and we're headed
into shortening days already. Our featured feedback in
Swallows Nest this month is a lovely note from two little
girls who drew and made figurines saying "thank you thank
you, it was really fun". Lots of fledglings about now so
here's hoping the weather settles into a sunny holiday
Its all systems go now the weather has warmed and spring has
unfurled with hatchlings, lambs and a race to get plants
into the ground. Sweet family in Swallow's Nest gave our
featured feedback for Apr/May "Once again we will
remember the past week as a lovely and unforgettable week.
It is becoming more and more like coming home when arriving
at Swallows Nest." Our swallows have returned and started
At our spring stirring with the South Devon biodynamic
group, we found a gypsy caravan that is currently being
re-roofed and will meet the needs of our woofers and
helpxers. Alongside, we're on the lookout for a lovely horse
to complete the biodynamic cycle of returning compost to
land and hopefully help us with getting logs from woodland
and coppice with a lot of help from our friends!Enjoy the emerging summer with its ups and downs!
We've planted 10 juicing or crab apple maiden trees along
the drive with 8-10m between just in case we can adapt
habitat for barn owls. Plus this beautiful crab apple
M.'John Downie' - queen of all tree gifts planted by Jim
with valued help from Linda! Lovely couple in Swallow's Nest
gave the following featured feedback for March "...it
was wonderful, restful, stunning scenary, peaceful getaway.
We will be back."
Weather is back to sleet again today so lets hope it
brightens up in readiness for our Easter guests! The last
weekend of Feb was the Blackdown Hills Transition Seed Swap.
The Blackdown Hills Hedgelaying Event yesterday was
inspiring. We are nearly catching up with our wood cycle
thanks to help from Dan. Salad production started again in
February so its been all go.
Enjoy the Easter break and the coming of spring.
Heartfelt thanks and blessings to you all and wishing you
a wonderful 2013. Looking back over this wet year, the
highlights are our guests, our Green Welly Award, the PV
panels working well despite a lack of sunshine and the
ever increasing wildlife - we've had more glow worms and
fledglings this year than on record!
Looking forward, we hope to:
1) accommodate helpers such as those in HelpX or WWOOFers
particularly with the wood cycle as we are definitely
behind on wood splitting and stacking
2) challenge ourselves to grow more wildflowers - so far
we've simply encouraged the existing ones so we're looking
at methods to increase say, barn owls
3) Jim is hoping to take time out to walk the full camino
pilgrimage! Not sure how we'll manage him taking 6weeks
out so watch this space.
There are early signs of spring so lets hope the next few
months are not fiercely cold. Enjoy the unfolding year.
-Our Third Year-
Our dog Barker has been a star
including helping us herd Tony Woolacotts' sheep out of
the coppice and back into the fields where they were meant
to be. Autumn has moved into a wintery feel with
lovely colours on the trees and cottages are still busy.
Great apple days by Blackdown Hills Transition Group
during Oct and now Visit Britain 5 Star Gold inspection
coming up for us and maybe a Green Wellie Award. We're
delighted to receive recently the following poem from a
guest at Wrens Nest and featured feedback as blog for
oct/nov - we think it captures the spirit of place during
this wet year.
plateau as deep as life itself, and
deeper. A blackness in the greens a peatiness in the clear air, damp and heathy and old.
Walk among names of
outstanding natural beauty: Hemyock, Luppit, Upottery, Smeatharpe, Matthays, Rawridge, Riggles Cross, Churchinford,
Hartridge River Otter, Yarcombe - a charmed place. Buzzards wheel overhead - black tick marks against the summer clouded sky.
Springs abound and
suffuse the claggy ground,
sucking at your boots, twisting your hips, stretching and straining your
Horses churn the
ground into a sticky, gripping, oozing,
mess; you have to pull hard to free a foot and seek the next best footing- the one least likely to suck you in.
Stumbling on, the way is drier but always
up or down, or canted at an angle to twist the
spine and hips or strain the ankle. You have to work at your
Uneven folds conceal the way: a
track, a field, a Buddhist monastery, a farm, a brewery, a
stream - enchantment mixed with the
exhilaration of breathy exertion.
We thank Elderflower Kitchens for
sending us their photo featuring our salad served at a
wedding during the local Strummer of Love Festival. We
were delighted to receive the following creative writing
from a guest at Wrens Nest and featured feedback as blog
for September. We just
hope we don't fall short of this mark too often!
the ultimate achievement
is to live in harmony with the land that supports us,
then here, in a tiny microcosm of energy,
you will find healing, gentleness and peace.
If the ultimate achievement
is to live in harmony with your neighbours,
to give a welcome to fellow travellers and kindred
then here you will find a template for a future.
If the ultimate achievement
is to find truth and satisfaction in honest toil,
to become at one with being, to be and live the moment,
here you will find the possibility of om.
If the ultimate achievement is be at one
with your god, with yourself, with the world,
with the flows and ebbs of existence,
then here would be an excellent place to start.
C P Bell
We feel lucky to get a potato crop this
year as blight is rife with all the wet weather so here's
hoping these two varieties shown in the wheelbarrow store
well. They were dried, brushed and bagged into hessian bags.
Lovely couple in Wren's Nest gave the following featured
feedback for August "Thank you so much for your
incredible hospitality. We enjoyed our stay in this idyllic
setting. Could not have been more perfect! Look forward to
seeing you again this fall."
Back to rain again today so lets hope the bank holiday is
not a wash out! Forgive our brief blog but guests are
arriving around 10pm and we have a turnaround on bank
holiday Monday and more guests arriving so its been a busy
season. We wish you a wonderful harvest.
Mothing took place on 1st July but our marvellous moth
expert and helpers identified the moths in the barn away
from the drizzle. Like many other places, the count is about
50% down in numbers but we're pleased to report an increase
in species. To our delight, we've had a bumper sighting of
glow worms in July with 8 spotted just last night making 14
glow worms in total this year reported to Devon Wildlife
Trust's Glow Worm survey. That's seven times the number
spotted last year. Prior to last year, we believe no glow
worms have been seen in this specific area since 1993.
Perhaps its our biodynamic approach?
Wonderful guests faced floods in the valleys and rain every
single day of a two week holiday but their featured feedback
for July is "The cottage is wonderful: luxurious
and comfortable. The living room has lots of daylight -
ideal for rainy days! The setting is beautiful". Their
highlights were the walk in the woodland with Jim, their
visit to Sidmouth and the kid's specific highlights were
feeding the chickens and boat rides on the pond.
We've moved from rain every day to a heat wave with not much
acclimatisation! So having spent a backbreaking day watering
and tending the veg, we escaped for an evening visit to
Branscombe beach shown on your left. Enjoy the good weather
and late summer.
Lovely watercolour sketch from one of our guests! It
captures the colours in Maytime when the leaves were
unfurling. Everything is looking extra verdant and lush with
all the rains at present. We are hoping to have our yearly
moth count next weekend so we're keeping our fingers crossed
that the weather is going to improve. You'll be pleased to
hear three chaffinches fledged in the polytunnel. We were
treated to all sorts of antics as they learnt to fly,
including sitting on a visitor's shoulder. Swallows and
sparrows have fledged too and we're hopeful they will
We going to feature feedack of the month on the blog so here
goes for June:"Thank you for a wonderful stay at
Swallow's Nest and for your hospitality and kindness whilst
we were there. We had a wonderful time. We have never been
on an eco holiday before, but loved it!".We've
had help from Oliver of HelpXer and may just be catching up
with planting out after the rains, thanks to all our helpers
Enjoy the change from midsummer into true summer!
Summer has arrived with such a song. We're over the moon to
show you a quick snap of a tawny owlet in the woodland. We
continue to see the parents during the day but they are
hiding the owlet well. Also, a glimpse of the perfect
chaffinch nest built into the wooden door of the polytunnel
and behind the vine. The nest is made from grass and lined
on the outside with moss and lichen and delicate feathers on
the inside. The photo on the left shows two eggs
hatched and two eggs to go. Today we're happy to report
three are hatched and gaping for food with parent
chaffinches catching insects in the polytunnel for the
chicks which is great news for the birds, for us and our
Jim and I have both benefitted from short training courses
this month, thanks to Devon Farms via Cosmic. Jim went on a
Social Media course at River Cottage and we have a new
Facebook page and plan to run down the old Facebook group
page so join us at http://www.facebook.com/DevonEcoHolidays.
Jim already tweets and twitters online and he loved looking
at what was growing at River Cottage so we'll post some
pictures over this month. You'll all be pleased to know I've
had two hours training in photography so expect an
improvement on the photo consistency and presentation for
We wish you a sizzling summer.
Hosts of yellow daffodils are just ending, meanwhile in
the woodland the delicate white sorrel flowers are
carpeting the lightly lit floor before the leaves fully
unfurl and the first bluebell flowers spotted today. The
woodland sculpture to your left is the entrance of the den
and you can just spot the teepee structure at the end.
Found out today that vacatio is the root of the
word vacation and translates as time out of busy
day-to-day activities to contemplate the timeless and
eternal realities. Even holi-day has its root in holy days
so it seems right to be doing Devon Eco Holidays here in
this lovely part of Devon.
Easter is coming to an end and we've had April showers
for the first time in three years! Hosepipe bans have
already started in southern England but we're lucky to be
using the winter's rainwater to keep Jim's produce
growing. We continue to supply 'winter' salad to the local
shop and Dunkeswell market and soon the winter leaves will
be replaced by summertime salads. Also the purple
sprouting brocolli has done well.
Today was lovely and we enjoyed our first BBQ of 2012.
Enjoy this growing season.
So much has happened over Jan and Feb its hard to catch
up. There's a glimpse of our salad on Countryfile
05/02/2012 at Churchinford Community and District Shop, we
had our first egg of the year and snow on the same day, a
small but perfectly formed Seedy Sunday event where seeds
were swapped, music made and tea&cake enjoyed. Then
tomorrow the PV panels are going up!
Our half term guests rescued a stray lamb from the
woodland that would undoubtedly have died without their
timely help. Our next blog will picture the marvellous den
in the woodland made with hand coppiced wood. Update of
the computer system is ongoing and pretty painful but we
hope the next blog will be on the new system (watch this
Yesterday was gorgeous and spring indicators include our
first bumblebee, frog spawn, celandine, snowdrops and
crocii. Enjoy the unfolding spring.
-Our Second Year-
Have a look at these hazel chairs, made in an unheated
stable on a cold winter's day. The talented teacher, Ivor,
is in the centre. He patiently guided us through the steps
but we each made our own chair. We dream of making a
Riggles hazel bench in 2012, in honouring the woodland
with natural scuptures. in peace on earth and we hope your
dreams for 2012 come true too!
Fortunate with lovely guests again this year, in keeping
our double gold stars, with sourcing a new water supply
and achieving healthy sales of biodynamic produce. Our
Riggles Hill Nature Nights took flight but have stalled
for the current time for various reasons.
So we wish you a peaceful year ahead of health, unlimited
possibilities and creativity.
A local farmer wisely said "its a funny thing water,
either you have too much or not enough and either way its
in the wrong place". So it is at Riggles Farmhouse just
now that our deep spring feeding our well water has dried
up, along with the channels that feed the ponds.
Wonderfully, two different locals worked together to help
us get a full water bowser here so we have something to
keep us afloat!
A source of pure, clear water divined in the woodland is
now feeding into our water processing system so we're able
to welcome lovely families over this half term and carry
on with our produce. We'd like to thank all those who
helped us during this time. We take water so much for
granted yet without it, nothing else matters. No wonder it
is called Blue Gold.
Salad is still amazing and next week is Nov market. In
the same week coming we have the fourth Riggles Hill
Nature Night on 'Slowing Down' and we hope things do slow
as we're still cutting grass here and harvesting, which
was the theme for October's Nature Night!
We had our second Riggles Hill Nature Night on Moths and
Bats which was fantastic and our next one is imminent on
Tuesday 11th October - our theme will be "harvest" with
sloes, full moon and time to reflect on our personal
harvest. The left photo shows our golden, edible crab
apples called pitmaston pineapple, we only had a handful
last year and the tree is covered in apples this year so
we'll take some along to our local community Apple Day on
23rd Oct to make apple juice.
We are midst an Indian Summer at this time with local
temperature of 30degrees or so and currently we and others
around us on well water are having to watch water levels.
We hear Devon has its lowest water table for 25years and
streams are drying up including the one that feeds our
ponds. We're bringing plans forward for backup water
supplies and plan to close for a week to get the work
done. Is climate changing faster than predicted?
Salad is amazing quality still and we have orders through
to November. Goodness, in a week's time its Oct market and
we wonder what the weather will be like then!
Our first Riggles Hill Nature Night (RHNN) was small but
perfectly formed. We wondered at the tiny puff balls, the
wild St John's wort and lichen with mosses. Only Jim saw
the roe deer who wandered through the firesite. Inspired
to write a poem so here's an extract:
"Funnel spiders and funny arachnidae, all shapes and
Culm grasses, reeds, sedges and hedges,
Coppice of trees, angel oaks, moss-furnished willow and
All cloistered in grace, cathedral of space."
Coming up fast, is the next RHNN on Moths and Bats with
local expert Henry Papworth along with Lynne Kenderdine.
Amazingly, we found glowworms whilst out slug catching
this week and we hope the two females we found may just be
still glowing by tues 9th July to complete the Creatures
of the Night theme. In the daytime, have to say the
dragon- and damsel- flies are gorgeous just now.
The two cottages are full and guests come and go in the
house too! Our produce page is up and running so we have
virtual as well as real produce. August is a busy month,
not only is there much going on around and about but we
are busy as ever producing around 40salad bags and week
and harvesting and storing other veg.
We're amazed its market again in a week's time - the
month comes round so fast. Although the weather is lovely
at present, enjoy the touch of early autumn in the air!
Looking back over the first half of this year and looking
forward to the next half after this midsummer celebration,
there is much going on. The firesite is ready for our
nature night on 2nd tuesday evening of the month but it
was a difficult choise of picture this month as there are
some lovely photos on our Facebook group especially the
fabulous nature picture from 5year old Ellie (see 3rd
Thank you for your support and great comments following
our Quality Inspection where we held our 5* gold award,
including welcome for cyclists and walkers. Have to say
the place is looking glorious in this summer sunshine and
we do hope it holds for the summer holidays. There is a
second batch of swallows fledged this week from the red
barn and many different fledglings and families including
sitings of a roe deer foal in the woodland. Fortunate to
get a second moth count done so now we can compare last
and this year's moths.
We took a stand at the local Sustainability Show
(http://sustainabilityshow.org.uk/) sharing with other
Blackdown Hills Transition folk and supported three local
events, the Open Farm day, the Fun Ride to Luppitt and the
Woodland Fair. Today we harvested rhubarb, tayberries and
raspberries for the freezer, bottled up cassis from the
bumper blackcurrent crop and enjoyed the elderflower
We're at market again in a week's time and realise these
web pages don't say much about our produce and salad bags
so its watch this space. Enjoy the summer ahead!
Swallows and house martins are treating us to their
aerodynamic displays whilst nesting. Riggles Hillside is
looking fantastic, with bluebells just finishing, common
orchids flowering away and different types of nest
activity not there last year, including various types of
bumblebees. Even heard a cuckoo near the ponds in the ash
tree. Clicking on the swallows to the left takes you to
Blackdown Hills AONB calendar events with Riggles Hill
Am delighted to report good rain for the first time this
month, lets hope there's more of it before our next guests
arrive for their holidays tomorrow! A word of thanks to
our referees - we're placed in the top 40 green businesses
in the UK. We narrowly missed the cut for finalists in the
GoldStar Awards to be decided in June but have been highly
commended for the progress made in this, our first year in
the scheme. We're planning an energy saving day include a
candle lit dinner to celebrate Green Tourism Week 6th–13th
June 2011, see http://www.greentourismweek.co.uk/
Churchinford and District Village Shop opened on 14May11
- run by local community it sells local produce, including
our salad bags. We have our next Quality Inspection coming
up next month which combined with green issues, salad bags
and planning for the new PV roofing, is keeping us busy.
Did you know you can book us online at Devon Farms?
Enjoy the coming half-term and midsummer.
Blossom is superb this year, a combination of sunny fine
weather without much wind or rain yet at this time of year
we'd expect to see images of cherry blossom in Japan so
we're sad to see the events in Japan and the strange
weather patterns. We've been seeding, growing on, potting
on, weeding beds, planting and watering midst a stream of
guests, both in the cottages and in the house and there's
not been a single April shower to write about! Heartening
highlight from great guests this month is "A home from
home in a fantastic area of Devon".
Devon Eco Holidays has been placed in the top 40 green
businesses in the UK. That is official from the Green
Tourism Business Scheme. We narrowly missed the cut for
finalists in the GoldStar Awards to be decided in June but
have been highly commended for the progress made in our
first year in the scheme.
Changes in the woodland are amazing, there are bumblebees
where there were none and a wild honey bees nest in an old
ash. Swallows are back in the barn and there seems to be a
housemartin nesting above wrens nest bedroom.
Excited to report Riggles Hill Nature Nights start here
on Tues 12th July, every 2nd Tues of the month...7-9:30
£10each - its official there is magic in them there hills!
Flowers are unfurling including the delicate white wood
sorrel flower along with much activity from birds, bees
and butterflies. We've moved swiftly into a warm dry
spring, so planting in the polytunnel has been hot. Garlic
is thriving, potatoes in and the onions are planted. Hens
are happy in their spring/summer quarters which is more
shaded and keeps them off the newly planted beds. We sold
out of salad bags at the new farmers/village market in
Dunkeswell and we're off to market again this saturday.
With the valued help of Devon Wildlife Trust, the culm
grass is growing fresh green shoots after a quick burn
(called swaling) and the upper slopes cleared of bracken
litter, after a lot of hard work in the woodland. Unlike
last year, there's much more activity from the bumblebees
in the woodland. We're delighted to have lambs and their
mums back in the field.
Wrens are nesting near Wrens Nest and its all systems go.
Enjoy springtime and Easter!
February is nearly ended, a month of changing energies,
of Candlemas and Imbolc, of the release from winter and
swift changes in season. Early in the month we delighted
to find a perfect peacock butterfly on the woodpile (see
its photo on facebook at Devon Eco Holidays). There are
toads hopping, frogs laying millions of eggs and leaves
unfurling. Along this theme of change, we are heartened
with the following feedback as highlights from february
guests: "Wood burner on wet cold evenings. Chopping wood
with Jim. Stroll in the woods with Barker. Being shown how
the site is heated etc"
For us, the snowdrop symbolises so much about change, the
courage to emerge from the dark, the hope of light, the
strength of trust in Nature and Life. So we've chosen this
snowdrop carpet in the nearby Otterhead Lakes and hope it
inspires you as it does us!
Finally as we move towards Marchtime, there's progress on
the photovoltaic front, Wrens Nest is nearly ready for
Room Only, Jim's beds are nearly ready for planting, the
new compost bins complete and many seeds to plant. Enjoy!
Snowdrops are out along with catkins and witchazel
flowers as if in releif from the harshest of winters. We
hope you enjoy the photo on the left of a 'besom' made
from our own hazel by Simon. Here are some of the plans we
hope to bring to fruition this 2011:
1) more water butts for rainwater capture - seems hard to
recall we were close to draught conditions last year
2) alternatives to photovoltaic roof on the barn - we
found the roof has complications and have to completely
rethink our plans in microgenerating our own electricity
3) building more compost bins - we've started three more
big bins in the 'growing' area
4) develop hedgerow, coppice, woodland and tree managemen
along with establishing small wildflower sections started
along the border of the drive by the hedge and trees
5) preparing and planting beds early - we are using the
biodynamic organic methods but do not aim to register for
6) work to keep the two gold ratings we currently have
for Swallows Nest
7) complete Wrens Nest upto Room Only status
Finally, we continue to count our great blessings in
living here and welcoming the souls who visit for rest and
-Our First Year-
As the wheel of the year turns on this harsh and snowy
winter, we are priviledged to have welcomed all our guests
over this year and amazed at our good fortune in receiving
Double Gold for Swallows Nest - see press release in News
and Media page.
We're pleased to announce the winner of our creativity
competition, judged independently by bookbinder, Maggie
Clarke, as Lee Trussells' pen and ink sketch of Swallows
Nest. We thank all those who entered their wonderful ideas
and creations. You can see other entries on Facebook.
The infinite creative power of life shines through the
struggle to get ordinary things done this winter. Our
heart goes out to all those who struggle this season,
particularly farmers and those caring for the land, as we
join Devon Farms for 2011.
So we wish you a peaceful Yuletide with a year ahead of
peace, health, unlimited possibilities and creativity.
Cannot beleive the colours of the trees and leaves in
their transition to winter this year. To the left is the
latest entry to the competition by Jane whom we visited
Westonbirt Arboretum with last week on a rainy tuesday.
Even the drizzle could not dampen the gorgeous colours nor
our spirits on a days outing. We're happy to announce
Maggie Clarke, bookbinder and artisan, as our Judge for
the competition. Winner to be announced in our next blog,
end of December 2010. Make sure all your entries are in by
The terracing is complete and there's progress on the
ex-office which we'll now call Wrens Nest including steps
towards planning for change of use. It feels as if you are
in the tops of the swaying trees especially if you're on
its wooden veranda. We are surprised to find Swallows Nest
is still busy!
Last month included the inspection by Green Tourism
which we found hard work so we'll let you know what
happens. As far as the PV panels for the barn roof, we've
found the roof contains asbestos so we'd need specialist
help in removing it, making it much more expensive than
anticipated so we are looking into the possibility of
mounting panels on a structure that incorporates the
smaller existing recycling shed. Musing aloud, a community
project like the impressive one at Shute Primary School
would be wonderful only we're not really near a school
here. Enjoy the colours as we head towards a wintery
Some wonderful entries for the creativity competition
inspired by Swallows Nest and its environs seen on
Facebook's Devon Eco Holidays so its difficult to choose
images for the blog this month. We will let you know who
is appointed to judge the winner. The lovely bright
picture on the left is one of Halina's entries with her
comment "...it was a perfect image for your place of
living and working". The second image is a card made by
children who visited earlier this year.
Harvest festivals celebrated here during this autumn
equinox are inspiring. We continue to be amazed by people
living and working in this rural landscape. Truth be told,
we welcome the quieter feel now the hectic pace of summer
and autumn is slowing down as the days shorten. Three of
four hens appear to be moulting, natures way of ensuring
their feather coats are renewed for winter so we're lucky
to get one egg a day at present.
Jim enjoyed the Blackdown Hills hedge laying course at
the weekend. Quietly, coppicing has started in the
woodland. The last of the beech logs in the carriage barn
are split and now we can start to split the log piles in
the field. We hope the space vacated by our office move
into the house may be useful as 'room only' for WWOOFers
and guests so watch this space!
The pen and ink sketch of Swallows Nest shown on the left
was created by one of our guests and given to us as a
signed thank you card. Now we love creativity in any shape
and form so we're going to start a competition along the
Anyone who has stayed over the past 9 months is eligible
to enter their creation although it must be displayable in
some way on the web. Children can enter their work and we
have another thank you card created by children that we'll
try and display next month. So our competition will run
officially from Dec 2009 to Dec 2010 and the winner
receives a free weekend break at Swallows Nest before Jul
2011 for their family (maximum 4 persons).
This summer has sped past so fast, we can hardly believe
the autumn term is about to begin. Jim's onions, garlic
and shallots are drying in the lovely September sunshine
and we're about to harvest small crops of amaranth grain
and quinoa which are treated in very different ways. Down
at Otterton Mills, we've source locally milled organic
flour for use in our welcome bread, thanks to the good
ideas of friends and relatives that have stayed.
We were humbled today for the following thanks from a
lovely family who've just left: ..."it has been the
perfect place to re-charge our batteries. Have really
appreciated the beautiful surroundings. Hope to return
sometime soon." Do enjoy the abundant autumn harvest and
any time out to recharge your own batteries!
We continue to be lucky with our Swallows Nest holiday
lets and are priviledged to welcome wonderful guests.
Seems to be a fair amount of creativity flowing along with
the waters here and a competition is brewing for the Best
Guest and Most Creative Guest. More next month!
Early mornings or late evenings, the tiny fawn and its
mother roe deer often feed on the flowers in the garden,
it seems the months-old foal is fond of pink geranium
flowers whereas mum prefers the yellow marsh marigolds and
white hydrangea flowers. There is an amazing abundance of
We're delighted to be on the back page of Jul/Aug Green
Living magazine, see
www.greenlivingmag.co.uk/latestissue.htm and we're in this
month's BBC Wildlife mag. There's a special offer for
Green Living readers and we're also offering special early
bird bookings for next year.
Just to let you know, we're planning an office move on
Fri 19th Aug so expect some choas around that time.
Finally, celebrating first fruits and grains of the
season, we recommend Jim's Jams and his Creme de Cassis
made from juicy blackcurrants. Enjoy the busy holiday
season packed full of natural things to do!
-14 July -
Its official, we got our 5* with an extra gold award
meaning our marks by Visit England were above 91%!
We're pleased to report another great visit from Devon
Wildlife Trust who offer much valued advice and support.
We also had a moth survey done on the same weekend as the
Reiki II workshop. They were both brilliant and we're
excited by the amount and biodiversity of moths alone.
Today the chirping of a second brood of fledgling birds
in the housemartins' nest is silent. This same nest hosted
flocks of tiny wrens in the freezing cold winter and its
with a tinge of regret that we notice it is empty. Happily
Swallows Nest is not empty. When our
next guests arrive on Friday, we're fully booked until
There are abundant crops of soft fruit, our first cabbage
of many and great varieties of lettuce that make up the
salad bags. In the meantime, we're drying peas for cooking
and lavendar for fragrant herb bags. Thankfully, it is
cool and there is a little rain so we are not having to
water at present while we plan improved water collection
-24 June -
Karl a local craftsman and blacksmith made this sign for
us made from riggles horseshoes and a lovely piece of ash.
We just have to work out the best method of displaying it
on the roadside!
Good news on the stars and stripes, we've earnt full five
stars plus gold rating, pending the paperwork from Visit
Britain. Also we're pleased to report a great visit from
Bumblebee Conservation Trust who are very supportive and
we look forward to the Devon Wildlife Trust visit soon.
We checked our plans listed below for Jan 2010 and we've
managed all 6 items apart from the photovoltaic roof on
the barn due to the capital expense involved but we're
always reviewing our sustainability and we've got 6months
We attended the local biodynamic group midsummer stirring
and applied the biodynamic preparations yesterday and
today, co-ordinating with all those around the world who
use this form of organic agriculture and gardening. It
seems the wildlife like the process as young cub foxes
walk past a few feet away from the kitchen window as bold
as brass today but thankfully we still have a full count
of chickens. Midsummer has brought squadrons of young
birds learning to fly along with gorgeous weather, so
enjoy this turn of year.
-2 June -
Summertime is green, growing and gracious here. We're
delighted to report the bats are roosting and delighting
us with their nightime flying, along with the daytime
aerodynamics of all sorts of birds but particularly
swallows and house martins whose nests are thriving. We're
happy to report Devon Wildlife Trust are visiting at the
end of June and we plan a visit from the Bumblebee
Conservation Trust who think the endangered shrill carder
bumblebee may be nesting near the hedgerows.
Our thanks to Julie Mullen who interviewed us on Kingston
Hospital Radio. Click on the picture on the left to hear
the interview but be warned, the file is 5.3Mbytes and may
be a little slow to load.
Due to the dry weather, we had white dandelion snow with
many white flowers and seeds opening, including peas. Have
you tried nettle pesto? Its a nutritious and suprisingly
tasty but catch those nettles quickly as its best before
We're also delighted with the nature diary, there's so
much going on here its lovely to capture it in the diary
and our guests are continuing the good work so we'll be
borrowing from the diary to keep you updated here and on
our Facebook group.
-5 May -
Where to begin this month's blog with so many themes and
things happening, such as a pair of mallards checking out
the pond for nesting but without a central island its not
safe. A pair of nuthatches waited at the bird feeder like
jewelled birds first thing in the morning and the
hirundines are starting to nest.
Jim's polytunnel has tomatoes growing and we've got help
from Jim's fantastic mum who is now 84years planting up
seedlings, bless her! We're beavering away in here as the
change in ownership has meant we have to re-earn our
quality stars and stripes. In the meanwhile, guests have
asked us to start a Facebook group for them to post photos
of their stay here and we've also loaded photos sent by
email, so do look us up.
Jim's daily blog on Twitter and Facebook seems very
popular and he's healing well after his knee operation
which has delayed some of the planting. We're delighted
that the new hedge created by laying beech trees has
greened up and many of the willow and other hedging is
growing well, another small step on our woodland
management. Enjoy the late but lovely spring as we move
-12 April -
The first swallows are circling, the woodland has a
carpet of wild sorrel with its white bell-like flowers,
lambs of a caring local farmer thrive in our fields and
the ponds have some lovely blossoms including a mixture of
white or purple flowering snakeshead fritillary. Its great
to share this with guests, family and friends!
Good news as we write, the polytunnel is going up and Jim
has his first orders for plants to sell. Our Easter guests
had the first wild swim of the season and gently rowed the
small flat-bottomed boat in the spring sunshine. We had
wild ducks visiting, both mallards and pintails. Earlier,
the buzzard fished out frogs but left the frog spawn that
has now hatched into tadpoles.
We’re delighted with our first woofing, in more ways than
one; we’ve had invaluable help with planting out and
building perfect wood piles with the help of a young
WWOOFer*. Then we’ve also been learning about the woof -
the archaic form of weft - as in threads that run
crosswise in a woven fabric our guests have been learning
However, we have also hit a few problems along this
journey but no doubt they will resolve in time. In the
meantime, we hope you enjoy this lovely spring season.
*WWOOFer is a Willing Worker On an Organic Farm and
provides experiences in sustainable living – we’re not
registered yet as organic but we are organic gardeners and
members of Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA)
here at Riggles Farm House
-26 Mar -
A brilliant Marchtime, with gorgeous weather and spring
We've made great progress, revamping the web pages so a
big thank you to all those involved particularly David
Dambe. Those of you who asked about our March blog,
apologies for its lateness. We're being encouraged to
write a weekly blog but let us know if you think a more
regular monthly one is enough!
We're delighted to get planning permission for the
polytunnel and its now ordered and due to got up in a
couple of weeks, We've made connections with other small
retreats in the immediate area and further afield,
including a wonderful visit to and linking with The
Hilfield Peace and Environment Project at Hilfield Priory
Delighted to join the Blackdown Hills transition group
http://blackdownhillstransition.org/, a hub to support and
encourage community action that reduces carbon reliance,
and plans for energy
descent in the Blackdown Hills. We're particularly excited
by the local produce and we think its on a par with the
excellent food you can get at French markets.
Also, we joined South Devon Biodynamic organisation and
Tom Petherick of Cholwell Farm www.cholwellfarm.com/ where
Jim helped make the seasonal biodynamic preparation which
we then spread here while we seriously consider biodynamic
organic registration for our produce.
Finally, we're enjoying our guests staying here at
Swallows Nest and we welcome Easter, its guests and
-15 Feb -
The snowdrops are flowering in drifts here, sometimes
tight closed when its chilly and other times open with a
white glow in the sunshine. Even the daffodils and other
bulbs are showing signs that spring is on the way.
We are excited to report not only beautiful chickens live
here now but they lay the most wonderful eggs. Should we
ever find the lead from our camera to the computer, we’ll
load some pictures for you.
Our webpages are being updated as the next step forward so
keep an eye out and let us know what you think. We’ll
report on significant progress for our other projects in
due course. We’re also iinvolved in looking at the organic
alternatives for the land.
We’re impressed at the level of debate on sustainable
technologies here in Luppitt. Moreover, there’s a high
level of caring, creative talent and community all around
in the surrounding villages so do visit and find out more
about local devon life!
Look forward to seeing you soon.
Its a snowy January here after wonderful festivities and
New Year, where we warmly welcomed and so appreciated our
wonderful guests including the retreat at Swallows Nest.
We participated in some of the inspirational meditations
and set out some of our plans for the year ahead while
admiring that full moon, so watch this space! Here are
some of the plans we hope to bring to fruition this year:
1) a polytunnel to extend the growing season, along with
clearing of brambles and other snail and slug shelters
2) photovoltaic roof on the barn - thankfully the roof is
already strengthened in anticipation of the extra weight
3) connections and research into small retreats including
reiki training in Swallows Nest between holiday lets
4) hedgerow, coppice, woodland and tree management
including wood fuel cycle
5) updating the links on the webpages to reflect our
6) chickens and their protection from our resident fox
Finally, many of you are asking how we're doing and how
we spend our time. Each day in the winter we take about an
hour to clean, prepare, light, tend and fuel the wood
burning boiler. We are amazed at how much time we spend on
admin and care of Swallows Nest including the webpages!
Also, today we had fun clearing snow from paths with the
help of Barker, our border collie. So we are looking
forward to the longer days and more clement weather to get
going on our projects and growing those seeds.
Enjoy a healthy, peaceful and productive 2010!
Jim and Lesley Rogan moved on 27th November 2009 with the
vision to care for our environment and make a difference.
We feel so fortunate to be given this opportunity at the
special site and to look after Swallows Nest to welcome
newcomers and those returning for a holiday. We are also
lucky that our first Swallows Nest let was to the perfect
couple and we are priviledged to have welcomed them as our
Moreover we can only thank all those hundreds of people
who have sent us well wishes as emails, phone calls,
lovely cards, candles, pottery not from Upottery, flowers
and even a beautiful olive peace tree! Moreover the people
here are warm and welcoming too.
Jim returns today from his three week commute to complete
his notice on his conventional job, so watch these pages
develop as we do! For now, we will be resting over the
festive season, preparing for the year ahead and pouring
over seed catalogues while Swallows Nest is let as a
retreat over the same period.
So we wish you a peaceful and fulfilled Yuletide Season
with a year ahead of unlimited possibilities.