Preparing for Winter at Hill Farm

Preparing for Winter at Hill Farm

As many of you may know, Ian Snow’s operates from a working farm in North Devon, in between buying from India, homewares and photoshoots, we also keep cattle, sheep & horses. We try to look after our animals as holistically as possible, however as winter approaches it can be extremely difficult to maintain this holistic approach without the animals or the land suffering.

Our small herd of Ruby Red cattle will be being brought into the barn this week, we hate doing this and have waited it out as long as possible but as the field starts to get wetter and the grass starts to turn to mud it unfortunately is our only option this year. Ruby Red are hardy cattle and grow thick coats so being out in the elements is no issue for them, the only thing they don’t like is being stood up to their knees in cold, wet mud and until we implement our daily rotation mob grazing strategy there is no way to combat the mud! Although natively from this area, in the wild they would have ran huge expanses of land and have not been confined to one wet muddy field.  So for now they are enjoying their last few days in the field before they will be moving in their winter accommodation, their barn is big and airy however they are mainly looking forward to the increase in apple feeds!!

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Next week we will be building a new field shelter for our 3 horses hopefully just in time before the really wintery weather sets in. All our horses are rug-less and barefoot all year round, no matter the weather. The only night they come into a confined space is firework night and the rest of the time they live out in their huge fields. It has took time to build them back up to their natural hardiness they would have had in the wild after a life of being interfered with by humans, but they are finally living as they would in the wild and we are looking forward to a rug-less winter! A horses coat has something like 17 different ‘settings’ for all different weather types, their skin is thick and their coat is oily so water runs off like a ducks back. Our horses will stay out all year round however their field will no doubt become wet and muddy as they run around a lot to play and keep warm. To give their legs rest-bite from being stood in mud we rotate them on a daily basis so they always have time to dry off in a dry field.

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Winter can be long and dark on the farm and rather than thinking of cosy fires, wooly hats and mulled wine the image that comes into our heads is gale force wind and hail, head torches and overly excited horses in the dark, running around with hot kettles un-freezing water for the animals and mud- lots of it! However we still try to enjoy this beautiful season and appreciate some of the beautiful sights and nature it has to offer.

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Happy Winter everyone!


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