After moving to our current location in Charing, Nr Ashford, Kent, we decided to try to improve our lifestyle and become more self sufficient. In addition to organically growing our own vegetables and making jams and chutneys from the fruit in our orchards, we started keeping chickens for their eggs on a small scale.
I come from a farming background, as my parents, who only live a mile down the lane from us, bought a disused poultry farm when I was around 12 years old. My Sisters and I grew up being surrounded by sheep, horses, goats and chickens. We duly took turns to get up in the night to huddle next to the warmth of the Argur in the kitchen, whilst we sleepily bottle fed orphaned lambs, before being turned out of bed first thing in the morning to help our Dad milk the goats, or bring in the logs!
Twenty years later, it didn't take me long to go back to my roots!
Pats farming experience on the other hand, was slightly different to mine, but probably just as much fun for a 12-year old; it consisted of him being paid by a neighbouring Farmer to ride a motorcyle around the cherry orchards to scare off the birds. The experience of which has unfortunately not stayed with him, as I cannot recall the last time I ever saw a cherry on our cherry tree!
We started out with some ex-battery hens, as we wanted to be able to give something back to them in return for the eggs that they produced for us. We couldn't believe how pitiful they looked when we first got them. They really did seem to have lost all their dignity. After a few months, they had regrown most of their feathers and their trust in people and it wasn't long before they were trying to come through the back door to find us in the kitchen, roosting on our patio furniture, or jumping in the way of Pat's digger bucket when he was busy moving our manure heap!
We enjoyed looking after these so much and they gave us so much pleasure, that we then became braver and bought some ducks and a few geese.
From that, we became interested in incubating our own eggs to further increase our stock. This soon became an obsession as well as a hobby and we were approached by friends to also supply them with some of our brood! We began putting the proceeds of the sales towards restocking and improving the facilities for the animals.
At the same time, having always had an interest in Beekeeping, we enrolled on a Beekeeping Course. This led us to the start of our Beekeeping and our offering a free swarm collecting service in our area. We now produce our own local Charing honey, which is delicious.
Four years on and we now own a Beekeeping Supplies business and we are agents of Maisemore Beekeeping Supplies. We offer Beekeeping Tuition and we now run very successful Beginners Courses in Beekeeping. The feedback from our students is that they thoroughly enjoyed it, learned a great deal, many of whom have since taken up the craft and are doing extremely well with their own colonies of bees, which we have supplied for them. We run courses every two to three months throughout the year, some of which now include a practical in our apiary to consolidate the learning gained from the theory part of the course. (Practical is seasonally available.)
We also run group chicken keeping courses and visit Kent Schools, Clubs and Associations by request to give talks and demonstrations in beekeeping, chicken keeping and incubating eggs.
In 2010, we also tried our hand at pig farmers, having purchased some Berkshire weaners. We enjoyed this learning curve and the delicious supply of meat in our freezer as a result of our farming efforts. We have since dedicated a page on this site to our pig farming endeavours. Over the past few years we have increased on the number of pigs that we have had.
We took part on a Sausage Making Course in 2011, which was great fun, we have added a page on this website which details our experience!
We love the lifestyle and we are really happy in the home that we have created for ourselves here at "The Ark" and we consider ourselves very fortunate to both passionately share the same hobbies, interests and our love of animals.
We are now registered with the local Parish Council as a Small Holding and also with Defra for both the birds and the bees.
We both work, so to avoid disappointment, please do not just come looking for us, please ring us on: 0789 4833779 or 07515 595706. If you don't get a reply straight away, please leave a message and we will call you back as soon as we are able to.
If you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org we regularly check our emails and we will send you a reply.
WELCOME TO THE
ARK, THE HOME OF THE BIRDS
AND THE BEES!