Sunday, February 5, 2012
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Sunday, October 31, 2010
As we are on clay it can get very boggy so we like to bring the horses in during the really wet weather and use the arena for turnout. This has been less than ideal but we now have it sorted - forever. It has taken us around 18 months to secure a further 3 acres that we will use for winter turn out only. The land is right at the rear of our stable block so that means we can get the horses in and out quite quickly without having to walk larger distances. The land has had cows on it and more recently sheep. Our intention is to keep it for the horses. We'll be planting hedgerows around the boundaries but there is excellent stock fencing down one side and oak post and rail down the other. we spent a day clearing an entrance way, putting a pipe in the ditch and building an access. There was a natural gap in a hedgerow flanked by 2 trees and it has made an interesting arched entrance way. Late next spring we will clear the field and do some ground work ready for the following winter. The pictures show the newly created access and the field. There is a very large oak in the field. You maybe able to pick it out in the picture.
We had a day out at Doddington Place where the Hawking Centre operates from. As a bit of an 'offiste' we had an Insight Day. You begin with flying the smaller owls, and as your experience grows you progress to flying vultures and eagles. The video here shows Susi flying the vulture. The day is completely hands-on, and the emphasis is on handling and flying as many birds of prey as time allows. You gain a huge insight into the world of the bird of prey with many different species.
After lunch we flew the Harris Hawks around the 500 acre private estate. It is a great day out and something very different from the usual routine. Weather was really good which helped.
The arena has been in place for 4 years at Stone Circle Livery. The maintenance to date has involved fixing the odd broken rail and kick-board. Heavier use has meant that the perimeter areas needed to be topped up as the sand and rubber chips get thrown out of the arena where the horses hooves are most active. There are no quick fixes so a proper job involves taking back all of the existing surface and relaying it once additional silica sand has been added. A full resurface like this costs around £5,000 so as a guide an arena needs £100 of maintenance a month or £25 a week. Good to know if you are planning to run a livery yard. Pictures show the surface being bunched together in the middle awaiting to be pushed back over the new sand. Also you can see the size of the lorry the chips arrive on so good access is very important.
Frances Clayton, who is the Communications Manager for Kent Downs AONB (Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty) organised a visit to Stone Circle Livery for a group of professional conservationists
The group of mostly Conservation managers from UK Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, were looking at use of ponies on conservation sites for grazing. They arrived from all over country incl Sussex, Devon, Northumberland and Southport. The pictures show the group discussing the land and pasture standards as well as the benefits of ponies as conservation grazers after taking a full walk around.
Stone Circle Livery was in the Scilly Isles recently where they use Shetland Ponies as conservation grazers. Pictures show the ponies and the sign explaining the conservation grazing programme.
For more info follow the links.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
We've been shearing sheep in to the night. Good news for the sheep as it is getting hot. Fleeces are worth nothing at the moment. Less than £1 each. It costs £5 a sheep to get them sheared. Also, because we have had such strange weather the sheep have not produced the best wool this year. We have rare breed sheep at Stone Circle Livery. Soay sheep are from the Isle of Soay in the highlands. Southdown sheep are also rare breed and we think they look like teddy bears. Both breeds do well in Kent. The pictures show the sheep after a short bahhhhck and sides and the fleeces stacked up ready to go.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Here are a couple of pictures of the new barn. The roof is on at last. So now we'll do the sides over time. Hopefully should have the doors on in a month. The guys who built it are based in Wales and travel quite a way to erect the structure. We had to hire a telelift and a cherry picker. Nightmare hiring plant in the UK due to insurance requirements. You need hire-in plant insurance with cover up to £50,000 for any one item. The cover is not cheap. Still. You couldn't do the job without it.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
We all need a break now and then so we all headed off to Hickstead for the British Jump Derby Meeting. Ellen Whitaker put on an amazing display to take first for Great Britain on Henri De Here and the top prize of £6,000 in the Bunn Leisure Speed Derby. She is an amazing rider to see in action. Hickstead is so much more than a Derby Meeting and when it is under glorious sunshine it makes it a great day out. A hit for us were the carriage driving ponies. There are a few pictures here to give you the idea.Probably the best part of Hickstead is the atmosphere. People and horse all milling around together in open space. It is a very unique set up. Full results and future events can be found here. http://www.hickstead.co.uk/index.php
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Here's Susi the manager of Stone Circle Livery. Found all of this on a Google Search. Amazing what is out there! It came from EcoVillage at the Kent County Show. Stone Circle Livery were at EcoVillage as part of our year as Kent Environment Business of the Year 2007/8.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Back in 2008 horses were put on the pasture when it was very wet. With it being clay soil it got trashed in a matter of days. We have spent the last 2 years trying to fix it.
The pictures show how the field was - you can see a lot of creeping buttercup. We created a seed bed using a scarifier. You'll notice that the scarifier not only produces a seed bed but it uproots the creeping buttercup. That's the big pile of green stuff you can see in some of the pictures. In addition there is a pic of the topper on the back too. Firstly we scarified to get the buttercup out. Then we used the topper to mow it back. We then scarified again to start producing the seed bed. We went over the ground a few times and you can see a close up of the seed bed the scarifier produces. Then we seeded using a broadcast spreader, organic grass seed with a herb mix.
This was then rolled in. Some people don't like rolling in but this field is on a slope, we are due rain and once rolled the excess water will drain downhill without taking the seed with it. Well that's the plan. We have tried just about everything else so let's see how this goes????
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The meadows appear to be doing the best they ever have. There is an excellent mix of grasses and flowers. The wild flower that does the best on our clay soil is Birds Foot Treffoil. That is the yellow tinge you can see in the picture. We experimented with an organic seaweed fertiliser and the results seem to be quite good so far. Full report when we make the hay. We will also be testing it on a paddock to see how it works out. The earthy stripe in the distance is where we have seeded the additional 18 acres we added to the holding at the begining of the year.
The bluebells attract all sorts of wildlife including humans. The picture here of a Speckled Wood butterfly was taken by one of the Stone Circle Livery clients who is a keen photographer. The aptly named Speckled Wood flies in partially shaded woodland with dappled sunlight. The male usually perches in a small pool of sunlight, from where it rises rapidly to intercept any intruder. Both sexes feed on honeydew in the tree tops and are rarely seen feeding on flowers, except early and late in the year when aphid activity is low. So the picture you see here is quite a rare sight.
Towards the northern and eastern margins of its range, the Speckled Wood breeds only in woodland habitats so it is no surprise to see one in our woods. There are plenty of open areas that allow sunlight through. In the main, the Speckle Wood likes a range of grass types as a food source including False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus), and Common Couch (Elytrigia repens). If you love your moths and butterflies you can go to the butterfly conservation website. It's packed with a lot of useful reference. Follow the link below.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
2010 is going to be a busy year at Stone Circle Livery. We have decided to crack on with one of our barn builds and the diggers are in. This new barn will be multi-purpose. It will house our organic hay and feed, double up as a lambing shed when we need it and store our tractors and machinery. We went through the usual planning hell and interrogation and as always they wanted different materials that add to the cost substantially – but hey, that’s planners for you.
All being well we should have it finished in time to store this years hay. We’ll keep you informed of progress here on the blog. The pictures show the ground works. You can see the old storage shed left like an island. We are goung to build around it then demolish it at the last moment. Also a picture of the stone circle on the hill in the early morning sunshine. Spring is here. Fingers crossed,
Sunday, March 7, 2010
At last, the sky is blue. It isn't raining or snowing. The north winds are a little chilly but we can put up with that. Stone Circle Members took advantage of the sun and were straight in to the arena. The picture of the trees shows a line of trees we planted 9 years ago for winter interest. Today they looked amazing.
Over the years we have seen horses demolish quite a few things. Fences, a garden table, various buckets, gates and weatherboarding. This, however was a new one to us. The horse kicked the top of a wall off. When we built the stables we used a lighter block between the stables so that if anything ever happened the damage should be easy to fix and the horse shouldn't get hurt. Thankfully this is exactly what happened. You can see the damage from the kick. We had it fixed within 24 hours and we boarded the grills between the stables. The boarding is to stop the horse responsible for the kick seeing the other one and maybe doing it again! If there is one thing you can be sure of with horses it is that they will never stop surprising you! I think we'll rename this one the 'Karate Kid'!
We like to spread the word on organic horse livery and we were very pleased to be invited to speak at Blenheim Palace. Stone Circle Livery joined the podium alongside the British Equestrian Trade Association, The Royal Agricultural College, The South East England Development Agency and many more. The audience comprised of professional services firms and farmers looking to diversify into equine related industry. Stone Circle Livery provided the pioneering case study. The recession has hit the equine and farming industry hard and the practical advice we could give was very welcome. Stone Circle Livery goes from strength to strength by sticking to its core philosophies and keeping the business at a size that ensures exclusivity for clients. After the event Stone Circle Livery was asked for practical advice from other equestrian businesses. The pictures show Paul in full swing at the lecture and a few pics of the glorious setting of Blenheim Palace.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Today after days of rain the field drains could cope no more. They broke and the water formed a new surface river across our hay fields. We filmed it so we would have a record of where the problem lies. This is so that we can think about trying to fix it for next year. Global warming is delivering more and more rain. This is the most we have seen since we moved here 12 years ago. We\ll see how long it takes to clear. Amazingly our arenas did not flood and a small moat appeared around them. This is probably due to the drainage we put in when we made them.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The heaviest snowfall we have head in 12 years melted and then it rained non stop thanks to an occluded front. When we went to the yard this morning we expected to be under water but the drainage we put in the arenas was all working fine and it was ready to go from first light. This was handy as livery clients were raring to go. We used drainage specialists to build our rubber surfaced arena and it shows. Today felt like a spring day in comparison to the weather we have just seen and it was great to see sunshine on the horses noses and the arena being used all-day. The pictures show the arena and stables early this morning.