Rush Farm sits like a shallow bowl in the landscape, and is roughly square in shape. At the heart of the farm is Stockwood Business Park and the farm house, with the 20 acre Gannow Wood to the south and the Bow Brook along the northern boundary. The farm is criss-crossed by public footpaths, with a permissive path running through the wood and popular bridleway as well. There are no public roads traversing the farm, although one of the paths is apparently an “unadopted highway”, which sounds rather more grand than its appearance on the ground would suggest!

The trees on the farm are mostly oak and ash, although there is a lot of hazel in the wood and willow along the river. The hedges are mostly hawthorn although there is a lot of blackthorn along the eastern boundary, and roses, damsons and wild apple and pear can be found everywhere. If you come for a walk around the farm in early autumn you will certainly not be going hungry.

In spring the wood becomes alive with primroses and bluebells, and the scent of garlic is strong in May as the ransoms blossom. Hedges are covered first with blackthorn, then hawthorn and finally bramble flowers, and the hum of contended insects is never far away. As the year progresses and spring turns to summer the diverse grass and flower mixes in our fields come into their own and erupt with colour, clouds of butterflies billowing our in front of you as you walk through. We are very careful to avoid making hay too early, to make sure that there is plenty of food for the insects.

Being biodynamic organic the farm is a natural haven for wildlife. When out for a walk you are sure to see a hare or two, causing a brown blur to be seen shooting away at great speed. There are three types of deer to be found, fallow, roe and muntjack. The birdlife is profuse, with larks, snipe, buzzards, hawks, different owls and many many more to be found on the farm’s wetland, pastures and in its hedges and woods. There are also many butterflies to be found, including some rareties, for instance, the brown hairstreak, which will only lay eggs on blackthorn stems on 1 particular day each year, a fussiness is surely connected to its rariety!

Our commitment to wildlife is supported by funding from Natural England, who have provided "Higher Level Stewardship" grants to support the development of wildlife habitats, for instance, the "flash" midway down the eastern boundary was created with stewardship funds, and a great deal of work in the wood and along the riverbank has also been supported.

The soil is a heavy blue clay, although there is an outcrop of gravelly glacial deposits that was quarried in times-gone-by for material to lay paths. The clay makes working the land difficult, as too much rain renders it impassable (even on foot, crossing a wet field was sure to weigh your boots down!), and too little rain bakes it like rock and makes working it impossible.

Before we moved to Rush Farm it was intensively farmed for wheat. This consumed the organic content of the soil to such an extent that in 2005 when the farm was taken over bricks could have been made from the soil! Restoring the life to the soil was our first priority, and we experimented with different grass and herbal leys. Our biodynamic practice is a central part of our programme to develop the humus content of the soil which makes it more workable. Over a decade later, we have seen such improvement that you no longer get stuck to the field in the rain, and our grass remains green for much longer in the dry summers.

However difficult the heavy clay is to work, it is still full of rich mineral goodness, and is absolutely ideal for growing grass. And, of course, by growing grass we improve the soil through the mass of roots and the stability of the biological system grass supports in the soil. The biodynamic preparations we apply develop micorrhizal life of the soil which continues to improve the soil. Being ideal for growing grass means that Rush Farm is focussed on animal husbandry, with a herd of beautiful traditional Hereford cattle and a flock of Llyn Sheep.

The cattle are all allowed to keep their horns, which is a key part of our biodynamic practice. There are over 80 cattle on the farm. There are around 40 breeding cows, with the youngest being around 2 years, and the oldest around 15. Traditional Herefords are smaller the commercial Herefords that are so popular – they have shorter legs – but the longer legged Hereford is a newer breed, having been bred to be exported to America and Australia where the prairie grasses grow longer, and the cattle range over huge distances. Their deep brown and white markings are distinctive and beautiful.

The cattle are very hardy and look after themselves and their calves well. However, they are kept in the barn in the winter as they are heavy and would churn the fields into mud if left out. Cattle are extraordinary beasts – strong and self-contained. They could escape from almost any containment the farm can provide, but they don’t, and we find that they are content to participate in the life of the farm, even coming when called.

The sheep are also hardy and look after themselves and their young well. The flock is a little larger, with around 100 breeding ewes. However, even the resilient Llyns, bred on the wild Llyn Peninsular in North Wales, are still sheep and quite different from the cows. It seems rude to say this, but it is true nevertheless, but sheep are much more foolish than cattle!

Cattle produce their young quietly in the corner of a field, and we never really known when this will happen, whereas lambing is a big event in the farming calendar and is much more involved despite Llyns being amongst the best lambers. Although we always aim for twins, sheep can and do produce triplets and quods, but understandably they struggle to produce enough milk for this number.

The life of the farm is documented in the blog, which shares the ups and downs, the decision-making processes, the vagaries of the weather and the consequences for the farm and its inhabitants. Farming being a rather philosophical lifestyle, the blog also explores many other aspects of life’s rich tapestry!