I had such a fantastic visit to the Pointer Farm, I don't think I have ever taken so many photos in one day. I focused on the majestic English Longhorn cattle, but Jamie did kindly introduce me to all the different breeds which are also at the Pointer Farm. I came back to the studio with so much inspiration! It was fantastic, as well as the Longhorns, I have drawn from three of the different breeds of sheep and the Middle White pigs.
The Longhorns do not have to have symmetrical horns, and no two cows have the same horns. They come in quite literally any shape and size, going in any direction they fancy! This meant it was really hard to choose which cow to draw from, but I decided on this cow as she just caught my eye. I loved her delicate mottled markings and her horns are beautiful.
My pencil sketch of the Longhorn cow.
This is my final print of the Longhorn cow, I am really pleased with the outcome. The Longhorn is so very distinctive and they have so much character and I think that this has translated through the print.
As I said before Jamie works with 5 different breeds of sheep at the Pointer Farm and I have drawn from three! It was hard to choose!
The Valais Blackness Sheep - these have been recently sheared and are usually REALLY fluffy. I can't wait to draw them when their fleeces have grown back!
Sketch and print of Exmoor Horn Ewe.
My new favourite sheep - the Greyface Dartmoor, I loved drawing this ewe, she had the most amazing curly fleece.
Finally... The Middle White Pig!
I would like to say another BIG thank you to Jamie, for taking the time to show we around the amazing Pointer farm. I have really enjoyed putting this blog together and drawing so many different breeds. I certainly learnt a lot and gathered so much inspiration that I can't wait to use on products in the future. If you would like to learn more about Pointer Pedigrees take a look at their website > www.pointerpedigrees.com and follow them on Instagram > @pointerpedigrees.
Last week I travelled to Wotton in Buckinghamshire, to meet Jamie Brewer the head stockman at Pointer Pedigrees. Pointer Pedigrees is home to cattle, sheep and pigs (including many different breeds). However, in this blog I have mainly focused on the majestic Longhorn Cattle which were originally established in 2006 on the farm. I had a great morning meeting all the various residents of the farm and was especially lucky with the weather! The Longhorns are such an iconic native breed and it was great to catch up with Jamie and hear about the progression of the breed over the years.
How long have you been working with Longhorn Cattle?
I moved to Buckinghamshire in 2013, I was drawn to David’s (my boss) enthusiasm so I knew it was the right decision for me to come and work with a breed I hadn’t worked with before It was a challenge to get to the top. It was also a great opportunity for me to shine, with the backing and support to get where we wanted to with the breed.
Where do the Longhorn originate from and what is their history?
History is being made by me!... The Longhorns are beef cattle that originate from Craven, in the North of England. The breed was initially used as a draught animal, which its body is well suited for; the milk was also collected for butter and cheese because of its high butterfat content. The notable long, curved horns that serve to distinguish this breed from others can make an individual appear aggressive, although by temperament they are usually friendly.
What would you say the most attractive attributes of the Longhorn’s are?
People seem to see a lot of negatives to the Longhorns, the horns are probably one of the first things to put people off. People need extra space because of the horns and they carry the negative stigma of many native breeds of being slow finishing. However, with the improvements within the breed this is no longer the case, if farmed correctly. There is such improvement in the breed now people look past the horns and see a good suckler cow. They have a strong maternal instinct, easy calving, high milk yield; they flesh out well with the right food. They will finish on grass (turning grass into flesh) better than a continental, and finishing quicker than most native breeds. Higher profit margins within a beast, with not as much supplement feeding.
How many Longhorn’s do you now have in the Pointer herd?
We have 42 Longhorn cows, 15 two year old heifers which being introduced to the bull this spring. 5 bulls, 2 bought in and 3 homebred and all working. As well as the Longhorns we have Highland cattle. We have 5 different breeds of sheep; Hampshire Downs, Coloured Rylands, Exmoor Horns, Greyface Dartmoors and Valais Black Nose and finally... Middle White Pigs. All pedigree!
The latest addition to Pointer Pedigrees are these Swiss beauties, Valais Black Nose sheep. Jamie imported these only a few weeks ago so I was very lucky and excited to meet them!
Feeding Time! Pointer Pedigrees have 5 different breeds of sheep on the farm; Hampshire Downs, Coloured Rylands, Exmoor Horns, Greyface Dartmoors and Valais Black Nose.
Special treatment for this orphan lamb!
My personal favourites! The Greyface Dartmoors... aren't they just adorable.
Back to the Longhorns...You are in the middle of calving at the moment; do you find the Longhorns to be good mothers?
Yes, excellent mothers and good temperament, but I am always cautious and I treat everyday like a new day every time I see them. As my temperament changes daily, so does theirs.
What do you do with your young stock; do you sell them on to other breeders or retain them for your own breeding stock?
We do a bit of everything, we wean all our young stock at 9 months then go through them all and work out what we want to be kept back to reintroduce in the herd. These are chosen for specific attributes, I am looking for length, locomotion (keeping fit and healthy on their feet), and decent growth rates. You start to understand what cows are breeding what! Anything that doesn’t make the grade has their horns removed and males will be castrated. These are then sold as stores straight away. The ones that make the top 25% are retained and haltered and any we don’t keep ourselves are available to buy both privately and at society sales.
A few of the 2019 born calves.
Longhorns make excellent mothers, here is a cow with her calf which was born while I was there!
Do you sell your Longhorn beef locally, if so what feedback have you had?
Our boss keeps a few for himself, just for his own private functions and events. Otherwise we sell the young stock as stores so not finishing them ourselves.
You show your cattle, what do you look for in a show animal?
I am looking for conformation, something that is stocky not fat but well fleshed. Length is important but you can’t always get flesh and length together. For the cows I want a nice feminine head and a bull to have a strong masculine head. I want width for easy calving and something, which walks well. The horns are irrelevant, with this breed the horns do not have to be symmetrical and can go any direction, the horns are irrelevant to the butcher!
Why do you feel showing is important for you and your cattle?
I think it is more important for the breed, whether it does me a favour or not because I have a good cow. It does a favour for the breed, which has had hard, times but is now on the up! It is a great selling platform for both the breed and me. It is even better when you are winning! Nothing better than your hard work paying off.
Pointer Pedigrees have had a lot of success in the show ring!
What is your favourite thing about owning cattle?
I am just addicted to cattle since my Grandfather introduced me to them. I couldn’t think of anything better than being with him and his beloved Dairy Friesian cows. I bought my first Highland cow with money I got from the Government to fund my college, but I realised my money would be better spent on a cow which I paid off £25 a week for a year! Now the rest is history!
What advice would you give someone looking to get cattle?
Don’t bother! No joking… it brings you great joys but sometimes it can be hard work and painful with loss but the good overcomes the bad and I wouldn’t want my life without cows in it!
I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Jamie, for taking the time to show we around the amazing Pointer farm. I had a fantastic morning learning all about the Longhorn cattle and being introduced to all the other breeds on the farm. I certainly learnt a lot and got a massive amount of inspiration for drawings and prints. If you would like to learn more about Pointer Pedigrees take a look at their website > www.pointerpedigrees.com and follow them on Instagram > @pointerpedigrees.
After my visit to Carr Farm to meet Nicola and her Waveney herd of Belted Galloway's, I came back to the studio to go through the many photos I had taken to try and pick one to draw from. The Belted Galloway are such a distinctive looking breed and to the untrained eye they may all look identical. However, Nicola told me that a Belted Galloway cow should have a short, feminine head and that a long face was less preferable, especially in the show ring. The Belted Galloway, are a tough native breed with so much character, I was really looking forward to drawing them.
The only thing I was worried about was their features!!! With such a black face and with so much heavy winter coat it is very difficult to see their eyes. Eyes being an important feature and often the make or brake of drawing an animal... anyway I tried my best!
Here is the pencil sketch which I did from a 2 year old heifer, her face was a especially difficult, even now I am not completely convinced by it. I spent so long trying to put the suggestion of her eyes, it is hard because you can barely make out their eyes through all their hair. After finding the drawing a little tricky I knew that the print would be even harder, as it is always difficult to put subtle detail into my hand stamped prints.
Here is my final print, I feel that the texture within the print translates the shaggy, thick coats of the Belted Galloway well. In the end I am pleased with the result, after being quite anxious as to how it would turn out!
I would like to say another BIG thank you to Nicola for taking the time to show me her Waveney Herd of Belted Galloway, I had a fantastic morning looking round the farm and meeting the cattle. If you would like to learn more about Carr Farm or maybe purchase one of their meat boxes please take a look at their website, www.carrfarm.org.
On a very blustery Monday morning this week I visited Nicola and her Waveney herd of Belted Galloway. As soon as I arrived at Carr Farm I spotted the Belted Galloways in the distance with their distinctive black and white markings against the green landscape. It was really interesting to hear about how Nicola has grown and established her Belted Galloway herd, especially as she is not from a farming background. I was so impressed to see how much Nicola and her husband David have achieved in just 8 years since moving to Carr Farm. They are so passionate about promoting the breed and its tasty beef, selling it online, at farmers markets and at local pubs. I admire how proactive they have been in such a short period of time, beginning to establish an Eastern Belted Galloway Breeders group to support and learn from fellow breeders.
Last year's calves enjoying a corner of sun on a windy day.
What made you choose the Belted Galloway breed originally?
Hardy and good on poor grazing, polled, easy calvers, not too large, native…..distinctive looking (or quirky), great tasting and different (not many in Norfolk/Suffolk).
What is the history of the Belted Galloway’s?
No-one knows for sure where they came from but it is believed to be from crossing Scotlands native black galloways with the dutch belted lakenvelder in the C17th. The original Breeders Society was set up in the 1920’s.
Belted Galloways are most commonly thought of as being black with a white belt but they can also be red and dun.
How many Belted Galloway’s do you now have in your herd?
44 (2 bulls, 14 cows, 8 heifers, 8 steers, 12 youngsters)
What numbers do you plan to get up to in your herd?
2 bulls, 18/20 cows plus followers – because we are finishing (and that can take up to 3 years) that would take total numbers up to 60+
The Belted Galloway is a hardy, native breed, do you keep them out all year round?
Here is Nicola with some of her expectant cows which are due to calve from April onwards, all the cows are kept out all year round and fed only on grass and hay. In the run up to calving Nicola has the cows in fields near by so she can keep a close eye on them.
What do you plan to do with this years calves, do you plan to sell them on to other breeders or retain them for your own breeding stock?
Bulls are likely to be castrated unless they look particularly special, we may retain 2/3 heifers for our own breeding stock the remainder will either be sold as breeders or kept as stores.
You take your Belted Galloway beef to local farmers markets, you must have a great reaction from customers, do you find it a good promotion for yourself and the beef?
We do a couple of farmers markets and I enjoy the interaction with customers and hearing their recipe ideas and they in turn like to hear what we are doing on the farm. It’s also been useful to get feedback on different cuts of beef, hanging times etc. We also sell alot on-line but the markets are a good barometer for what is important to people at any particular time; price, taste, welfare, feeding, farming methods etc.
Waveney's current stock bull, Meadowhall Idris, has been out wintered with a group of steers (castrated males), which Nicola will eventually sell at farmers markets or through their website where she sells her popular meat boxes.
You show your cattle, what do you look for in a show animal?
Nice and square, level top line, good feet, locomotion and a wide head with thick coat and good belt – a steady temperament also helps – if its too lively or naughty it won’t be going to a show however nice it is!
Why do you feel showing is important for you and your cattle?
We love getting the animals out there for the public to see and interact with – farming needs to connect more with the public and the shows are a great opportunity for this. In the future showing success may lead to us being able to sell more breeding cattle, but currently we are just happy to participate. It provides a good shop window for our farm, the belties, our beef and our PFLA certification
Here is Nicola and Harnser with his Sire Southfield Sonny Boy – who won the best in breed and bull class at the Royal Norfolk Show.
What is your favourite thing about owning cattle?
They are all such great characters – whatever else is going on in my life and whatever the weather I love spending time with the cattle whether it be feeding them, keeping an eye on them calving, training the youngsters for shows or just carrying out the daily checks they are great levellers.
Nicola with her homebred Dun bull Harnser.
What advice would you give someone looking to get cattle?
I’m not from a farming background and ever since I can remember wanted to keep cattle but never had the confidence to get on and do it – now I have them I wish I hadn’t wasted so many years. I’d recommend going and helping someone who already has them to get used to handling them, have a plan for what you want from them and consider the handling equipment you will need. Then if you have the space and the time take the plunge –there’s lots of help out there for new cattle keepers.
I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Nicola for taking the time to show me her Waveney Herd of Belted Galloway, I had a fantastic morning looking round the farm and meeting the cattle. It just proves if you have the passion and drive you can go into farming even without a farming background. If you would like to learn more about Carr Farm or maybe purchase one of their meat boxes please take a look at there website, www.carrfarm.org. Keep your eyes peeled for my next blog when I will be drawings these striking cattle.
After visiting Helena and her flock of Herdwick's I came back to the studio to look through all the photographs I had taken. The Hardwick's have so much character and are extremely distinctive with the small white faces and large, thick fleeces. Tormund the Ram is particularly eye-catching with his impressive set of horns and tufty beard.
The Herwick's have a distinctive contrast between the colour of their faces and fleeces.
These are two pencil sketches which I have completed of 'Tormund' the ram.
A pencil sketch of Arya, one of Helena's favourite ewes.
These are my final hand stamped prints which I created from my pencil drawings. I take all the 'main' shapes from my drawings to create simple stamps from, which I then use to build up and create the coloured prints. I then work back into the stamped prints, putting in all the characteristics and detail. I am really pleased with how these prints have turned out, I think it is mostly because of the character and distinctiveness of the Hardwick breed. They also have such variety of texture and colour within their fleeces which really compliments the hand stamped technique.
I would like to say another BIG thank you to Helena for taking the time to introduce me to her Stark Herdwicks. It was so interesting to learn so much about another one of our countries native breeds.
Welcome back to 'Over The Farm Gate', following the Christmas/Winter break I am really looking forward to starting the blog up again and begin visiting local farmers to share their stories and gather inspiration for my prints and designs. Last week I had my first farm visit of 2019 to local Shepherdess, Helena Wright. Helena keeps native Herdwick sheep which originate from central and western Lake District and would usually live on the highest of England’s mountains. I was lucky enough that I could find these beautiful sheep in the local village of Wood Norton. I went to see Helena and her Stark flock of Herdwicks to find out more about the Native breed and why she chose them.
Helena feeding her flock.
Helena's flock is called Stark Herdwicks, named after Game of Thrones which she loves!
How long have you been interested in sheep and how did you become so involved with them?
I have always been interested in “Livestock” in general with my family since I was born, but my own flock of sheep I have had since December 2017
What made you choose the Herdwick breed?
By chance on social media I saw a picture one day of a Herdwick (Herdy!) and I instantly fell in love with the breed and said these are my sheep!
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the breed?
The are native to the area of central and western Lake District and live on one of England’s highest mountains. The breed dates back to the 12th century with local folklore linking the breed to the Vikings. The name Herdwyck dates back to the 6th century and refers to “Sheep Pasture”. There is a lot of references to the Herdwick breed throughout the years along with Beatrix Potter being so passionate of her Herdwick sheep that upon her death left the National Trust all her 4000 acres, 21 farms and it was stipulated that her Herdwick flock must remain on these farms. Her Legacy remains one of the largest and most significant bequests ever made.
The Herdwick is distinctive looking with its small white head and large heavy fleece of dense wool.
How many Herdwick sheep do you now have in your flock?
I have 6 shearling ewes and 1 shearling tup.
You have just bought a ram, what specific qualities were you looking for?
The boys OR Rams must be masculine in character. Broad and full. Horns smooth and round, rising out well from the back of the head. Their face, jaw and top of head must be covered with strong, bristly hair and free from wool.
Legs must be straight and clean with big knees. Bristly hair and free from wool again. And both face and legs must be clear “hoar-frosted” (White) in colour.
Their wool should be heavy and dense with and undercoat of fine wool which is even in colour. Good quality all over their body. A strong ruffle or mane around the neck and top of shoulders. And a good strong tail.
No spots, brown or yellow in any part.
Helena's Ram Tormund with a Herwick ewe.
This year will be your first year lambing, how excited do you feel?
Nervous and Excited! I’m use to calving, but sheep are smaller scale. But I can’t wait to grow my own flock. And the lambs are completely black when they are first born! They then change colour as they get older, so I’m interested to see that for myself.
Will you lamb them outside or inside?
Herdwicks have good mothering instinct and I have been given advice that they are very much the independent type, so they will be outside but if they need help they have a nice new “maternity” pen to come into.
Will you be selling your lambs on or retaining some for breeding stock?
The plan is to keep my ewe lambs for breeding stock and I’m not sure on the ram lambs. Depending on how many I get, to sell on as breeding tups or for meat (But that’s another plan of mine 😊)
Arya, one of Helena's ewes due to lamb in March.
Helena took her Herdwick's to a handful of local agricultural shows in 2018.
Last year was your first attempt at showing, how did you find it?
I did get very nervous as again I have shown cattle, but sheep is a different thing again. However, I have met some great friendly people along the way. And that is the main thing. To enjoy what you do.
What do you look for in a good Quality Herdwick sheep?
Strong body, clean legs and face. Females must not have horns and have that “feminine” look to them. Then the Tups being “manly” as I call it. Good even colour of wool.
What is your favourite thing about owning sheep?
With my herdy’s it’s got to be the face! They always look like they are smiling. So, no matter what time of the day or night. Whatever sort of day I’m having they always make me smile. And they all have names which I’m sure they know it! As they all seem to live up to their character.
Helena with one of her favourite ewe's Arya.
What advice would you give someone looking to get sheep?
Speak to other’s who have the same breed as you. As each breed is different. Some need more prep than others. Always contact your breed association, as they are very helpful in pointing you in the right direction. And you got to like being cold and wet! No matter what the weather or time of day. So long as you don’t mind getting your hands dirty then your fine!
A BIG thank you to Helena for taking the time to show me around her flock of Herdwick sheep. It was great to be back visiting a local farmer, I never get bored of hearing about peoples passions and stories. I am even more excited to go back and visit in March when Helena starts lambing!
Amie and Mike, founders of Ivy and Rig.
I recently discovered NEW sustainable lifestyle British clothing brand, Ivy and Rigg, on Instagram and I am very excited to become a brand ambassador for them. Ivy and Rigg has been created by Amie and Mike and is founded on their passion to bridge the gap between style and ethical, eco-friendly living. Their style is simple and stylish and definitely appeals to those wanting to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. I caught up with Amie and Mike to find out a little bit more about their story and the inspiration behind their new brand.
I am really excited to become a brand ambassador for Ivy and Rigg (as you can see from the smile on my face!)
What did you both do before starting up Ivy and Rigg?
We met whilst working as wildlife consultants in Northumberland National Park a few years ago. We both did environmental studies at University.
What inspired you to set up Ivy and Rigg, and when did the idea first come about?
We both have first-hand experience of working in conservation; Mike as a marine research diver in Asia and Amie in South Africa over a number of years. It was during this time that some of the most devastating environmental problems facing the world today including plastic pollution and wildlife poaching, were really brought home to us (Amie has actually hid from poachers in the bush!).
Earlier this year we decided we wanted to pursue a venture to promote and raise awareness of environmental problems. We decided on sustainable fashion, as this gave us not only the chance to tackle the issues raised above but to draw on our rural heritage in Northumberland as well.
Elida, one of my Highland's helping me to photograph my Ivy and Rigg t-shirt.
What is the story behind the name? (I LOVE it!)
We wanted something which combined our environmental and natural passions and interests with our Northumbrian heritage. Rigg was an easy one with Hadrian’s Wall Steel Rigg, the location of the famous Sycamore Gap, on our doorstop. When we researched Rigg further, it meant to clothe, which fitted perfectly. Ivy then stood out for us, meaning wonderfully classic, stylish and fearless, as well as being a natural evergreen plant. The On The Wall bit comes from Hadrian’s Wall, revered as a hardy, Northern frontier, it leaves a long-lasting impression. Both are of English origin and these meanings all represent the core principles we want to grow Ivy and Rigg around.
You are based near Hadrians Wall which has obviously inspired the 'Hadrian Wall' collection, will you continue to take inspiration for your designs from your surroundings?
Yes all our future collections will be inspired by Northumberland heritage and geography. There’s a lot to draw on and Mike is a history buff!
I am wearing a ladies organic slim fit t-shirt from their Hadrian Collection.
What is the main ethos behind your brand?
We keep it simple. Supreme quality, timeless style, classic designs and the utmost comfort, without sacrificing environmental integrity.
You donate a £1 from every item sold to Save the Rhino or Ocean Clean Up, how did you first get involved with these amazing conservation projects?
Our history meant these charities meant a lot to us. Every few months we will both choose a new charity or imitative to donate to.
Have you started to design your second collection yet, after the immediate success of your first collection?
Yes we have, and we have exciting new products lined up for the near future!
How would you like to see your brand develop over the next few years?
We hope to create an environmentally and socially conscious, go-to brand that is high quality and people are proud to wear. Raising awareness to protect wildlife and the environment will be at the centre of all of this.
I had great fun testing out Ivy and Rigg's ladies organic slim fit t-shirt from their Hadrian Collection, it is so soft and comfortable. It is a really simple, high quality product which as well as being stylish is perfect for practical everyday use which is great for farm life. A big thank you to Amie and Mike for taking the time to tell me a little more about their exciting new brand and I look forward to seeing the new designs and products. If you are interested in purchasing any Ivy and Rigg clothing, take a look at their website > www.ivyandrigg.com.
A BIG thank you to my sister Cecily for taking the time to help me AGAIN by taking the photos for this blog!
After my visit to Holly and her beautiful Percheron's, I returned to the studio with all the photographs I had taken. It was so interesting to see all the different aspects of preparing Mabel but I was actually rather nervous about creating a hand stamped print of a horse as this is the first time I have done one! There is so much detail and character in the face and head of a horse, it is really quite a challenge.
Holly turning Mabel out into her field, you can see how much character and personality Mabel has by just looking at these photographs.
The pencil sketch I drew of Mabel.
The hand stamped print I created of Mabel.
I am actually really pleased with the result of the hand stamped print, it has created a striking and eye catching design. The hand stamped, textured nature of the print has really complimented the dappling of labels coat. I also really love the colour braids which Holly plaited into Mabel, the contrast is really bold and effective.
Another BIG thank you to Holly and Mabel for spending the afternoon with me. I look forward to following their progress on the show scene next year!
Last weekend I went to visit 18 year old, Holly with her Percheron heavy horses. As well as the Percheron's, Holly's family farm rears cattle, sheep and the odd chicken wandering around the yard! I was really looking forward to this blog as I haven't done any horses yet and I especially love heavy horses. When I am at agricultural shows, however busy I may get I always make sure I go and look at the heavy horses. They are so majestic and impressive with their sheer size and presence. I was in absolute awe of Holly from the plaiting and braiding of Mable's tail and mane to the way she handled her with such ease.
Holly with her 4 year old Percheron mare, Mabel.
How long have you had Percheron horses and how did you become interested in them?
I have had Percherons for 3 years now and first became interested in the breed when my mother, Sharon, bought our first horse.
What made you choose the Percheron over other heavy horses?
Firstly the Percheron is clean legged, meaning they have not got feathered feet (hair on their legs) and although Suffolk is our home county the beautiful dappled markings of the Percheron caught my eye.
Holly with her two yearling Percherons, Bonnie and Lass.
Where do they originate and what is their history?
The Percheron is a breed of draft horse that originated in the Huisne river valley in France which is part of the Perche province and where the breed takes its name. They are usually grey or black in colour. Percherons are well muscled, and known for their intelligence and willingness to work.
How many Percherons do you have?
We have three Percherons in total, a 4 year old mare and 2 yearling fillies.
Mabel enjoying a scratch.
What do you do with your Percherons?
The Percherons are shown at both smaller fairs and county shows but more recently the oldest mare Mable we have began breaking to ride and drive, beging with leading her around in our village to get her used to different sights and sounds, then long reining her and from there pulling a tyre.
Do you hope to breed Percherons in the future?
Yes… However at the minute breaking in the eldest mare and with training the two yearling taking up a lot of time 3 is just enough!
You show your horses, why is this important to you?
Having spent many years showing the familys Pedigree Simmental cattle and my own Southdown and Beltex sheep, the show ring is a familiar sight. It just seemed natural to show the horses. Learning how to show them, plait and braid had been very challenging but with a few championship’s under my belt its all been worth it.
Over the last three years Holly has learnt how to plait and braid for the show ring.
Mabel waiting patiently while she is plaited up.
What do you look for in a ‘good quality’ Percheron?
Being a heavy horse, they are built for working, so good legs and movement are essential when carrying or pulling heavy loads. The horse must be something you enjoy looking at in the field so for me the most important part is the head, with females a fine feminine head is an essential. Along with this the horse needs a good body and to be broad throughout. But like every breed and species each person’s opinion is different.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into heavy horses?
Working with heavy horses is a dying art and without new people owning and working them the breeds will soon die out, everyone in the societies are so helpful and encouraging and will do anything to help! Heavy horses isn’t all about expensive carts like you see at the shows… you can have just as much enjoyment out of riding, showing or breeding them.
I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Holly for taking the time to introduce me to her stunning Percheron horses and for showing me round her family farm. As well as meeting the horses I got to meet the sheep, chickens and cows, including Molly the Jersey calf, who was Holly's 18th birthday present! I had such a great afternoon watching Holly work with Mabel and seeing the bond between them, it was so impressive to see Holly work alongside these gentle giants. I am looking forward to getting back to the studio to draw Mabel, I am a little nervous though!
Working on a farm does mean you get through ALOT of footwear, I am always looking for something to last a decent amount of time. I was so excited when I recently discovered Gumleaf, a wellington boot company based in Norfolk! Can you believe it! It got even better when I realised Gumleaf are a farm diversification business situated on a family farm in North Walsham.
I met up with the founder of Gumleaf, Norfolk farmer Alistair to find out a little bit more about the business. Alistair has developed the Gumleaf brand over the last 16 years creating a smart wellington boot with an emphasis on comfort for the day in and day out routine of farm life. They are created using neoprene, supple natural rubber and air pockets in the sole unit to provide the greatest level of comfort.
Just testing the wellies out in the beck with a little assistance from Nell.
Gum leaf's range of wellington boots cater for all areas of country pursuits and work. The Saxon, which is the boot Alistair has kindly given me to wear on the farm, is a standard neoprene boot for warmth. I have been using the Saxon wellington boot on the farm for the last week and they are so comfortable with the Vibram soles which is really important for me especially with the amount of walking I do here on the farm. They are really warm and fit well on my feet and legs which is really important when you are climbing in and out of ditches searching for Highland cattle. After last years harsh Winter, warmth is also at the top of my priority list so I am looking forward to using them this Winter. Its difficult working outside when your toes are frozen!
Braveheart giving the Gumleaf wellies a quick inspection!
If you would like to find out more about Gumleaf and their story or purchase a pair of their fantastic wellingtons then head over to their website >>> www.gumleaf.com or follow them on instagram @gumleafboots.
A BIG thank you to my sister Cecily for taking the photos for this blog.
I am Izzi, farmer’s daughter and textile designer at IzziRainey. If I am not designing or sewing you will find me out in the farmyard with my cattle. I am constantly seeking inspiration for my prints, not that I have to look very far. Growing up on the farm, I have always been influenced by my surroundings and this combined with my passion for farming is what inspires my designs. I love spending time on the farm but I also enjoy learning about other people’s animals, passions and stories, which are also influential to my design process. I hope you enjoy reading ‘Over the Farm Gate’