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.
After visiting Phoebe at her family farm in Eye and meeting her flock of Norfolk horn sheep I came back to the studio to have a look through all the photographs which I had taken. There were a lot of photos! I had enjoyed spending my afternoon with the Norfolk Horn sheep so much, I had really been looking forward to it. They are a breed with such distinctive characteristics which I was really looking forward to drawing,
A bit of a stare off between a Norfolk Horn ewe and Nellie the sheepdog.
Phoebe's sheepdog Nellie.
This is a pencil sketch that I did from one of the photographs I took of Phoebe's Norfolk Horn ewes, I was really pleased with how distinctive it looks. The dark face contrasting with the staturesque horns.
This is the final print which I have created from my pencil sketch, I have taken all the basic shapes out of my drawing and then worked back into the print to get the detail and features of the ewe.
I would like to say another BIG thank you to Phoebe and her family for taking the time to show me around their farm. I had a brilliant time and if you would like to see more about Phoebe's family business 'Woolly Comforts' creating beautiful lambskins from their flock of sheep then please take a look at their website >>> www.woollycomforts.co.uk.
If you would like to find out more about Norfolk Horn sheep the Rare Breeds Survival Trust have lots of information on their website >>> www.rbst.org.uk.
Last weekend I went to visit 16 year old shepherdess, Phoebe with her flock of Norfolk Horns. I was very excited to travel to Eye in Suffolk to meet Phoebe's sheep as I have wanted to draw Norfolk Horns for a while now. They are so majestic and striking with there dark faces and handsome horns. It is also really important to raise awareness of the Norfolk Horn as they are also a rare breed on the Rare Breed Survival Trusts minority list.
How long have you been interested in sheep and how did you become so involved with them?
I have been interested and involved with sheep from an early age, having grown up on a farm and working alongside Mum and Dad.
What made you choose the Norfolk Horn?
They are practical but a different and characterisitc breed, with their horns making them look nice.
How many Norfolk Horns do you have now in your flock?
I now have 17 ewes, all to lamb this coming season.
Phoebe's 17 ewes enjoying the summer grass.
What is the temperament of Norfolk Horns? Are they easy to handle with their horns?
They can be quite naturally unsettled if they are not looked over regularly enough, but once they know you they are calmer and easier to work with.
Phoebe regularly handles her Norfolk Horns, checking teeth, feet and ear tags. This also means the ewes are used to being handled.
How many lambs have you had this year?
This year, I had 12 lambs for the 7 ewes that lambed.
What do you plan to do with this years lambs?
As this years lambs were Norfolk Horn x Charollais hopefully they will all be sold as freezer lambs in about two months time.
2018 lambs - Norfolk Horn x Charollais.
What are you looking for in a 'good' Norfolk Horn?
I always look for nicely shaped horns personally, but they should have a good conformation all round too.
Do you have Norfolk Horn Sheepskins made?
Yes, we have them back from the lambs.
Phoebe's family run a business called 'Woolly Comforts' creating beautiful lambskins from their own flock of sheep reared in the Suffolk Countryside.
One of 'Woolly Comforts' lambskins on my sofa at home!
Do the Norfolk Horns make a good sheepskin?
Their sheepskins are very similar to the Suffolks and the Charollais sheepskins, being thick and varying colours from cream to more speckled and some darker brown, but they are slightly smoother usually.
Phoebe with one of her favourite Norfolk Horn ewes.
What is your favourite thing about owning sheep?
The satisfaction and pride at lambing time, especially seeing new borns.
What advice would you give someone looking to get sheep?
Choose a practice and relatively calm breed, to make handling them easier.
I would like to say a big thank you to Phoebe for taking the time to show me around her farm and introduce me to her flock of sheep. It is always so inspiring to meet someone so young with so much passion and knowledge for farming. Take a look at 'Woolly Comforts' website to see what a great farm diversification business they have created as a family >>> www.woollycomforts.co.uk.
If you would like to find out more about Norfolk Horn sheep the Rare Breeds Survival Trust have lots of information on their website >>> www.rbst.org.uk.
I had a great time meeting Zoe's herd of dairy goats, I was really looking forward to getting back to the studio and looking through the photographs I had taken. The British Alpine and British Toggenburg's are really striking with their facial markings and I know will look great in a print. I have drawn Zoe's British Alpine's before and I know that their monochrome colouring works really well in a print, The logo that I created for Zoe is of one of British Alpine's and it is really eye catching!
The logo I have recently designed for Zoe, featuring one of her British Alpine's.
Pencil sketch of a British Alpine doe.
Pencil sketches of British Toggenburg doe and kid.
The final print of the British Alpine doe created with hand stamps.
The final print of the British Toggenburg doe.
I am really pleased with how the final prints turned out, I think they are really bold and eye catching. It won't be long until I will be ready to complete a second 'Over The Farm Gate' card collection and I think these will look great on greetings cards.
I would like to say another BIG thank you to Zoe for taking the time to introduce me to her goats.
This week I popped over to see local goat breeder, Zoe. I have known Zoe for quite a few years now and we actually first met doing local craft and gift fairs together. Zoe keeps a small herd of dairy goats which as well as showing at local agricultural shows, also runs 'Moorend Moisturisers'. Using her own herd's goats milk, Zoe, produces luxurious hand creams, body moisturisers and soaps. It is wonderful to meet a small holder who is so passionate about her stock and turning her passion into a kitchen table business, producing a quality product which is in high demand. I spent the afternoon with Zoe learning more about her goats and the benefits of goats milk for our skin.
How long have you had goats and how did you become interested in them?
I have kept goats here in Stibbard since 2003 but we had nanny goats at home on the farm,( they lived with the chickens and pigs) when I was growing up.
What breeds do you have?
British Alpine, British Toggenburg and Saanen
Zoe with a British Alpine doe. Zoe with a British Toggenburg doe.
A couple of this year's Saanen kids.
You have dairy goats, how often do they need to be milked?
My dairy goats are milked twice a day, every 12 hours.
How many goats do you have?
At the moment I have 7 nannies.
How many kids have you had this year?
This year I had 10 kids.
A couple of the British Toggenburg kids enjoying their day with the Sheep and Chickens.
How many kids does a doe have in their lifetime?
I usually breed my does bi annually and normally they will have 1-2 kids. 3-4 kiddings is enough for any doe.
How long do you keep the kids with their mother’s?
No longer than 1 month as the mother needs to get back into condition before the start of the showing season. The kids are bottle fed for up to 4 months.
What do you plan to do with this years kids, do you plan to sell them on to other breeders or retain them for your own breeding stock?
I have already sold some of the females, I’m keeping 1 british toggenburg kid as her mother is related to several breed champions. The males may be sold as wethers (castrated) for pets or butchered at 6 months.
A very inquisitive kid.
You run ‘Moorend Moisturisers’ making hand creams, lip balms and soap from your goats milk, how did you first start this?
It all began in 2014 when I was given a voucher to go on a potions course as a birthday present. Luckily the tutor was a qualified chemist and I asked her about how one could make cosmetics from goats milk. She gave me lots of advise to help me devise my own recipes.
What are the positives about using your goats milk products on our skin?
The naturally occurring lactic acid in goat’s milk acts as a gentle exfoliant, resorting and rejuvenating tired skin by removing the dead and dry skin cells. This is ideal for sensitive, dry or chapped hands.
Moorend Moisturisers NEW logo which I designed recently for Zoe.
Moorend Moisturisers, Zoe makes hand creams, moisturisers and soaps from her goats milk.
Zoe selling her products at a local craft fair.
What is your favourite thing about owning goats?
Goats are very intelligent and inquisitive, so great fun to have around although you never know quite what they will do next.
What advice would you give someone looking to get goats?
Contact a local goat club for advise to buy from a reputable breeder.
I would like to say a big thank you to Zoe for taking the time to introduce me to her herd of goats and for telling me more about her business and where it all begin. Keep a look out for Zoe and 'Moorend Moisturisers' at local craft fairs in Norfolk.
Tom with one of his Light Sussex Hens.
Last week I was really excited to welcome local photographer, Tom on to the farm. Tom takes the most amazing photographs, documenting country life, wildlife, his chickens and his garden. Tom publishes his work on his beautifully curated Instagram 'Gnowangerup Cottage'. I am so in awe of Tom's photographs that I got in touch with him to see if he would like to take pictures of Highland Cattle! Amazingly he said yes and I can't believe how perfectly he captured the cattle and the chickens here on my family farm! I also took the opportunity to have a quick chat with Tom and find out more about the inspiration behind his work.
Where did your idea for starting your blog and instagram‘Gnowangerup Cottage’ first come from?
I was encouraged to start an Instagram account by a friend who thought I should document the 'good life' that I was living with the vegetable garden, foraging and living in a cottage with only wood burners for heat! It has slowly turned into more of a wildlife account, but still has links to gardening and country life every now and again.
How long have you been interested in photography?
Not that long really! It kind of developed alongside my Instagram account. Once my account focused more on wildlife I was inspired by other great accounts to get better equipment. I still have a wish list as long as my arm of equipment so hopefully my photography will keep on improving.
What is your main source of inspiration?
This is a difficult question, I guess I am inspired by the great nature accounts on Instagram who have raised the bar high in tea of nature photography. Also I really feel inspired by the great BBC nature documentaries like Planet Earth and Blue Planet whose filming is absolutely stunning.
You have to be one of the most patient people EVER to have captured some of your wildlife photographs! How do you do it?
Some of my photographs have been luck, and I’ve come across them when walking along or almost straight away so no patience has been needed! When I have had to wait, I often use my phone to pass the time or I visualise where a bird might land so I am ready to take the picture quickly. I also find it a good time to zone out and reflect or to work out my problems.
You are used to being surrounded by chickens as you have your own… but how was working with and photographing Highland cattle?
What can I say?! Highlands and their calves are particularly photogenic, so in that sense they are a breeze to photograph! I have had exposure to Highlands before through the farm attached to my work and always found them good natured, but even still there was a moment when they started running I felt very small, and another where I found myself face to face with a bull!
Do you have a favourite image that you have taken since starting Gnowangerup Cottage?
Following advice from big Instagram accounts, I have been trying to post only my best pictures and not clutter up my grid with ‘fillers’. This means that I really like all the pictures I post, but saying this my current favourite is of the three fox cubs I stumbled across on the old railway line, more of which is on my blog.
One of Tom's favourite photographs he has captured.
Is there somewhere in the world you would most like to visit to capture a specific image?
I have a wish list of places to visit with my camera, for both scenery and wildlife. In terms of scenery I really want to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights and the Faroe Islands to photograph the Drangarnir sea stacks. I would also love to visit the Norwegian Lofoten Islands.
In terms of wildlife I really want to visit the Farne Islands to get an image of a Puffin with sand eels in its beak, and to head to Finland to get a Great Grey Owl in the snow.
I would like to say a BIG thank you to Tom for visiting my farm and capturing and depicting rural life and the inspirations behind my designs. If you would like to see more of Tom's work follow him on Instagram and take a look at his blog!
Instagram - @gnowangerup_cottage
Blog - https://gnowangerupcottage.wordpress.com
After my visit to Spilsby to meet Edward and his Holegate Lincoln Reds, I came back to the studio with all the photographs that I had taken. The Lincoln Reds looked so striking with the green of the fields and the blue skies. They have very soft, kind temperaments which I think you can see by just looking at them, so I was really hoping I could portray these characteristics through my prints.
Edward with his Lincoln Red and Limousin show heifers.
Pencil sketches of a Lincoln Red heifer and bull.
Yearling heifers grazing in the meadows.
Hand stamped prints created from my pencil sketches.
It was quite difficult to create prints of the Lincoln Reds purely because of their colour, the deep red, it is difficult to show detail in darker colours. I found it difficult to distinguish their features within the print, however I do feel they have turned out better than I expected!
Another BIG thank you to Edward for showing me around his family farm and giving me the chance to meet his herd of cattle. If you would like the chance to find out more about Edward's herd 'Holegate Lincoln Reds and Limousins' you can follow updates on Facebook.
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’