Neil's parents bought Fullards Farm in the 1950's when they ran a mixed arable and pig unit. The farm now extends to 325 acres, the majority being arable land growing wheat, barley and oil seed rape with the exception of the grass field opposite the house and a small paddock along South Street. The land is a loamy clay and is good strong combineable crop land.
In 2012 we bought some Kerry Hill ewes which now reside in the grassfield. Kerry Hills are a striking looking sheep with Panda type markings, who have until very recently been on the rare breeds list. They originate from the hills around the small town of Kerry on the English/Welsh borders and are a bold and strong sheep. Our ewes lambed in the snow and ice of March/April 2013 but enjoyed better weather for lambing in 2014 and 2015, they are great mothers. The 2015 crop comprised 6 healthy Kerry Hill lambs. Annabel's previous lambing experiences of large flocks in Shropshire is called into play for lambing and for the other sheep management issues such as feet trimming, spraying and worming. In May 2013 she attended a British Wool Marketing Board shearing course and as a result now shears our ewes as well as a small neighbouring flock.
The old machinery paddock has been brought back into play for the "pig project", three weaners were grown on for our freezer in 2011. With good local demand from friends we produced four in 2012 with people having halves or quarters depending upon their freezer space. The wet summer of 2012 made for some very good wallows, there are some photos of the pigs enjoying these on our July 2012 blog. We had another three pigs in 2013 who enjoyed the warm summer and plenty of windfall apples and a courgette and bean surplus from our and our neighbour Ron's gardens. We turned some of the 2013 pigs into bacon and produced some Fullards Farm "breakfast boxes" with a combination of bacon, sausages and some of our homemade marmalade. We produced three pigs over the summer of 2015, they finished really well and their pork has been in high demand whether as joints, gammon or bacon and sausages. We hold pop up shops at the beginning of December each year when we sell joints of home grown pork and lamb, sausages, bacon, our jams and chutneys and Christmas puddings
In 2004 and 2005 the ancient ridge and furrow grass meadow opposite the house was the focus of a conservation plan that included the planting of 600 metres of new mixed native species hedgerow, stockfencing and reintroduction of stock grazing, the opening out of one pond, dredging of a second and creation of a third and the sowing of a native wildflower mix alongside the public footpath. The immediate wildlife benefits of this project included an increase in the numbers of voles, field mice, frogs, newts, swallows and the hunting of the field by a pair of barn owls. In December 2009 the first section of the newly planted hedge was laid and we are delighted with the results, further sections have been completed each year and we plan on doing more over the next few years as the plantings reach an appropriate height.
The EU Common Agricultural Policy sets environmental criteria by way of “Environmental Focus Areas” that apply to arable farms. We have met our EFA target by incorporating areas of undisturbed field margins, environmental field corners (pollen and nectar rich planting) as well as leaving some areas fallow. In addition there are further areas of game cover crops which provide food and shelter both for the game birds and other farmland birds.
We have put up a large number of bird boxes, including tree sparrow boxes - this red list species is doing quite well in Woodhurst with up to 70 being seen in the locality at one time, some of these are known to be using our bird boxes. Barn Owl and Little Owl boxes have also been put up around the farm, a licensed owl specialist confirmed in April 2011 that a Barn Owl pair was using one of the boxes that we put up in 2010 and there were a number of chick raised in them in 2015. A Little Owl box was used in 2012 with two chicks being weighed, measured and ringed in June 2012.
In 2007 we commissioned a farm wide bird survey and a survey of the flora in the grassfield. The bird survey noted 46 species, which is above average for the East of England, this does not include the local owl population (Barn Owl, Little Owl and Tawny) as they were not out and about during the dawn survey periods. Wild mammals frequently observed include Muntjac deer, Roe deer, foxes and stoats.
Neil and his brother, Paul, have established a tradition of planting trees around the farm on Boxing Day. In 2008 fifty trees were planted around an old pond just off the bridleway running up to the Wyton Airfield. Around forty trees were planted on Boxing Day 2009; frozen ground conditions over Christmas 2010 delayed planting until the new year when a further fifty trees were put in. The wet weather of 2012 and 2013 meant that attention was turned to cutting drainage channels and putting in fence posts but tree and hedge planting took place again after Christmas in 2015.