Udderly Good News from St. Martin’s

Scilly Isles Calves

Apologies for the headline, but we need to make an announcement … please welcome our newest arrivals at Churchtown Farm! The exotically named calves, Dave, Heather and Johnny, are the latest addition to our growing Red Ruby herd of ten. In keeping with tradition, the gang have been named by Rosie and Piran, with some help from Ben (Ben came up with Dave). The name Heather was inspired by the heather on the island and Johnny is of course(!), named after Johnny English, following Rowan Atkinson’s inspirational Olympics opening ceremony appearance last Friday. This also prompted Piran to watch all of his Rowan Atkinson DVDs again! All 3 gorgeous calves were born on the farm over the past 3 weeks and are coming along nicely as you can see in the photo above.

Red Ruby Cows in the Scilly Isles

Back in August 2010, you might remember we took delivery of our original four blithe bovines, who came to us from a couple of locations – two from other islands within the Isles of Scilly and the other two across from a farm in Cornwall. For the past few years we have been working very closely with the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust (IoSWT) as part of the Higher Level Stewardship scheme,  to ensure that our Red Ruby cattle help to look after our precious Scilly landscape and increase biodiversity on the Island.

We believe strongly in responsible farming and our cows are helping us do that by increasing the quality of our soil. After our flower bulbs have been in the ground for 4 years then we plant grass and/or fodder turnips for the next 4 years which the Red Rubys love. Of course what goes in must come out and all that cow poo is great for the soil.

Not only do our cows do an important job on our fields, they also work for the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, grazing the more wild parts of the islands helping to keep gorse, bracken and brambles in check.  If these plants were allowed to just grow they would eventually dominate the landscape making it difficult for lots of other plants to grow, obscuring the beautiful Scilly view and preventing people from being able to roam and enjoy large areas of the island.

Red Ruby Cows on St Martins

So, the long and the short of it is that we love our clever cows for their sweet natures, as well as their ability to keep the Scilly Isles fertile and looking beautiful. They contribute greatly to the maintenance of the key economic facets of island life, namely tourism and farming and as such, they are as much a part of St. Martin’s as we are.

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2 thoughts on “Udderly Good News from St. Martin’s

  1. I was most interested and delighted to read of your expanding herd of Ruby Reds. I saw these most beautiful animals for the first time in September 2012 when I was walking on Tresco but sadly I did not see your animals when I visited St Martins in September this year.

    I shall be returning to St Marys at the end of April/early May 2013 and would very much welcome the opportunity to meet you, your staff and the herd, learn more about your horticultural business and see at first hand the various practises and processes involved.

    I thought it might be helpful if I told you a little about some of my horticultural activities so you can see I am a serious horticulturist and not a casual gardener.

    Until 2005 I was the NCCPG National Collection Holder of Hippeastrum undertaking research into the breeding and cultivation of the plant; liaising with breeders, growers and exporters worldwide; giving talks, lectures and workshops to professional and amateur breeders and growers; growing several thousand bulbs during a six year peroid in my small flat in South Harrow, Middlesex. I was Hippeastrum Consultant to Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Hippeastrum Adviser to Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley and mounted national biannual festivals and celebrations in my flat where I launched the very latest hybrids, previously unseen. In November 1999 I won the RHS Gold medal for my display of South African bred Hippeastrum hybrids at the RHS London Westminster Show. In 2001 Timber Press commissioned me to write the first text on the plant which was published in 2004: Hippeastrum – the gardeners amaryllis. It is part of the RHS Growers Guide series.

    To this day, I maintain contact with a Dutch and Australian breeder and cultivate a small number of new hybrids raised by Marko Penning, a leading Dutch Hippeastrum and Freesia breeder (Penning Freesia BV, Honselersdijk).

    Major health and financial problems made it impossible for me to continue being the National Collection Holder and in November 2007 I moved from South Harrow, Middlesex to Cornwall I now reside in a small cottage in Tregony on the Roseland Peninsula.

    I have always had a fascination for bulbs of all types and throughout my life have cultivated many different spring, summer and autumn flowering bulbs. I am currently focusing on mounting displays of pure white ‘Carnegie’ hyacinths; miniature scented daffodils: ‘Hawera’, ‘Niveth’ and ‘Petrel’ and a range of large single, tall stemmed tulips in my front and back gardens. My latest horticultural research project concerns species and species hybrid pelargoniums and I am establishing a comprehensive collection of this genus.

    For the first time since 1996, I was well enough to have a holiday and so visited St Martins for the first time in April followed by my second visit in September 2012. I plan to return to the Scillys twice a year and spend the majority of my time exploring St Martins. I have purchased narcissus from you on several occasions and in September 2012 popped by to Churchtown Farm where I was most interested to read about your techniques for getting the narcissus to grow and flower for such a long period. Sadly, I was not able to meet you or any of your staff or cattle or observe at first hand any horticultural processes.

    I would very much like to meet you and the team when I return next April and for you to show me the farm and see at first hand the the various practices and processes involved. Would this be at all possible?

    In the meantime, I wish you all the very best and look forward to reading more of your activities in future blogs – I find them most interesting and informative.

    Kind regards

    Veronica M Read

    • Thank you for your kind comments Veronica. When you next plan a trip to St Martin’s make sure you contact us in advance. Hope you like our next post it is all about how we grown the scented narcissi. – Best wishes Zoe Julian

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