Farm life in rural Pembrokeshire

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In the first half of June, we house sat a farm in Wales. This meant driving all the way from the Scottish Highlands, to about half an hour away from Haverfordwest in South Wales. It was a bit of a journey, but we managed it (over two days of driving). We have done a decent amount of driving to and fro in our travels, and I have to say, that Elena and Kilian are pretty great travellers. We generally manage to get a lot of miles under our belt before they (and we) start to fray.

We were kindly invited to stay the night before with our hosts, Bryan, Chris and Jonathan, who we had found out previously were Christians. What we didn’t realise straight away, was that they were Jewish Christians. Pete figured this out way quicker than me. I spent the evening vaguely confused at certain references to the star of David and wondering why they had a bottle of anointing oil on the mantlepiece… We enjoyed an afternoon exploring the farm and learning our duties.

I don’t think I was quite prepared for how many animals there were at this house. When I anticipated the house sit, I knew they had a bunch of cats, and maybe one dog, and a cow? Can you tell that Pete organises all the house sits?

This is the overview of the animals:

  • 2 dogs
  • 7 cats
  • 3 cows
  • 8 sheep
  • 15 or so birds
  • 5 hens
  • 1 rooster, 2 geese, 1 guinea fowl, and one super weird looking ugly fellow who I will never know what he was…
  • fish in a tank, fish in a pond

We were a bit daunted when we arrived, and Chris explained the jobs to us. Mostly it was pretty straightforward, like feeding them and keeping the areas clean, but when she started talking about the 20 year old cow possibly dropping dead, and checking the sheep for wounds or itchy bites, we felt a little out of our depth! We were also struggling to keep track of all the cats, remembering their names, and figuring out which ones were allowed outside, which ones should certainly not be let outside, and who would do as they pleased (that turned out to be all of them). We did manage it, if you were wondering. No cat was lost for too long….

We managed to get into a good routine at the farm. Kilian and I would do the morning jobs, checking the stock, feeding the cats, dogs and fish, cleaning out the poultry shed and collecting the eggs – goose eggs! Pete would do the afternoon jobs, which was putting the poultry in for the night, feeding the stock and poultry, and watering the garden. Pete had a great farming experience one day, when we realised some of the sheep had gotten out of their field and into the other sheep field. He enlisted the border collie named Darling, and herded those sheep up.

The jobs would take us each about 45 minutes, so we did manage to get in a bit of sightseeing and activities while we were there. It rained the whole first week, so we filled our time with indoor activities. Elena loved rounding up the cats and carrying them around the house. She was so excited at the idea of having the cats sleep in her bed with her (which we might have allowed, if not for fear of one of the cats cosying up to Kilian and accidentally suffocating him). We visited soft play centres more than once, and enjoyed a great museum at the nearby town of Narberth.

We visited the exciting Folly Farm – a bit of a mix between a zoo and a fairground. It was a fun day, packed with plenty of animals from all around the world. We had lots of fun in the barn, where we patted lots of different farm animals including miniature donkeys and pigs, and the indoor play area was a huge hit as well. There where also some huge pirate playgrounds which were cool.

When the weather fined up, we spent an excellent day exploring Hilton Court Gardens, a really beautiful place to run around. We loved the series of cubby houses hidden in the woods and dreamed about when we return to our own house and build one ourselves.

Our second week spent in South Wales was filled with beaches. It was the start of Summer, relatively warm, and after a long British winter we were ready to soak up some sun. We started our beach safari at Amroth, a beautiful long beach, partially pebbled and filled with puddles to play in and rocks to throw. We are often amazed at the tides here in the UK – they often have five metre tides, which means that the beach stretches both wide and long.

One day we left bright and early, hoping to catch a boat to Skomer island just off the south-west coast of Wales, filled with Puffins and other animals. We arrived a couple of hours before the first boat left, only to find that this trip was much more popular than we had anticipated. We were disappointed to miss out on seeing Puffins, but we were well rewarded with a stunning walk around the headland, and a visit to Marloes Sands, a truly incredible beach filled with huge boulders, sparkling ocean and a huge amount of soft sand to dig up and build with. Pete also got to fly his new drone, in a pretty awesome location.

We really enjoyed visiting the town of Tenby, a medieval walled town with a stunning beach and headland, with a nearby island that is only accessible when the tide goes out. We had proper British fish and chips for lunch, with mushy peas, and were treated by a lovely Welsh couple who were sitting near us – they admired Kilian’s crawling (a new skill!), and Elena’s conversation so much that they gave us a fiver to get ice creams with later! Having children does pay off sometimes..

On our last day in Pembrokeshire we went to the beach at Barafundle Bay, which was packed but incredibly lovely. It was fun running around on the sand and dipping our feet in the water, although the water was not quite warm enough for us to swim in. We finished off our day with a picnic dinner at Pembroke Castle, where they were holding a fete to raise money for the town walls. This was a really fun way to visit the castle, and we loved exploring in the early evening, looking for dragons and running around the huge map in the middle of the grounds – the largest painting in Britain, depicting Welsh medieval history.

We had a great time in Wales, and definitely enjoyed the farming experience. I’m not sure I could ever live with so many cats, but I have to admit, that I don’t mind them. At least they leave you alone – I had one of the dogs, Spot, follow me around constantly, even to the bathroom. It was a relief to leave the responsibility behind us, and we were very excited to be returning to Teen Ranch to see all our new friends!

 

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