A short blogpost written by recent guest Sue Rickard
Staying at Denmark Farm is to be immersed in nature. We were there in May when everywhere was full of spring flowers and the new leaves on the beech trees were soft and silky, creating great canopies of greenness that one could stare into, dreaming of a green heaven.
Mara, who manages some aspects of the farm, and who gave us a friendly greeting when we arrived, showed us to our eco-lodge and provided all the information that we needed to enjoy a very comfortable stay.
Our lodge was called ‘Owls Roost’, which was wonderfully apt, for we had a female Tawny Owl roosting on the beam outside our kitchen window. I went looking for her nest, which I knew was only a little way into the nearby woods, and saw a baby owl perched on a branch, looking down on me so solemnly, but without a trace of fear. When I turned back there was a clatter of wings and the mother flew up onto a higher branch. She had returned silently and had been just behind me – watching carefully, no doubt. On the way back a Barn Owl swooped out of a high crevice in the bunkhouse, where she too had a nest. It was an evening of owls, for sure.
I saw many different birds: Nuthatches, Blue Tits and Great Tits came to the feeder close to our lodge and Pied Wagtails – Fred Astaire smart in their black and white feathery attire – were all around. There are also Hares, Foxes, Otters and Badgers. One feels that wildlife is everywhere even when you can’t actually see it.
As well as being a lovely environment to explore on one’s own, Denmark Farm provides opportunities to learn new skills. COVID put a temporary stop to courses and events, but they have started again now. My partner and I will definitely go back for the chance to enjoy one or two of them. I rather wish I was young enough to join in with the ‘Re-wild Your Dad’ event where fathers and children under sixteen can learn bushcraft together, but these days the Midsummer Mandala Retreat might be more appropriate for me – but there’s lots to choose from.
The site was once a conventional farm, but farming practices such as tilling broke up the soil, and heavy use of pesticides destroyed much of its natural structure killing many of the vital bacteria and fungi that live there. Trees and hedges, so vital for nesting birds, were cut down and so the whole site became barren. But just by planting a wind-break of trees around the edge of the property and allowing nature the time to recover, the new owners (The Shared Earth Trust) witnessed the land coming back to life with plants, trees and a huge variety of British wildlife. Now there are not only birds and mammals, but also many amphibians and a great diversity of insects, including those found around wetlands. All are now thriving here.
To visit Denmark Farm and know what a recovery has taken place does gladden the heart and provide much needed hope for the future.
Thank you so much Sue, for choosing to stay with us at Denmark Farm and also for writing so beautifully about your adventures. We hope that you are able to come back and visit again soon and maybe attend one of our special events whilst you are here.