When John Henderson rang and asked me if I might be interested in writing this column I jumped at the chance. I thought as we have quite a few different things going on here there would be loads to write about. Now I’m sitting here with a deadline looming and I’ve gone blank!
By way of introduction, we came to live here at Blubberhouses 28 years ago when we got married. We took the tenancy of this holding from Yorkshire Water. It was quite run down and it has been a labour of love to pull it back into shape.
We put the farm into a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme seven years ago and over that time we have been restoring some of the 10 miles of dry stone wall on the farm and our circa 1780 barns have been renovated. We have also fenced woodland to naturalise it, planted wild flower meadows and introduced native breed cattle, our Belted Galloways. We also host educational access visits which are very interesting, but I’ll tell you more about them next time.
On the farm we have a flock of pure Swaledale sheep, some of which we cross with the Blue Faced Leicester, and we also have Mules which we cross with Texel or Beltex and a small flock of Blue Faced Leicesters and Herdwicks. We keep our Mule and Texel gimmer lambs and the strongest we put to the Beltex to lamb as hoggs.
Despite the cold spring, the early Texel lambs have done well this year, with the first draw going on May Bank Holiday. They weighed well at 41 kilos but a disappointing trade as they were £21 a head down on the same time last year.
About 25 years ago we diversified into B&B and we have three rooms. It was quite a baptism of fire the day our first guests pulled into the yard, but time goes on and it has been a very interesting journey. We have met people from all over the world and made a lot of great friends. Probably the most diverse guest so far was a Mongolian horse farmer. He had not a tooth in his head - I know because he kept grinning at me - and couldn’t speak a word of English. Luckily his daughter and English son-in-law were with him, otherwise I don’t know how I would have coped!
Christine Ryder and her husband Chris farm 242ha (600 acres) at Blubberhouses, in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.They are tenants on their 182ha (450 acre) home farm, and run a farmhouse B&B. Stock on the hill farm, which is in Higher Level Stewardship, includes Swaledale, Mule and Bluefaced Leicester flocks, as well as producing Texel gimmers which are crossed with Beltex tups, and a herd of Belted Galloways. The farm also hosts educational access visits.