Here at Pathhead we have always focused on futureproofing the farm. We aim to run the farm to be as organic and sustainable as possible. We don’t use pesticides, (and herbicides only to a bare minimum), and we try to keep some areas of the farm as wild as possible. We have large areas of wildflower meadows, as well as interspersed hedgerows and native broadleaf trees. There is plenty of space for hedgehogs and other beasties to wander around where they are safe from horses and cars. We are very proud of our grasslands and meadows here at Pathhead and have been maintaining this environment for nearly 20 years.
We monitor our fields very carefully throughout the grass-growing season so that we can manage our horses' grass intake. Believe it or not, too much grass can not only make your cuddy fat but it can also cause various other health problems, most notably laminitis (a very painful hoof condition). So, as you can see, it is important that we limit the amount of grass in the fields to match the numbers of horses grazing. We are also planning on planting new areas with trees and hedges for longer term winter wind and weather protection and for enhancing the wildlife habitat around the farm. As work starts we'll keep you posted on progress.
10 years ago, we fitted 40 solar panels on the roof of the indoor riding school. The energy generated by them powers much of our operations on the farm. We are hoping to expand on this as time and money allows. My next car is going to be electric and my much-loved, but gas-guzzling Range Rover is going to be heading to petrol-head heaven. It's my dream to run my next car from the sunlight that our solar panels pick up and to have a means to store the electricity generated. This is currently still only a dream - but one day.....
We have also just installed a borehole which, we hope, will pump water all around the farm. This water has been tested and found to be of excellent purity. After drilling down 83 metres into the Devonian aquifer we must assume that what's coming out of there is pretty much the same as our very lovely, local, bottled water. This water is to be used for all our watering needs around the farm and with the advent of our new tree nursery and vegetable garden I think the water is going to be much needed.
Something we have a lot of is horse manure (surprise!). We are currently investigating how we can combine our well-composted horse dung with large amounts of leaves which are collected by Angus council before they start salting the roads, and are delivered to Pathhead rather than being disposed of in landfill. This agreement with the council is in its second year and we are nearly ready to look at producing a working compost mix which we hope, will go some way to offsetting the use of peat based composts. At this time we are still using some peat based composts, particularly for seed sowing and growing on very young plants but our trees seem to be reponding very well to the experimental mixes that we are trying out on them. We'll keep you posted on progress.