Newsletter 2 - September 2012

The Straw Bale Building Competition

The competition had over 100 entries with several interesting entries. The number was whittled down to the final 7 and after much discussion a name was chosen. I hope you all approve of it. The name was suggested by Millie and Evan Pringle who had been staying the eco cottage.

So ... the name is... The Bales, which stands for Brynmawr Agricultural Lifestyle Education Sanctuary!

The winners have asked us to donate the prize to a worthy cause. This will probably be a hostel or womens refuge – we will let you all know.

Natural England are going to make a special plaque for the building. Maybe we will have an unveiling!
Remember you can use The Bales for an event. To find out more contact Trevor or Jacky.


Following the last email we suddenly had a whole week of hot sunny weather and as a result it was a mad dash to get all the hay cut, tedded and baled. I think every baler in the country was out day and night to finish off as much as possible. We did carry on hay making after that glorious week with just the odd extra field which needed to be cut following all the rain we had had.

The rain hasn’t been kind to the potatoes, and it is now back again, so it remains to be seen what the corn harvest will be like. We had another dry spell which has helped but now we are waiting for it to stop to start harvesting again! However we have been very busy, besides finishing the hay, we have weaned all the lambs, finished the topping and sowed rape and turnips, used to fatten the lambs.

Remember the two new arrivals? -

New Arrivals

Our two new arrivals pictured in last months newsletter (and here they are again) are one year old black highland heifers named Ailsa Of Tarton Dragon and Rona of Tartan Dragon. Highlands are always named in a particular way, usually after there sire or dam followed by their fold name. Tarton Dragon is the fold we bought these two from. Our fold is Brynmawr, so if we named our calfs they could be called after their mother or father followed by ‘of Brynmawr’.

Tarton Dragon fold always name theirs after Scottish Islands. Rona is way up above the North of Scotland and was said to have been the residence of Saint Ronan in the eighth century. Wikipedia says..

The island continued to be inhabited until the entire population of thirty died shortly after 1685 after an infestation by rats, probably the Black Rat Rattus rattus, which reached the island after a shipwreck. The rats raided the food stocks of barley meal and it is possible the inhabitants starved to death, although plague may have been a contributory factor. This occurred in a year in which it is reported that no further ships reached the isolated island to supply or trade. The rats themselves eventually starved to death, the huge swells the island experiences preventing their hunting along the rocky shores.

Ailsa Craig is 219.69 acres in the outer Firth of Clyde, where blue hone granite was quarried to make curling stones. The now uninhabited island is formed from the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano. The island was a haven for Catholics during the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century, but is today a bird sanctuary, providing a home for huge numbers of gannets and an increasing number of puffins.

Apparently the island is currently owned by 8th Marquess of Ailsa, 19th Earl of Cassillis but is up for sale for £1,500,000.
Highlands have very calm and gentle natures and hopefully Rona we will able to halter train Rona and Ailsa – more of this in the future.

We have also more new arrivals! – more of them in the next newsletter! Not named after islands, in fact not named at all.


Here are a few pictures of the events held during August in The Bales.

Weaving   Looming

Weaving Workshop                                   Peg Looming


...and the BBQ

There have also been several walks held on the farm including a’ Walking for Health’ walk around Rhos Fiddle – the nature reserve adjacent to Brymawr that we manage. This included a young man .... of 91. You can find out more about walking for health in Shropshire by going to and using the search facility.

Natural England also came and held a meeting in The Bales and then had a farm tour. This lasted nearly 3 hours – I hope this means we are doing things right.

Don’t forget that you can get a group together and have a farm tour and see how our organic farm promotes wildlife and diversity.

Future Events

We have been concentrating on schools and education programmes recently but have canvassed our visitors and hope to put on some courses and workshops in the future.


If you want any information about The Bales or Free farm tours don’t hesitate to contact us.

Trevor Wheeler - or 07799 681134, Brynmawr, Newcastle on Clun, Craven Arms SY7 8QU
Jacky Harrison - or 01588 630666