What an incredible three weeks of September we’ve experienced.
On the 1st of the month we hit rock bottom with the devastating news that our farm is positioned in the middle of the new South Devon badger cull zone.
All the evidence keeps proving that these culls are incredibly ineffective and deeply inhumane. There is also now robust research stating they are actually making TB worst in the established cull areas not better. In a nutshell, what a waste of life and money.
But for us here in South Devon it made no difference, the cull was officially underway with no prior warning and our farm was slap-bang in the middle of it.
Sadly all our neighbours have signed up to it, meaning the land surrounding our farm is likely scattered with cage traps and traversed by shooters waiting to take out any unsuspecting badger that crosses the area.
We have a number of badgers on our farm and we desperately, desperately want to keep them safe. We knew the only way we can do this is to feed them so to keep them from wandering off our land.
But we quickly realised feeding several badgers every night until the 30th of November would soon tot up. We were also (and still are) deeply worried that the shooters will nocturnally trespass onto our land to get to our badgers.
This meant investing in many trail cameras to monitor our boundaries, because to catch and prove someone is trespassing we need photographic evidence. We also have several setts to monitor, so this meant the need for even more cameras.
As we mapped out our plan so we realised with clarity this unscientific cull had finally landed on our door and we are going to do all we can to defend our boundary but at the same time we felt very alone in this task.
We knew we needed help and discussed how long these culls have been going on for and how so many folk up and down the country feel completely disempowered to stop them from happening. Then we thought why not turn this disempowerment into positivity and ask the public to help farmers like us that are right on the frontline?
So we did, we asked you wonderful folk if you’d help us buy food and night vision cameras for our badgers.
What we never anticipated was the overwhelming response we would receive.
Within 8hrs the first bags of peanuts arrived, the following day the our postman knocked on the door and dropped down some letters in porch, as I picked them off the floor and thanked him, he turned to me with a wry smile said “Oh I haven’t finished with you yet” with that he rolled back the door to his van to show it stacked high and wide with boxes, boxes upon boxes.
The next day the same happened but even more so, if that was even to be possible. We sent our postie off with a shoulder of our lamb as a way of saying thank you.
On the Saturday it moved to becoming just incredible. Pretty much every half hour another delivery driver arrived with yet another delivery of boxes. Then emails came wishing to donate via Paypal and then by cheque and then direct bank transfer.
It had gone completely crazy, pet food, peanuts, seeds and cameras came in those boxes and by the dozen, even a high-vis jacket and a head torch arrived.
Our badgers and us are no longer alone; this outpouring of kindness for our wild neighbours brought tears to our eyes.
By Monday we thought surely this must have run it course yet the boxes kept arriving. We whizzed into the local farm stores to buy food bins and even a massive metal feed hopper to keep all this food dry and safely away from rats.
Then folks turned to wanting to support us as a badger friendly farm and wanting to buy their food from us, orders for lamb boxes started to flood in and they still are.
People are voting with their wallets and forks, it’s something we’ve been saying for years but now it’s clear the general public want farmers to do more than just grow food. They want us to truly embrace the duty of care to the wildlife we share this land with.
With so many investing in our request we realised to do this safeguarding properly we actually needed a bespoke person whose job it was to oversee our badgers, their feeding, the monitoring of the security cameras, the record keeping and night patrols.
Once again we turned to the public and asked for help, once again we were inundated with kindness this time in the form of volunteers who offered to come from every corner of the country. From these fantastic people came our very own Village Farm Badger Warden who arrived two days later, a wonderful person who wishes to stay unnamed but who will be with us monitoring our badgers until the cull has ended.
On reflection, what a month this has been, at the beginning our spirits were so deep in despair but they have risen in amazement through the true kindness and generosity.
If there is one lesson from all of this, it’s so many of us do truly care for our much-maligned British wildlife and that’s awe-inspiring.
With all the generosity that came to our door we saved the names from every receipt, sadly some companies didn’t supply a receipt so for 12 of you we have no names to thank but you know who you are. So to the unnamed and those we found the names to below thank you all so much.
You have all made a huge difference to the safety of the badgers on this farm, we are truly grateful, so are our badgers I’m sure, they are certainly enjoying the food and we ourselves can’t thank you enough.
Thank you so much to ….
(In alphabetical order by surname)
C.Allen S.Allen S.Allonby, F.Ashurst.
P.Banks S.Blannin A.Barnes R.Barnes J.Barnett L.Barratt S.Barry H.Bell L.Bellis
V.Bennett N.Betton E.Black J.Bolitho J.Bolton P.Boon J .Boorman S .Branch J .Brogan
P.Brookshaw J.Buckley T.Bunnell A.Burns R.Bygrave J.Byrne.
N.Chambers S Chamberlin A.Carey B.Charlwood F CarMichael N.Carter J.Childs S.Chilvers
D.Church J.Clark J.Clayton A.Clearwater A.Clemison P.Clutterbuck J.Cole T.Cole A.Collins
C.Collins M.Collinson M.Colson J.Congiu A.Connoll A.Corp R.Corbett A.Cowie J.Cresswell
J.Daisley S.Davis A.Dawson C.Day R.Dean C.Decaille N.Dempsey R.Dennett R.Dittrich D.Dowsett C.Doyle J.Doyle P.Drake C.Duggan F.Durant A.Durham J.Dyer.
L.Ellis R.Ellis P.Etheridge C.Evans.
S.Finch J.Forsyth Flossy C.Flowler-Marson A.Fountain C.Fox J.French C.Fulbrook A.Fulgoni
V.Gadsden K.Gaffney D.Gardham C.Gardner M.Gardner V.Garvey
A.Giddings C.Gillies L.Grace S.Grant J.Grimes T.Graham S.Gray K.Greenhalf J.Gordon A.Goulding T.Gunn
R.Hague J.Hamer B.Hamilton J.Harding J.Harold A.Harris V.Harris L.Harrod J.Hart A.Hawker
V.Heard A.Henderson D.Herschell O.Hitch J.Hodges T.Hollands T.Hope-Osborne E.Hurley
P.Jack Jaq G.James J.Jeffery S.Jenkins Jenny K.Jones J.Joinson Judy J.Keeling M.Kowel
S.Layfield M.Lebasci V.Leyland P.Lingley D.Longbottom A.Loryman
P.Macdonald R.McAlernon A.McCoy R.McKoen-Clark S.McLachlan M.McMurraan C.Mcnally
T.McNicholas J.McSorley M.Martin Maltbys Stores P.Marie J.Maguire N.Matheson D.Metcalfe
K.Minto A.Morgan D.Morgan E.Moss J.Murray
J.Palfrey J.Parker P.Parslow A.Pedley C.Pellow J.Pett J.Phillips L.Phillips M.Phillips P.Pickford A.Pickwell J.Pinn C.Price M.Price
T.Radwan S.Reed S.Reisz F.Renwick S.Rigby A.Robertson J.Robson G.Rogers J.Rose J.Russell S.Russell Bryan.RS
C.Salisbury C.Sandford C.Scott B Shacklady J.Shingleton L.Simcoe M.Smethurst C.Smith
Z.Smith T.Smout J.Speller C.Stallard M.Stone
S.Varcoe L.Vickers S.Villet A.Vinton
T.Tasker C.Teresa E.Thompson K.Thornton L.Tierney B.Tipping A.Tomlinson S.Tuck S.Turner
S.Walters S.Webley R.Weeks T.Wenger J.White R.White S.White P.Whiter J.Whiting
M.Whiting C.Williams S.Williams P.Willis A.Wilson K.Wilson Windy B.Winkler K.Winspear
D.Winter D.Wolton F.Wood H.Wood L.WoodwardJ.Woolgar
C.Yard C.Young G.Young