Ready Steady Grow…


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Latest News | Posted on 09-10-2014

Moving into a new home means moving into a new garden too, and there is a sense that despite bringing some ready grown plants from our previous garden, we have to start all over again. There is also a great mystery that the seasons will unravel, and so far this year I have been pleasantly surprised by the plants that are already in residence. We had a beautiful array of snowdrops and daffodils brightening the cold spring mornings, and I am thrilled to see the climbers over the Ludlow, Shropshiregarden wall coming into full bloom, as well as a laburnam tree showing its beautiful purple blossoms. This is my favourite so far; my grandmother, who sadly passed away over twenty years ago now had three laburnams in a row in her rather regimented garden. Veg grown on one side, and a flower garden and lawn on the other, I do think that if she is looking down on us she would be quite proud of what we are trying to acheive here at Wrickton Hall.
We have been lucky in that there were already a couple of raised beds built in the garden that just needed turning over and some compost mixing in, and Mick picked up a greenhouse on freecycle to start the vegetable seeds. And now that we have met the beginning of May, the beds are looking promising and the greenhouse is growing in greenness everyday.

We have herbs that will not be too much longer before being planted out into a herb box; Mick made a planter last year from an old pallet, last year we grew far too much lettuce in it, but this year it will become our herb pot. We have onions and garlic growing well in one of the raised beds, with a row of early radishes, and peas, more onions, beetroot and lettuce in another. The brassicas, cauli, broccoli and kale are in a new raised bed that Mick rotivated about a month ago. Something again we learned with growing last year is that netting is a must, we have an eave full of swallows nests and plenty of other wildlife that would love to share our vegetables with us!

We are a little undecided yet where the fruit bushes are going; possibly a dedicated area that we can cage in to protect the fruit. We have brought strawberry plants across from the last garden and they are flowering already, and our trusty dustbin that the potatoes grow in has had it’s second layer of soil added to encourage longer and more productive roots.

Yet it is still a time of patience, there isn’t anything ready to eat, preserve, jam or soup yet, and there is still the waiting to see what else nature has in store in the wooded area of our garden, fruits I hope and I think there may even be a walnut tree; trees that have grown here year after year, appreciated by whoever has cared to enjoy them.
But alongside the successful growing of our fruit and veg, and the joy of seeing the flowers coming into bloom, there is also the control of the lawn and the weeds!

We have invested in a self-propelled petrol lawn mower; Mick says that even I would be able to use it…I’ve managed to avoid it so far! Today the lawn had it’s second cut, and it only took five hours, compared to a day and a half a fortnight ago.

Sheep and LambsMick is looking forward to the sheep moving in shortly. (Hannah was given a lamb for her birthday six weeks ago so we are waiting for the lamb to be fully weaned and for us to construct some stock fencing and then we are ready, hopefully for five sheep and maybe even a pair of goats!) As far as the weeds go, so far it seems that just dandelions on the lawn are the problem: I’m not keen to pull out anything that I don’t recognise from the flower beds, just in case they take me by surprise and turns out to be a prize flower!

Keep an eye on Wrickton Hall news and follow the growth of our garden and some recipes to use with the home-grown veg over the weeks to come.

First House Guests


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Dog Boarding, Latest News | Posted on 23-04-2014

These past couple of weeks have seen the first doggy house guests here at Wrickton Hall, and so far it has been a complete pleasure. It’s almost like running a B and B but with a different kind of conversation. Mornings mean out in the garden for obvious ablutions then in for breakfast, a good playtime outside in the sun that we have been blessed with, a long walk, and cuddles on the sofa in the evenings.

Our first house guest was Drake, a beautiful Staffie, who loved to play in the garden, playing fetch with his toys and any stick that he brought back from his walks; we had quite a collection by the time he went home, and we would have had even more if he could have moved some of the logs he wanted to!

We have also had a very lively pair of puppies; Blue Staffie sisters, thankfully with coloured ID tags on their collars; the only way to tell them apart. They were hugely energetic, but long country walks would leave them cuddled up on our laps at the end of the day.

No doubt we will meet many more dogs as the year progresses, and many more of their owners too, I hope that we can continue our trend of sending the dogs home with everyone, both human and canine, happy with their holiday experience.

Home from home dog boarding

Resident dog boarders enjoying the home from home experience.

Our home from home dog boarding is located between Ludlow and Bridgnorth with visitors from all over the UK.

Sorting out the ‘pecking order’


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Chickens, Latest News | Posted on 23-03-2014

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It may be an old fashioned phrase for sorting out who is the boss, but we have certainly seen this perfectly in action over the past couple of weeks with the introduction of new chickens to our brood.

Rhode Island red Cockerel


Our first hens, who moved here with us from Birmingham, are Warrens, a crossbreed chicken known for their egg production; bred from crossing Light Sussex with Rhode Island Red. With this in mind, Mick and Hannah went chicken shopping! Twice! The first trip saw them returning with a gorgeous young Rhode Island Red Cockerel who we have named Rodney, he is only a teenager at the moment and doesn’t yet have his tail feathers, but he is beginning to crow and get the general idea of how to keep the hens in order. Five Light Sussex Hens moved in too, so that we can breed some more Warrens, and Hannah’s overdue Christmas present of a Black Rock, and a Speckledy completed the brood under Rodney’s control. The pecking order is sorted out just as it says on the tin, it seems that those who can front up to each other and look the more dangerous are in charge and quite literally take them down a peg or two. Those in charge get the higher roost in the coops, the others are on the pegs further down!

Light Sussex Cockerel


With all of our hens happily settled again, the egg production has increased, and I have regular orders from work friends, so much so, that Mick decided that with the ample space and the new coop that Mick built from a flatpack, we had the space to have even more hens. This time it was a trip to the local poultry auction in Bridgnorth and Hannah and I returning from work that evening to be introduced to our five new Lohmans, a hybrid again for egg production, and the most beautiful Light Sussex Cockerel. He really is a gorgeous young man, mainly white with full black and white tail feathers; being the elder of the two males he is now in charge of the brood. He is a little cheeky, and has tried his luck at fronting up to Hannah and myself, but can be pacified with a handful of corn on the floor. He happily bows down to Mick now too; his spurs needed clipping, as they would have been dangerous to the hens; done gently with no pain to either Delboy (our name for him as he is Rodney’s older brother ish!) or to Mick, and he has settled in rather nicely. Delboy is in charge of the brood, with Rodney as his second in command, and one of our original Warren ladies firmly in third place; pecking order sorted out.

The next chicken purchase will be an incubator so that we can breed some purebreeds and hybrids of our own.

Chicken Breeds

A Light Sussex, Black Rock and Speckledy hen line up for breakfast.

Prepared whatever the weather?


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Chickens, Latest News | Posted on 13-02-2014

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There are times when following friends on twitter or Facebook; watching News 24, or even having the radio on in the car, brings us closer to the awful weather that we have been having. So many of our river towns here in Shropshire and nearby Worcestershire have been affected by the constant rainfall, and so many people have had damage to property and land; and with two more storms queuing over the Atlantic ready to attack, I wonder how much more damage can be done. Politicians and Environmentalists have already started the blame game, fuelled by the media; but realistically, there is nothing to be done but clear the mess and mend the damage.

At Wrickton hall we have thankfully weathered the first storm without damage. A few interesting drives along our country lanes in snow, floods and high winds have left me grateful for the log burner and a cuddle with the dog and cats on my return home; and I will admit to laughing when Mick had to chase the roof of the chicken coop down the garden in his wellies. But other than that and a couple of upturned patio chairs we have been safe and sound.

Winter Snow Near Bridgnorth

Snow on the road from Cleobury North to Bridgnorth

But I am not leaving anything to chance, especially with two more storms to come and media threats of continued weather disruption for the next month. Since we have moved in, I have kept and washed every sauce jar, and every plastic milk carton; recycling at its very best. Come the weekends, anything from the pantry that needs to be used up is turned into a sauce, or a soup, and saved either in the fridge or the chest freezer to be used when needed. I have spare milk in the freezer (this is the first time I’ve frozen milk, but it seems to have worked) a loaf of bread, soup, cheese, and a good supply of frozen chips!

Despite the cold wet and wild weather our faithful chickens are still giving us plenty of eggs, and we in return have stocked up on their food. Food for the pets is just as important as for us if we are stranded; so we have a stock of food in the utility room would probably last at least three months.Storm Damage

Spare logs are in the log store; I’m avoiding the standing joke in our household, that the myriad of books I have would make better fuel, and free up some bookshelves! Big woolly jumpers and thick socks at the ready, it’s time to batten down the hatches and hope that all those who are suffering from the weather can get through the next few days and weeks.

My first dinner party in Wrickton Hall.


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Latest News | Posted on 31-01-2014

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Tonight will see me hosting my first dinner party in at Wrickton Hall, and after a very busy week at work and a good amount of thinking and preparation in advance, hopefully I can relax and enjoy the company of our friends without spending the night in the kitchen.


Winter Warmer Dinner Party Menu

Starter:            Watercress and Goats Cheese Soup with fresh rolls. (Recipe)

Main:               Beef in Beer with Horseradish dumplings, served with creamy mashed potato and green vegetables. (Recipe)

Desert:             Pecan Pie with Whiskey Cream. (Recipe)

Preparation started earlier in the week, with making the soup and the Pecan pie, and an early morning this morning preparing the Beef in Beer for the slow cooker.



Burwarton Show 2014 | Shropshire Events


Posted by Mick | Posted in Latest News, Local Events | Posted on 31-01-2014

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The Burwarton Show will be held  Thursday 7th August  2014 at The Showground,  Cleobury North, Bridgnorth. Shropshire.

The Burwarton Agricultural Show goes back over 110 years and is proud to boast that it is the country’s best one day show. The show will return this year with a wide range of trade stands as well as attractions including:

  • Cossack trick riding and wild west performances.
  • A static bird display from Hawkeye Falconry UK.
  • Craft demonstrations.
  • Vintage tractors. engines and machinery.
  • Sheep shearing competition.

The Burwarton Show will be a fantastic day out for the family, who will be able to enjoy the entertainment, the food hall, and a wide range of heavy horse, cattle, pigs, goats and horses/ponies. Family tickets cost £32.00 in advance (2 adults + 3 children). Full information and tickets are available at The Burwarton Show website.



Happy Shropshire Freedom for our Chickens


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Chickens, Latest News | Posted on 26-01-2014

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Happy free range chickens!

Keeping chickens is rewarding in so many more ways than just the delicious fresh eggs. They can be quite interesting characters too, and today they have been particularly cheeky, getting the better of me from the minute they were let out of the coop this morning.

Free range chickens in ShropshireTheir usual routine is to head straight for the newly filled food troughs to eat their corn and layers pellets, but not this morning! Magic and I had left the gate open at the other end of the yard when we had gone in to say good morning, and as our girls came out of the coop they ran straight for the open gate, much faster than I could get there to close it. Thankfully we haven’t planted anything in the garden yet, and they enjoy eating the grass and scrabbling around for any unsuspecting worms, a real treat. With all six of the girls out in the garden, the chances of getting them penned back in were zero, Magic’s skills at rounding up chickens are as bad as mine; the chickens are completely used to Magic and in the most the girls ignore him; so we duly left them to enjoy the freedom.

But today our garden wasn’t quite enough, the grass obviously looked greener in next doors garden, and this afternoon they were enjoying a taste of that too! Thankfully chickens take themselves to bed as the sun sets, and all six ladies are now present and correct having found their own way back to their coop, and have been shut in for the night.

imageFour eggs today, which seems to be our average at the moment, as the weather improves we will probably be getting the full six again, or maybe more…

The plan is to get some more chickens. Hannah’s delayed Christmas present is a pair of black chickens, which we will buy in a few weeks time, and Mick is looking at buying a Rhode Island Red cockerel and Light Sussex hen so that we can breed Warrens. We have four Warrens already, our original four chickens, a hybrid chicken that is particularly bred for egg productivity. I wonder if the baby chicks will be as cheeky as the grown-ups!

New Year New Start – Wrickton Hall Dog Boarding Kennels


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Latest News | Posted on 04-01-2014

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A few days into the new move now. Life seems to be all mud and boxes. The weather has been challenging, even our dog has refused to go outside at times; our thoughts however go out to people in coastal areas who have faired far worse than just our soggy garden and muddy driveway!
The essentials are now up and running; dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer; and Mick is doing an amazing job at warming the house with the log burner.
Magic, our dog, has a very sore eye, which I am bathing frequently thanks to my friend’s advise, we are hoping he regains his bounce very soon; I am blaming the long wet grass and his shortness of leg!!!
The chickens have settled perfectly in the pigsties, a good area for them to have freedom, a bit of grazing and shelter from the almost persistent rain.
Our new additions, Coco and Rory, our two cats, are beginning to show some character. Rory is still very shy, spending his daytimes under the settee, but moving around in the peace of the nighttime; he is always under a different chair by the morning and eating well. Coco however is becoming much braver and curling up on the cushions on the settee in the evenings, he is especially lively when he is hungry!
Tomorrow we are hoping for a few moments of sunshine to take some photos for the website! Watch this space!
Tee x