Setting up a smallholding in Ross-on-Wye

By Catherine Barkley in Community News

The smallholding at Greytree has brought delight to many local residents, especially the arrival of the spring’s new lambs, and it is all thanks to a team of three, hard working young people.

Brothers Ben and Kieran Evans Baldwin, and Ben’s fiancée, Kd Mallinson, contacted the land owner a couple of months ago, who was happy for the team to set up paddocks in the field, where animals could graze.

Ben, Kd and Kieran all work full time, in addition to managing the smallholding. Ben is a chef at the Royal Hotel and Kieran and Kd both work at Westbank Residential Home.

Setting up his own smallholding has been Ben’s dream for a long time. He first became involved in farming when he was a pupil at John Kyrle High School, where he undertook a course in agriculture.

After he left school, Ben went on to work full time at a farm in St Weonards for five years, where his skills grew and grew. Ben and Kd then adopted three lambs as pets, and reared them in their back garden.

When the lambs outgrew the space, they moved them to a plot of land in Hoarwithy, which Ben had discovered while he had been working as a gardener.

Ben, Kd and Kieran have always lived in Ross-on-Wye, and when they saw the patch of land at Greytree, they felt it would be the perfect place to base their own smallholding.

Ben and Kd still have their original three sheep, and have extended their pack, which includes some Soay, a smaller, darker breed of sheep.

The field is divided up into four paddocks. The sheep are kept in one paddock at a time, and they are moved regularly to give the grass chance to recover.

They have also set up a nursery in a poly-tunnel to give poorly lambs a warm, quiet space to recover. There are three lambs, each one-week-old, currently in the nursery, where they are looked after by their mums. The lambs are also bottle fed by Ben, Kieran, and Kd, so they will grow big and strong.

Ben and Kd’s son, Mason, also enjoys helping out around the smallholding.

They have one chicken at the moment. There were more, but unfortunately, a fox got to them. Kd told the Gazette that they are planning on getting some more ex-battery hens.

The team has also recently welcomed a goat to the smallholding. They found the six-year-old animal on Facebook, who was given free to a good home.

Kd explained that they once had a very friendly goat at Greytree, she said that he enjoyed hopping over the fence and into people’s cars, so he had to be re-homed, but they have all missed the mischievous animal.

The group have had a lot of support from the local community, and even though they live nearby, they appreciate the Greytree residents who keep an eye on the field when they are not there.

Ben, Kd and Kieran are hoping to soon open the smallholding to the public, but they are not yet able to do so until they have their public liability insurance sorted. However, people walking past the paddocks can look over the hedge and see the animals skipping happily around in the field.

Once they have their insurance sorted, the plan is to have an open day, where local people and visitors can go to have a look around the smallholding, meet the animals, and find out more about what Ben, Kd and Kieran have done so far.

The team are planning on launching a Go Fund Me online donation page, to help with the costs of running the smallholding, paying for food, vets bills and fencing, et cetera.

The webpage is not yet live, but if you would like to donate, you can get in contact with the group. Search for Greytree Smallholding on Facebook, or contact the Ross Gazette, by calling 01989 562007, and we can put you in contact with one of the team.

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