Manor Farm and the Newman Farming Partnership
Born in Dorset to a family who have farmed in Cattistock country since the early 1600s, Dan Newman now farms in partnership with his wife, Helen and son Bertie. They farm a commercial organic and conventional suckler herd comprising 400 head of cattle and a sheep flock of 1500 ewes. The extensively managed all grass farm of 1600 acres, part rented and part owned is split over 4 farms in West Dorset. Their daughter, Tillie has recently returned from working in New Zealand and is currently helping during the lambing season
They moved from Chantmarle Farm to Manor Farm, Cattistock in July 2017, when they purchased the farm, which they had previously rented for 20 years on a temporary basis from the Creswell family. In the year since they purchased the farm, buildings have been erected to house the cattle in the winter months and they have renovated the bungalow where they now live. Bertie lives at the top of the farm at Hill Barn.
Pearce, who lives in Cerne Abbas joined the team on October 2018 and helps them on the farm on a full-time basis.
Farming is not only a choice of profession for the Newmans, a lifestyle choice for the family and a constantly expanding business, but a tradition they feel a strong desire to continue. Dan says, “We are extremely privileged to be able to farm in such a stunning area as Dorset. We are also aware that our chosen occupation is not and will never be the easy option”.
The organic flock is made up mainly of North Country Cheviot ewes; this breed is a hardy type of sheep, which is well suited for permanent pasture grazed on the Dorset hills, some of which is in environmental schemes that encourage wildlife and bio-diversity. The flock grazes the fields all year, enjoying the freedom and a healthy environment associated with being outside.
During lambing the sheep are regularly checked and are only handled if help is required. Most ewes have one or two lambs. The lambs are all recorded and electronically tagged to enable full traceability and all tails are docked to prevent problems associated with flies.
Lambing is full of wonderful moments, such as live healthy twins dancing in the sunshine; but is also very hard work and full of testing times for a variety reasons. Unfortunately, not every lamb is born alive and not every birth is an easy one – some would call it character building!
Once lambing is over the calving will start. The herd is made up of Hereford and Angus Cows which again suit our farming system. The principle is the same as lambing sheep, but the animal is larger and usually has only one calf.
There are numerous restrictions dictating what can and can’t be done and the farming enterprises and business are inspected by several different organisations at any point in the year.
We will enjoy being good neighbours with the people of Cattistock and will go out of our way to help anyone who is interested to understand what we are doing.
There are two footpaths through the farm and Cattistock and one bridle path, which people are welcome to use, however it is important to remember this is a working farm and it is advised to keep to the permitted paths with all dogs on leads for your own health and safety.
Over coming months we will continue to describe some of the different activities that are needed to run a modern organic farm.