Having met each other almost 20 years ago whilst both working for the Field Studies Council in Malham, Yorkshire, Jill and Andy Cawthray have lived in Shropshire with their 3 children for the last 10years.
Jill has a degree in environmental sciences and has many years experience in conservation and education having worked for the Field Studies Council, Shropshire Wildlife Trust and through teaching geography and the environment in a number of schools and colleges. A life long enthusiasm for plants and green issues has led to a formal horticulture qualification with the RHS Advanced Certificate.
Andy has always had a passion for birds and the environment. Having obtained a degree in ecology and conservation, it wasn't long before this enduring interest was put to use working for the Field Studies Council, then spending 7 years with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Being an experienced practical gardener and avid poultry collector has led to free lance writing, with regular articles in publications such as "Practical Poultry" and "Grow It!" magazines
We both caught the bug, found no cure and now simply accept, plants and poultry are addictive!
No matter where we've lived, we've always been gardeners in some shape or form, and more often than not we've had to recover a neglected garden or start from a blank canvas.
As environmentalists we continually strive to garden with nature in mind and to this end we will use organic methods and sustainable resources wherever we can.
All our plants are home grown, either germinated from seeds or propagated from cuttings taken from our existing stock. All are grown in peat free composts. We are constantly looking for new alternatives to peat and have trialled many over the years.
Only organic or natural methods are used for pest control, we re-use pots recovered from recycling schemes locally, and any plastics that go beyond practical use are passed on to a specialist plastics recycler to be made into compounds for drainage pipes etc.
With this mind it seemed only natural for us to fall into the 'naturalistic planting' style that we have, and this led to us expanding beyond the boundary of the garden and on to specialising in perennial grasses, native species, and easy care herbaceous perennials.
Coincidentally this proved to be an ideal compliment to chickens in the garden, and just goes to show that poultry proof planting is possible and it's not all dust baths and dock leaves!
The poultry collection started back in 2001 with a small flock of Black Rock hybrid layers and has been ever growing since that time.
This sparked an interest in the huge range of traditional poultry breeds and resulted in establishing the flocks of pure and rare breeds we have today.
The range of poultry breeds provides something for everyone. From the small friendly breeds like the Nankin or Pekin, through utility breeds for eggs and table in the Sussex and Ixworth, to colourful egg blue egg layers like the Araucana. There are the exotic 'kings of chickens', the Brahmas, to the one of the rarest and oldest breeds, the Owlbeards.
There are breeds originating from across the globe from Chile, Italy, Holland etc, as well as UK developed birds. Many coming in a wide range of colours from white to blue, and gold to red. We breed, incubate, hatch and rear throughout the year with regular orders from across the UK for hatching eggs, growing birds and adult stock.
All the adult birds are kept outside in grass runs and are fed on a diet of GM Free pellet and wheat. The flock is fully DEFRA registered. In addition many types of housing are used, some homebuilt, some manufactured, in many sizes to suit all needs and breeds.
Through the years experience has taught us what to look for both in terms of the birds, their welfare and their needs, so if you have a question, then please feel free to ask, we are more than happy to provide talks, practical advice, training and education.