From a working farm and holiday cottages to being under lockdown

17 April 2020

West Leas Farm is a working farm, holiday cottages and small caravan site.

It’s located 6 miles (ca. 10 km) out of Ripon, between the villages of Galphay and Kirkby Malzeard.

We spoke to the owner, Catherine Raw, about how her day has changed since the government direction to stay at home came into force.

How has your typical day changed since having to isolate ? 

Partly not a great deal, the animals are still producing like they would any other spring and that actually helps to have a sense of normality in our lives. It’s a family farm been in my family for four generations, producing beef and sheep.

To buy animal feed you have to phone the feed merchants given a time collection slot that day.

I’ve struggled for online shopping as my partner has myasthenia gravis and type two diabetes so his immune system is low and he can’t leave the farm. Adrian is not the Farmer – my eldest son Tom is the farmer.

We also have six holiday cottages and a 5 van caravan site with caravan and motorhome club – that’s changed completely as it has stopped. Most guests have been lovely we have had some lovely messages of support and best wishes

But we have no idea when we can open again and if people are allowed to travel do I want to run the risk of cleaning the cottages after them just in case they were carrying the virus

Its very hard to look at the farm looking so beautiful and after a long wet winter just as we should be enjoying the social side of our job to see empty CL (Certificated location) and six cottage gardens which all are going to need cutting each week.

What have you found difficult ?

The quietness of the gardens and missing seeing people.

There is some grant available to us because of the cottages, and loss of income, nothing for the caravan side.  Stock prices have fallen crazy when people need to eat, but our animals are sold as stores they are grass reared and go onto arable farms to fatten off lambs. Of course born now but will only be to sell from August onwards, so scarily that is  income a long way ahead.

Cattle will be going out soon to grass and the young stock which is 12 -15 months old will have a summer on grass before being sold in the autumn.

Livestock marts carry on but you take animals leave them don’t even get out of the car they unload your trailer you drive away the bad thing is you can’t see your animals sold and although the auctioneer tries to get a good price, basically the butchers have buying control luckily or unluckily for our finances we haven’t anything ready now to sell.

It would be the cottages income we would rely on in summer then livestock sales in the autumn

What have you missed ?

Going to our boat we’ve a cruiser boat just down on a marina off Ripon canal it’s our escape and of course it’s not essential to travel there so out of bounds. We try to escape there knowing that we are only 6 miles (9.66 km) away and can get back if needed at home for cow calving and any help Tom may need.

Family. I still see and I shop for my 87-year-old almost house bound mum. I take the groceries and just literally pop in for minutes I can’t leave them on doorstep she’s too frail but I do find I let myself in and by the time I pop my head into the lounge its all away, so I keep my distance from her – its once a week only

We registered yesterday with Tesco as Adrian being vulnerable and me as carer for both him and my mum hey presto we’ve a slot tomorrow.

So supermarkets are trying to get organised so vulnerable have access to on line deliveries.

Has there been any benefits ?

Peace, birdsong seems louder appreciating nature and the beauty of Spring joy at new life. I’ve had to help my son more than I would normally would as friends who occasionally help him in lambing can’t now come over.

Do you have any tips for people isolating ?

Listen to nature and wonder at the beauty, try to keep busy, tidy cupboards out!

Do some things you normally haven’t time to do, appreciate being alive and thankful that you live in beautiful countryside.

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