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Our Story So Far

So back in early January 2020 whilst on a health-kick, and when Covid was an unfamiliar word, we went walking and discovered an empty house not far from where we were already living. A beautiful old farmhouse just outside of our picturesque village nestled in the idyllic Tanat Valley of Mid Wales.

After much deliberation and then negotiation, we moved homes in early March 2020. The house, we discovered, came with just under 3 acres of land and several barns and outbuildings. We had dreams that this could become an exciting new business venture for us but exactly what, we were yet undecided and anyway, we just felt blessed to be in this amazing place.

Then Covid hit the country, the world, and the word lockdown became ingrained in our vocabulary.

That resulted in me (Gary) going out to work still and me (Jude) being home with our school-age children. The kids learned how to use power tools and build furniture, when they weren’t schooling online of course! Subsequently, what happened over time, we made use of the outside space. We started to explore the grounds, cut back the overgrown brambles and nettles, and discover areas which probably hadn’t seen the sunlight for quite a number of years. We began to grow flowers, shrubs, plants and vegetables, either in the ground directly, in our DIY raised beds, or in our newly built glass greenhouse. We began to feed all the numerous wild birds which came to visit, from blue tits to siskins, from robins to gold finches, from nuthatches to swifts, and to the stunning great spotted woodpecker to name but a few.

We went from two kids and a couple of cats to having a couple of dogs, several breeds of chickens, ducks, bronze turkeys, geese, guinea fowl, peahens and our peacock Maximilian. Oh of course we now have nine goats who will eat your clothing and try to escape at any given opportunity. Life became very different. We became very in tune with the seasons and with the animal and bird life. We often chatted with our neighbour farmer too, learning about sheep and cattle (not that we’re taking farming to that extent mind you). He has always been generous with his advice and guidance.

We admit we are a little smallholding … a very, very small smallholding … in comparison to Jeremy Clarkson’s farm. That said, like him, we are continuously learning about how to feed and look after our animals and the wildlife, how and when to plant flowers, fruits and vegetables, and generally how to help animals and plants to grow and thrive.

So this is what we decided to do (and we admit, we were inspired to start by the TV programme 'Jeremy Clarkson's Farm'). In January 2022, we started to create a physical farm shop and we opened on the 30th April 2022 as FORK HANDLES FARM SHOP. A year later, due to customer demand, we extended and created a tearoom plus a kitchen galley so we could offer more hot and cold food choices. Of course, this also means a lot more seating. We can seat about 24 people inside and more than that outside.

This is very much a work in progress, definitely in its infancy with LOTS MORE TO COME, with Jude and Monty Don, we mean Gary, at the helm. We are very lucky to live where we do and we have always appreciated the small stuff, now more than ever.

Please keep up to date with any news and madness via the Facebook page and Instagram.

Happy feeding, planting and drinking tea.

Love Jude, Gary and The Mad Menagerie