Opinion: Campsite is go, despite a drizzly August so far

Summer is marching on regardless of the weather here in Cornwall.

As I sit at the kitchen table writing, all I can see out of the window is fog and drizzle.

August is a fairly quiet month for us; the bulk of the silage has been cut, only a few bits of third-cut to mop up and the cows are fairly easy care at this time of year.

The bulls have a few more weeks to serve the cows and the calves are really getting a taste for the creep feed now. It seems to be doing the job, they’re flying.

See also: Opinion: Tenant farming readies you for ‘Brexit hardship’

For the first time we have dived into the tourism business and are trying our hand at running a little campsite in one of our prettiest fields.


We have been toying with the idea for a few years, originally looking at offering glamping and other more upmarket options, but the timing never seemed to be right with pregnancies, young kids and finances.

With Teddy and Lydia more mobile now and, dare I say it, almost useful, we decided to take the plunge.

No fancy yurts or teeppes, we have gone for a more back-to-basics offering with the bare minimum of facilities.

Despite this we have started to get some good online reviews and the advent of online booking apps have made the marketing and management of guests fairly hassle free.

We have welcomed a steady trickle of guests who have enjoyed themselves, often despite the soggy Cornish weather.

Diversification opportunities 

As a small farm we are always needing to look for opportunities to diversify that fit around our core enterprise.

We have been busy getting to grips with our new countryside stewardship agreement and have made a start on the capital works required.

Being paid for enhanced landscape protection sits quite comfortably with our business ethics.

As farmers we have an inherent love and affinity with wildlife and it is great to be able to do more to protect the special areas on our farm in a way that is financially viable.

I hope that post-Brexit, the government continue to fund countryside support in such a way as to enable small farms especially to benefit financially from delivering landscape protection and improvement.

One diversification which is not going so well is my horse hay enterprise, I keep a small number of customers supplied with hay over the winter months but the unsettled weather has yet to provide us with a sufficient rainless window to feel confident about cutting the hay fields.

I’ve had the stacking crew on standby for weeks now and I’m starting to get jumpy as Will is, starting to suggest we just big bale it for cow silage when we get a few days dry.

Wedding anniversary 

We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago, the time seems to have flown by.

Will suggested at one point that we could go away for a few days.

I got very excited checking out B&Bs online – where could we go?

Bath, perhaps, or South Wales? Of course, as it turns out, the farm conspired against me and we ended up spending the day swapping the bulls over and doing various other “urgent” jobs.

We did get chance to nip to the pub for dinner though and one of the neighbours shouted us a bottle of prosecco.

Not quite the assembly rooms at Bath but never mind, maybe next year.

After all, we haven’t had a night away from home other than the odd weekend visiting family, in more than six years.

Despite this, I find myself scrolling through the booking sites looking for last-minute deals on the off chance that Will decides we could squeeze a quick trip in between relief milking and cutting grass. A girl can dream.

 His suggestion that we could have a staycation in our very own campsite was rewarded with a spoonful of salt in his tea.

On the home front, Teddy has finished preschool, he starts at the local primary in a few weeks.

Both kids have been enjoying summer on the farm and have been spoilt by their grandparents with trips to the beach and the zoo.

I have managed to squeeze in a few nice rides and even made it to a competition the other week, my first for years.

Unfortunately, my horse, Hazel, is a born malingerer and decided halfway through a showing class to kick herself and then trotted out lame and we were forced to retire. Hazel looked suitably contrite, no serious damage a few days rest won’t heal.

In the meantime it has given me the chance to get Teddy out on his pony. Lydia loves riding too.

However, they cant seem to share. And trying to lead a child on a pony while the other has a massive tantrum is not very relaxing, hence I’m on the lookout for a suitably dinky charger for Lydia to call her own.

As well as a potential new pony, we are thinking about getting the kids a few pedigree sheep, they were both very taken with some Zwartbles at a local show and, anytime we go to market, Lydia insists on visiting the sheep pens.

They would come in handy for grazing around some of the small paddocks.

Will said perhaps they could reinvest the money from selling their bucket-reared calf to help fund them.

Jess Jeans and her husband Will run 75 suckler cows on an 80ha National Trust farm on the Devon/Cornwall border. They have two children, Teddy and Lydia. Jess has a degree in rural business management and enjoys horse riding in her spare time

See more