Roundoak is set in the heart of the Kentish countryside, south of the county town Maidstone, on the southerly slopes of the Greensand Ridge overlooking the beautiful weald of Kent. The mainly grassland farm now consists of approximately 180 acres including 5 acres of natural oak woodland at Sutton Valence, and a further 70 acres just a mile or so away in Ulcombe. The farm also conservation graze approximately 800 acres throughout central Kent.
Hebridean Sheep are unusual in this part of the South East but it was the idea of Norman and Ruth Coles to purchase a flock of 16 ewes and Winkwell Falco the ram and breed them in Kent. The sheep were purchased on the Borders of Scotland and England from a hill farm near the Kielder Forest in Cumbria. Our first lambing season in spring 2005 produced 32 lambs from the 16 ewes we had two sets of triplets, some twins and a few singles. All mothers lambed themselves outdoors without intervention.
2015 was an exciting year at Roundoak. The farm obtained planning permission for a permanent dwelling, which is now completed, and Ruth and Norman moved in in November the same year.
The flock of Hebridean Ewes and Rams continues to grow and at its peek during the year numbers stand at over 500. The Highland cattle fold has also continued to grow since the farm acquired the stock from the well-known Frith Manor Farm fold at Lingfield. In 2017, our cattle numbers stand at in excess of 130 cows, calves and bulls. Both Samuel of Pollock and Victor of Earn our two Highland bulls have moved on, and we were proud to purchase a bull from Her Majesty the Queen at Balmoral Castle. Her Stockman Dochy Ormiston found us 'The Duke of Balmoral', who is 18 months old and was introduced to the fold towards the end of last year. Several years ago, the farm broadened its breeds to include a new herd of Sussex cattle, with a pedigree bull that was acquired from the Mayfield herd of pedigree Sussex Cattle. ‘The Captain’ arrived, last year, at Roundoak after winning 1st prize at the Edenbridge and Oxted Show. In May of this year, the first Sussex calves were born.
The farm also introduced some very rare breed Boreray Sheep and North Ronaldsays, probably the rarest breeds in the UK, to enhance the farm’s cross section of breeds that are used in important conservation grazing across the county. Also in 2016, a flock of 65 Suffolk Mules were introduced to the farm, with a Suffolk Mule ram - the first lambs from the flock arrived in February/March of 2017
Conversation grazing remains an important part of Roundoak. The farm graze several sites, including Teston Country Park for Kent County Council; The Ashford Community Woodland Local Nature Reserve for Ashford Borough Council; The Yalding Fens for the Medway Valley Conservation Trust and private land at East Malling and West Farleigh. The conservation grazing is shared between the Highland Cattle and Hebridean Sheep, both of which have similar qualities.
The farm still has a Gloucester Old pigs and Tamworth pigs. The farm also has plenty of free-range chickens and several guinea fowl that can be found roaming around the farm.
The farm enjoys many visitors who are interested in the different breeds. Caravan and camping pitches continue to be popular with many visitors returning time and time again.
In 2017, the Farm has several new projects. We have teamed up with Redrock Living, and have the first of three luxury glamping tents available. This was launched in July of this year and already reservations have been received throughout the summer.
The Farm also hosted the wedding of Norman's eldest daughter Louise to Mike. The day was such a success and led to the Farm announcing the launch of its exclusive wooded wedding and events venue.