Roundoak is set in the heart of the Kentish countryside, south of the county town of 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 at Kings Oak Farm in Ulcombe. The farm also conservation graze approximately 1200 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 700. 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 2018, 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 now 2 1/2 years old. Further cattle including heifers and another bull, 'The Prince of Balmoral', came to the farm last year and have settled in well. The farm broadened its breeds, several years ago, 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, in 2017, at Roundoak after winning 1st prize at the Edenbridge and Oxted Show in the same year. In May 2018, the first Sussex calves were born.
To broaden the farm's rare breed population at Roundoak, in the autumn of 2018, we were pleased to introduce some White Park cattle from Chirk castle in North Wales; and through the farms connection with the Rare Breed Survival Trust have also purchased some endangered Vaynol cattle from the borders of Scotland.
The farm also introduced some very rare breed Boreray Sheep and North Ronaldsays, probably the rarest breeds in the UK.
It is hoped the introduction of these extremely endangered breeds will gather public awareness especially if they are seen around the South East conservation grazing.
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, Sussex cattle and Hebridean Sheep, all of which have similar grazing qualities.
The farm still has a number of rare breed pigs and also plenty of free-range chickens and several guinea fowl that can be found roaming around the farm freely.
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 2018, the Farm continues to grow. The relationship with Redrock Living has flourished with luxury glamping and specialist events including a Gin Night and Secret Supper event. Roundoak Events have already hosted a number of weddings and specialist parties and it is a side to our business that we see growth. A specialist website has been dedicated to this and can be found at www.roundoakevents.co.uk.