Warwickshire farm looks for help to care for its 140 animals
ALPACAS, llamas and rare breeds of pigs and sheep are just some of the 140 animals that might have to be sold because coronavirus has closed their farm to the public.
Middle England Farm, which is run by married couple Tom and Andie Stevens-Moore, has – like many businesses – suffered the worst 12 months ever, with revenue now non-existent.
The farm is situated on the Redditch Road, near Henley, and is usually gearing up for visitors this time of year but because of Covid, the gates are closed to the public who provide the income stream that pays for the animals’ food and medical bills.
“There’s been no specific government help for farms or zoos during the pandemic, but we still have to feed the animals and pay for their vaccinations,” said Andie. “Thankfully we’ve had some very loyal friends and businesses who have made financial or food donations and that’s kept us going.”
The couple have had to dig deep to get through the coronavirus nightmare but they’ve made sure the animals’ welfare has come first even when they themselves weren’t sure where their next meal was coming from. They don’t want to sell any of their animals – who all have names – but it’s a dilemma they’ve had to think about. The 12th April and the next step on the prime minister’s roadmap can’t come soon enough for Tom and Andie because that’s when public visits to the farm could re-start.
Both Tom and Andie know that without regular visitors and no sign of government support – no matter how modest – it will become increasingly difficult for them to care for the animals they love.
“We set up a funding page because the animals need to be fed, they’re still giving birth and need injections,” said Andie. “The farm is popular with Chinese and Japanese visitors who love being with the alpacas, but we’ve had no tour parties since lockdown and while there was some money made from last summer, everything now is four times harder which is why funding through donations will help us make the next few weeks do-able.”
Andie added: “It’s been a vicious circle and we’ve had to shut down the farm for over eight months and we rely 100 per cent on visitors coming to our farm. Our animals are not for meat or milk, they are here for people to enjoy, get to know, love, appreciate and relax with. Many are rescues and will live out the rest of their days with us.
“We’ve had a lot of support and goodwill which has made such a difference.
“This is our lives and we’ve got five children. We had jobs before but ever since I was a young girl I wanted to work with animals. The two of us love animals so we stopped doing our jobs, sold the house and we’ve been with animals ever since.”
It’s not just visitors to the farm who enjoy meeting the rare breeds, the experience had been proven to benefit children with ADHD or additional needs and people who are bed bound in care homes.
“We take alpacas to care homes, put them in the lift and they bring a lot of joy to the residents at their bedside, but we’ve not done that for 13 months,” said Tom.
To donate and help the farm and its animals, visit: www.gofund.me/306a27fc.