Hello - Rod and I (Cathy) run Exmoor Owl & Hawk Centre and Exmoor Riding at West Lynch Farm. This is a small business and we have a couple of helpers throughout the year to assist piece our complicated jigsaw together - when you visit you will probably meet Hayley, our horse lady and assistant manager, and John our maintenance man and animal carer. We make a great team, and as no two days are alike there is a lot of variety and fun in their daily work.
Over the last couple of years we have been restructuring the business into one that we love doing, and enjoy sharing with others. When you visit you may find a few changes if you have been before, but we are aiming to give a greater quality and personal experience, and one that is unique and different to any other in the world. We love the challenge, and hope that you will enjoy your visit or stay with us when you come.
When I visit other places I am always fascinated by the people behind the concept, and how they arrived at the place they are in, so now is time to share a little of our stories - both varied, complex and hopefully inspiring others struggling to 'discover' themselves. I always tell people that it can take years to discover what you really want to do with life, but you should always experiment and let it all evolve. Who knows what we will be doing in twenty years from now - twenty years ago I cenrtainly did not think I would be working with horses in the way that I am now!
Rod joined me at the farm in 2007. He too had gone through a painful seperation and had three children of the same age as my two girls.
Rod's history is one of great variety having worked in many different kinds of industry, from farming, furniture repair & restoration, accountancy to social work, and latterly as a free-lance peripatetic African drummer around primary and secondary schools in the Midlands, having taken time out to visit Ghana in West Africa. As you can see from my story below, many of his tick boxes match up to mine - but he had NEVER worked with animals!
However, he was brave after meeting me to leave his past behind, and put all his energies into helping run the Centre. This was indeed a bold decision, as without him committing to this huge task, I doubt either of us would be here today. He started by trying to understand the principles of bird training, and applying some of his knowledge and experience in working with people, and today he is having huge success in the methodology he uses in handling and flying the birds, and people come from all corners of the world to watch and interact with our beautiful birds. He also assists with the day to day management of the Centre, and all its maintenance and repairs on a constant basis. Rod also has good photographic and computer skills, good communication and teaching skills, so between the two of us we make a good 'all round' team!
Shortly after Rod arrived, and for my 60th Birthday when my Mother was still fit and well, (2012) I decided to create a display in the barn to show my recognition for her being my greatest light in my life and to share my experiences with our visitors. Rod had always hugely loved and respected his Mother too, and like me felt that in our younger years none of us appreciate the huge influence our Mothers have on our lives and development. In its own way the following display is a tribute to all our Mothers around the world.
This display is still on the walls of the Owl Barn, which you are welcome to visit, but I have reproduced it below to tell my story (with one or two changes and additions!)