A community farm on Portland has issued a ‘use it or lose it’ appeal to the public as it struggles to make ends meet, writes Alex Cutler.

Fancy’s Farm is run by Su and Jon Illsley and is home to a menagerie of different animals, including Portland Sheep, miniature horses and wallabies.

However, Mr Illsley has revealed the extent of the farm’s financial struggles.

He said: “It’s that time of year when the farm really struggles financially. This week we have only had a few visitors and only taken £20 or so.

“We are open every day until 4pm so please visit and help us to continue. It’s your farm and it would be a great loss to lose it but it might happen without your help.”

This is some way off covering the farm’s monthly costs, which the couple claims is around £3,000 each month. This includes all feed, bedding, hay, straw, utilities, insurance and staffing costs.

Mrs Illsley says the farm has been struggling since September, and puts much of the blame on the weather: “We have used our entire winter straw budget already due to the wet weather that has been seemingly constant since September. The wet weather has had a massive impact on visitor numbers which knocks onto our income in a big way.”

She also said that the further unexpected deaths of six of the farm’s goats, which died after choking on discarded dog poo bags, further exacerbated the situation because of the disposal and treatment costs that arose from this.

Read more: Six goats die in Dorset after eating dog poo bags

However, Jon Illsley thinks that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the upcoming General Election has had a drastic impact on the farm’s visitor numbers: “I think that people are so distracted and uncertain by what’s going on politically in the UK that they are less inclined to visit and spend money at the moment.

“I built Fancy’s Farm as much for everyone’s enjoyment as for the animals, the farm without visitors to me is only half the farm.”

Su says the farm has already had pledges of support from various local businesses, but they still need visitors and donations to keep the farm going over winter.

You can sponsor an animal for £20 per year or donate via PayPal to donations@fancysfarm.co.uk.

Originally published in Dorset Echo