Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Tyler by Day and Night

The tiny robin looked around for breakfast and found some berries.  Wary of the kite above and the pig below he pecked at the fruit before chirping his way off into the fields for hours of play upon the breeze.  Hopping from tree to tree, from ash to oak he spotted his oddball friend the white bluebell amongst its more homogenous (same) brothers and sisters.

We can’t all be the same he thought and admired the will of the flower to be different.  More fields of wild flowers to explore and admire, bees within and around them and acres of blue sky to dive into.

With little mouths to feed and nests to repair he couldn’t play all day but remembering Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach) he knew it was a good use of some of his time.

The big ball in the sky was falling and the smaller one coming over and it was time to tuck his head under his wing and rest.

Tyler has just completed his time on the farm and these photos are a testimony to his love of nature, his own quiet nature and the peace we can sometimes find around us amidst the noise and haste. (Desirderata).

Chicken Dave


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Harmony

When I think of harmony, I think of an orchestra all playing well together.  Although this is not the strict musical definition of harmony (thank you Aimee) it is perhaps the understanding of harmony that many people have.

Trying to keep everyone together and at least reasonably content is the lot of parents, team captains, bosses and politicians as well as world leaders.  It is certainly not an easy thing.

When there is plenty, harmony seems easier to obtain and when resources are short it would make sense that it is more difficult.  However if we look at more difficult times it is often at these times that some people pull together for some greater good.

 Harmony - Lorraine Gemma Hannah

Lorraine, Gemma and Hannah from Rural Care

 

Sharing is certainly not something that comes easily to many people and in some ways it feels unnatural, our instinct for personal survival kicks in and yet as the saying goes “if you travel alone you travel faster but if you travel together you travel further.”

Nature seems to cope very well with harmony, balance and equilibrium despites man’s efforts to intervene nature can adapt and correct itself to cope with much that is thrown at it.

Often when I am pottering around doing a bit of work here and there, I know that cutting a branch will have consequences not only for the tree but for the whole ecosystem that it belongs to.

If I upset one person there will be a ripple effect and if I make a person smile this too will resonate further than its initial impact.

Harmony - football team

French/Anglo relations developing on the football pitch, straw bale and beyond

 

Chicken Dave

 


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Horticulture and Harvest

Sun, Rain, Sweat and Weeds  DSC08286

At Church Farm in horticulture we are outdoing ourselves. We come into a glorious time of the year when just about every seasonal fruit or vegetable is available, or soon will be available, naturally grown. With a kitchen garden, five polytunnels, five acres of soft fruit and heritage orchard, and over five and a half thousand square metres of field crops, it is truly a pleasure to meet the challenge of serving the Church Farm Store, Café, Jolly Waggoner Pub Restaurant, Aldenham Country Park and over 100 Farm Box customers. As we draw breath, we do it with thanks to the small group of amazing dedicated staff and interns from across the world. We couldn’t do it without you.

DSC08285Church Farm is unique in that we invite you to come in and explore where your food comes from; a working farm in a relaxed atmosphere. If you like your fruit and veg we invite you to come and take a tour or simply come in for a wander and see for yourself.

Darren

 

Autumn and an Interview with Eva

Holly and I talked about Autumn and the harvest and interviewed Eva, who works in Horticulture at Church Farm.  Eva says the harvest is starting now.  Look for Church Farm produce in your box or in the shop.

Aimee

We will have a harvest for the barbecue party and DSC08291to play in the leaves and the leaves are dancing in the wind with the birds flying in the strong wind and they do art with the leaves in the craft room. To harvest the strawberries and fruits and the vegetables in the box to delver to everyone in the village and round the farm and be careful of the fence with the wire when it windy and
chilly and strong wind. To change the menu for autumn and to harvest the potatoes and to dig DSC08298up the soil with the potatoes in the bucket and the leaves are falling down from the trees and to put the leaves in the compost for the gardening on the allotment and to rake the leaves up in the Autumn and lots of fun and lots of colours on the leaves are beautiful in Autumn and less of flowers in the winter.

Get more vegetables in October and they do harvest celebration and they cut the DSC08300pumpkins open and the pumpkins turn into orange colour in October for the treats. They have got red currants and pears and all veg everyday a lot of tomatoes and salad and veg for the whole project for a long time in the big garden to prepare the box full of fruits and vegetables for the delivery round the farm.

Holly, Co-Farmer and Reporter

 


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Football, Farm, Fun and Fundraising-July 30th 2016

A once in a lifetime opportunity to remember something special brought together a gathering of footballers from 11 different countries to prepare for, play out, and support a friendly match against a local village side.

Cottered Chairman, Alan Chamberlain brought his team over to take on the Rest of The World and it was a classic mix of think Global and Act Local.  (Friends of the Earth motto).

1966 shirt handover

Chicken Dave and Alan swapping shirts.
 Will with World Cup Willy and Grace with the Jewels Rhyming Trophy

Of course with players from all over the world to choose from The Rest of The World ran out winners but only by the narrowest of margins 2 – 1.

Replicating the World Cup Final of 1966 the red shirted players from the farm conceded first and then went on to equalise thanks to Guillame and the winning goal came from Dejan shortly before half time.

1966 teamwork

The International Team’s goalscorers working in tandem.
Guilliame and Man of the Match Dejan

 

Resisting a lot of pressure in the second half and defending the smaller goal the reds held on to a welcome victory in a match played in the best possible spirit.

Even Pickles lookalikes were amongst the WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends) on the sidelines and for those of you who didn’t know Pickles was the name of the dog who recovered the World Cup when it had been stolen from an exhibition.

1966 Sid Pickles

Pickles (Sid) in a remake of the search for the World Cup

This exhibition of football with an age range of over fifty years from youngest to oldest had strong defensive work from butcher Chris, who didn’t live up to his occupation, alongside the French connection of Theo and Antoine, creative attacking play from Will and Grace aided by the winged wonder Archie and all held together by good team play in the middle of the park from our Argentinian maestro Javier, (No hand of God on this occasion) it was perhaps though the game of the century on the Farm with many thanks to all who got involved one way or another including seamstresses, charity shops, supporters, organisers, farmers and of course the players themselves.

1966 international team

The International Team

Well done England and the Rest of the World, especially Ireland, (Paul) and a huge thank you to Cottered FC for being such good sports.

Her Majesty the Queen was on other business and so Princesses  Su and Emily presented the trophy and the teams are pictured below in front of the Royal Tractor.

1966 teams and royal tractor

Bobby Moore (Grace) with the World Cup Mascot and Trophy

 

N.B. Proceeds from the Quiz raised over £120 and this money will go towards replacing the damaged goal posts at Ardeley St Lawrence Primary School who are training up the next England World Cup winning squad with help from Stevenage Borough.  This scheme will also be supporting numeracy and literacy skills at the school.

1966 french award

Grace presenting Pauline and our French visitors with a different style Jules Rimet Trophy

Thanks to the teams from Wood End, St Martins Wood School in Stevenage who ran out the winners and everyone who helped us enjoy the evening and raise some funds.

 

“They think it’s all over…. It is now.”

Commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme who also flew 100 missions as a WWII pilot!

1966 teams and trophy

They think it’s all over……it is now.

Cottered and The International Team and the famous Coq au Biere Trophy

with World Cup Mascot, Larry The Lion and Grace (Captain for the day).

 

Thank you to:

Tim:  Wembley Owner

Will:  Groundsman

Grace:  International Team Manager

Alan:   Cottered Team Manager

Aimee:  Photographer and Numberer

Javier:  Shirt Supplier

Paul:  International Liason

The Players:  For playing

The Supporters:  For supporting

The Sun:  For shining on us


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We’re Off the Bottle

20160524_134733If you live within a 5 mile radius of the farm you may have heard that we are weaning our hand reared lambs.  Their bleats for milk can be heard far and wide! Weaning is the practice of removing from lambs the milk diet provided by the ewe (or a milk replacement diet).  From the milk diet, lambs are moved onto forage or grain based diets.  The separation can be stressful for ewes, lambs and those of us who are caring for them.

Weaning age varies greatly in the sheep industry. Lambs have been weaned successfully as early as 14 days, while some lambs are allowed to wean naturally, staying with their mums for 6 months or more.  Hand-reared lambs can be successfully weaned from a milk diet at 25 to 30 pounds body weight or when they are 30 to 45 days old. Weaning abruptly is better than offering a diluted milk replacer the last week.

Our hand reared lambs are now 3 months old which is when we usually wean them.  They have had access to grass to forage from the first few days of being alive and have been introduced to grain from a week old. 3 months of feeding 6 times a day is a huge commitment for all of our staff, co-farmers and volunteers and it’s a relief when we make it through and feel confident that they can survive without the milk.

In a natural situation, weaning occurs at approximately 6 months of age, usually in the autumn when the ewes begin returning to estrus (the ewe reproductive cycle). Our male lambs with mums will be separated from the ewes and weaned next, but our female lambs will stay with their mums and wean naturally.

There are several advantages to late weaning. It is more “natural” and results in less stress for the ewe and lambs. There is less risk of the ewe developing mastitis since her milk production has declined significantly by the time the lambs are removed.

For now our lambs are learning to fend for themselves, it’s a tough lesson but their instinct and resilience will hopefully see them though.  In the mean time we have ear plugs on order!

—Rozelle

 


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The Birds and the Bees

Last month, Red Kites, this month, Honey Bees. The variety of the life around us on the farm both human and otherwise can be staggering.

In a colony of bees you may have thousands of these insects taking up their roles in keeping their species going.

  • The Queen Bee, who will spend a lot of time laying a lot of eggs
  • The drone, a lazy, good-for-only-one-thing male
  • The worker, an astonishingly hard working, sterile and short-lived female

Local beekeeper since the age of eleven, Euan Brierley, informed us of some of the facts surrounding these tiny creatures in the midst of Vicar’s Orchard at the end of June.  It turns out that the location is entirely suitable as the inventor of the modern beehive structure most widely used was Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth who patented his design in 1852.  The dimensions of the hives were based on champagne boxes which of course most Vicars will have lying about somewhere!!!

bees - Tyler

Euan with eager intern Tyler and a lot of bees

 

Bees will fly a couple of miles to check out the local environment for their food, and Ardeley is happily filled with gardens of bee friendly flowers.  Euan tells of his own adventures with his father driving up to the North of England with hives in the back of the car in search of nectar and to help pollinate local flora.

We looked inside the hives, both British Standard and Top Bar varieties, one more geared to man’s needs than those of the bees.  Questions rained in about royal jelly, colony level decision making and levels of honey production, beeswax and waterproofing, sugar syrup and organic bee keeping, as well as pollen types and honey intoxication!

 

bees - Istvan

Istvan examining Emma’s Top Bar Hive

 

Euan has avoided the dreaded varoa mite amongst his bees for over four years, and puts it down to only taking what is reasonable, rather than replacing honey with sugar syrup when harvesting the crop.

Many thanks to Euan for his willingness to share his learning and his bees, to Darren for organising our introduction to bees, and Emma for helping to support and extend the farm’s involvement with them.  Also to the interested interns and volunteers who resemble the hard working, worker bees and managed to fit in a class after the usual demands of a day on the farm.

bees - Euan and interns

Darren, Euan, Su, Eva, Tyler, Andy, Amber, Istvan and Viv and some bees!

 

N.B. When the time comes for that talk about the Birds and the Bees it is really a very difficult and rather terrifying example, for a male at least, of the consequences of copulation! As the Queen flies high into the air, to tempt the strongest drone, his success is rewarded by being emasculated on decoupling!

—Chicken Dave

 


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Radio 4 At the Farm

20160609_152750 - c

Adrian from Radio 4

Rural care at Church Farm Ardeley hosted the recording of an BBC Radio 4 All in the Mind programme.

Finding people ready to talk to the reporters was harder than we expected but luckily a few brave volunteers came forward.

Radio 4 recorded here for about 4 hours and talked to 6 people on the farm for a 15 minute part in a programme. It is a real eye opener to see what amount of work goes into making a programme !

I have just listened to the broadcast and, as much as this is my everyday job, I had tears in my eyes listening to the stories of how the farm is helping some of our co-farmers and volunteers, also knowing that so many people’s stories stay untold. They also talked to Rachel Bragg, a leading researcher into the benefits of Care Farming and Green Care and Development Coordinator for Care Farming UK.

The programme is a real testament to the benefits Rural Care and Church Farm offer to our community.

You can hear the podcast on www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07gfjht.

Ann De Bock