Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience

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Wednesday Walkies with Sid the Sheepdog

Sid the Sheepdog joins the Police.

Sid the Sheepdog joins the Police.

Sid the Sheepdog was on a roll, following the success of SidSA the Academy for Sheepdog training that people were joining as well as dogs he was headhunted by the local police force to help in their fight to reduce Rural Crime.

Even at his joining ceremony above you can see how vigilant he is and he is on his first case.

The Case of The Missing Laptops.

Sometimes when things are going well life gives you a bit of a reminder that it isn’t always rosy.  In this case the farm got burgaled.

The two legged ones were all a bit grumpy today and it turns out that they had lost some things, well actually it turns out that someone or something had taken some things.laptop

Further investigation showed that some things called laptops had gone.  Of course people used to have lapdogs or those funny furry creatures called cats but now it turns out they have weird electrical gizmos that they put on their laps!!! Humans!!!

The police are famous for their German Shepherd dogs and although they didn’t bring one to the farm Sid knew they would need his help.

His Wednesday Walk turned into a Sniff and Search compiling a database of scents to trace down the culprit or culprits.

sniffer dog

The scents were fresh and his nose twitched away before meeting his two legged colleagues from the Stevenage Scene of Crimes Unit.

He is now hoping to get his picture in the local press to ask the public for their help.


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Wednesday Walkies with Sid the Sheepdog

The SidSA goes TransAtlantic

The SidSA goes TransAtlantic


This week Chicken Dave got a bit forgetful and turned up on Thursday but with a whole bunch of people from American and British universities who wanted to learn about the Sid Sheepdog Academy.

It was gratifying that his Academy was now working with esteemed Universities from around the World and helping young people to appreciate dogs.

I ended up getting to train about six students, guiding them around the Vicars Orchard, where they were helping the farm with some tree feeding.

One of the Five Scarecrows on the Farm overseeing the tree Feeding by UNCW University of North Carolina Wilmington. Photograph by Merrick

One of the Five Scarecrows on the Farm overseeing the tree feeding by UNCW, University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Photograph by Merrick


They were all much more attractive than Chicken Dave and younger so I gave them a good run about.

We introduced them to the flat noses (pigs) and the chickens (who don’t look anything like Chicken Dave), the lambs and the runner ducks where they practised a bit more herding.  Pretty good they were too.

Sid and Chicken Dave in Vicars Orchard. Photograph by Merrick.

Sid and Chicken Dave in Vicars Orchard
Photograph by Merrick

The Farm has asked me if I can extend my contract to work on Sunday as well this week so that means more biscuits.

It’s All Good.



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Reflections on Mothers Day at the Farm

mum and present

Once a year we set aside a day to really thank our mothers for all the work they have put in on our behalf.

I have been told that it is not until you become a parent yourself that you truly understand what that entails.

Well, at the end of another Mother’s Day at the Farm, I understand it a bit more.

tugging on mum

My last act of the day was to feed six hungry lambs, in the cold and without a proper woolly coat.

They kept sucking bits of me to try and get milk out but had to settle for the bottle which while effective probably isn’t quite the same.

Then they wanted to clamber all over me for a bit of fun while I was looking to get some sleep, not much chance of that.


Farm life is tough, up early, cold, lots of tasks to achieve, animals to keep alive and people to keep happy.

Staff and volunteers to encourage and nurture and visitors to inspire and delight.

Chicken Dave doing what Mothers the world over do, all day, every day.

Chicken Dave doing what Mothers the world over do, all day, every day.

One of my favourite mothers came to the farm today as a Mother’s Day surprise and she was booked in to feed the lambs.  What a lovely thing to see a family grow up with a new little dog to look after and help to pass on those nurturing skills.

Delilah rushing over to meet Sid.

Delilah rushing over to meet Sid.

hug mum

Another of my favourite mothers is moving away and we won’t see her again for a while with her stick loving children.

The idea of family is what continually grows on me whilst I survive on the farm and it was beautifully summed up in a testimonial from one of our many hardworking interns.

family and sun

“People see the best and worst of me and still accept me.”

Something I suspect most mothers would be nodding their heads at but replacing the word accept with love.


love mum

So for all of you who brought mums to the farm, the pub, the café, the lambs thank you and Happy Mother’s Day.



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Wednesday Walkies with Sid the Sheepdog

Sid the Sheepdog after his Off the Lead experience.

Sid the Sheepdog after his Off the Lead experience.

“Ruff” said Side the Sheepdog as he was shocked and disappointed at the way some people just ignore important things like the Countryside Code. On this occasion it was his pupil Chicken Dave and there was only one thing for it, he would have to teach him the lesson.

Gates in the countryside are of course very important to keep humans out of places that belong to animals.  If the animals allow the humans to come and visit they are expected to wipe their feet and close the gate behind them.


Poor old Dave the Chicken was to learn a lesson he would not easily forget.

The first Wednesday Walk of March 2016 got off to a bad start with this breach of etiquette and instead of putting Chicken Dave on the lead Sid decided he would go free range this week.

Out of the open gate and into the world of complete freedom, no pupils to worry about and time to have a bit of fun.

Time to check out if Tony the Butcher has left me any food at the butchery before CD realises what he has done.

Nothing, but it is always worth checking, here comes that familiar call…

blue ballSid, where are you?” called Chicken Dave not using his nose again! To give him credit though he did think of bringing two of my favourite things; biscuits and a bouncy creature they call a ball.  Clearly he hasn’t realised though that freedom and teaching people about the countryside code is even more important.


So I toyed with him for a while, collecting biscuits along the way and teasing him into thinking he might be able to catch me…ridiculous thought.

He went asking other people including a little girl and her mother if they had seen a sheepdog and they had spotted me in the butchery again. Time for a quick and nimble escape and back off into the land of freedom, what fun.

The smell of the butchery though has some sort of mysterious power over me and I think I may have been drugged as I began to follow the Chicken Man towards the Café.

Feeling a bit drowsy I was presented by two of my other favourite things both beginning with S for and sausage

Su and Sausage.  I felt a bit weak and fell into her arms as she fed me one of those funny Flat Nose Fingers and it had all been worthwhile.


Chicken Dave looked a bit upset but he won’t leave the gate open again, I got a sausage and good run about without any responsibility for a change.

Humans can be such hard work.

See you all next week.