Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Where is Farmer Christmas This Year?

This year Farmer Christmas has turned up in Vicars Orchard, miles away from the sheep in Upany where he spent the last festive season.

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Photo by Emma Massie

Almost everyone has a Christmas Tree of some description over the festive season for a few weeks but Farmer Christmas is interested in trees the whole year round.

Especially the fruit trees in the Orchard where he has found more trees than he thought, maybe nearer 800 than 700 which means more work and hopefully more fruit in years to come.

So the children who come and visit Farmer Christmas are helping to keep him company and to help the work in the Orchard where each tree needs to be fed, protected, pruned and generally cared for through the winter months.

Some animals will hibernate and trees are very similar in that they have a rest and wait for the warmer days of Spring to get growing again.

This means that with no leaves or fruit or undergrowth in the way it is the ideal time to get on with those maintenance jobs you have been dying to do.  Stake the trees that need some extra support, repair damaged tree guards to keep the rabbits out, put cow manure around the trees to replace the nourishment that has been taken out.

That is 800 barrows of cow poo! A big pile of poo!  Luckily we have lots of cows.

Also we have lots of visitors who help support the farm and they have been finding trees and having their picture taken with Farmer Christmas and the tree that they have found.

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Photo by Tom Large

It may be Apple or Pear, Quince or Medlar, younger or older, in sickness or in health – oops I think I just slipped into a marriage ceremony!  But the idea is to nurture and cherish the tree as far as possible, so that it too will nurture and cherish us in years to come with beautiful blossom in Spring and fruit in the Summer or Autumn. With a tree hopefully living for 25 years or more it is quite an interesting comparison to a marriage after all.

—Chicken Dave

 

 


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Bats in the Belfry

In Ardeley there is a Church and a Farm.  Bats may well be living in both.

All 18 species of bat found in the UK are protected, as their natural habitats have been disappearing.  As mature trees are cut down, these small creatures, the only flying mammals, need places to live which suit their natural behaviour.

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 A long eared bat eating a meal worm

Caves would be good and holes in trees are ideal so you can see how a large hole in a dark tower holding a bell might work.

As flying is such hard work a bat has to eat a third of its body weight each night to survive, and that might mean 3,000 midges!!!

As part of the conservation work on the farm, bat boxes can be seen and hedgerows still exist and provide plenty of food stuff for bats on their nocturnal ventures.  Bats can see, but they hunt at night and use echolocation to find their prey and avoid flying into trees at high speed.

Man has made use of this technique to develop sonar and has invented bat detectors which convert the sounds bats make, which we are unable to hear, into something we can hear.

Only three species of bats eat blood and none are found in Transylvania at all, so Bram Stoker may have made up some of his book involving a certain Count Dracula.  Thankfully, those three species are also not found in the UK, so those of us sleeping at the Farm can sleep safely in our beds!!!!!!

 

Chicken Dave