Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


Leave a comment

Camping with Campers in Nature

This month, Holly our Co-Farmer reporter, spoke to Ann and Rozelle about camping at the farm.  She used the farm brochure for research, learned about the Countryside Code, and also asked a friend of the farm about her camping experience.

 Camping on the Farm from the past
Campers had to book them and maybe a campfire in the website and we are looking forward to welcome you to our Church Farm and with showers and toilets on each field and they decided to rent a cabin or to bring their tents and their cars maybe on the beautiful fields with the camping hill and as many nights as they want and to enjoy it.  In the countryside with the campsite and campfire and barbeques too with map they had all this time.  They went circular farm walk with the farm trail and the wood cabins and the camp beds to blowup for their holiday and wood burning stove and if they want a campfire and to book in advance on they website if they want to.

 “What do campers do? We had an amazing time camping at Church farm. There is lots of space to run around and lots to see. We went for a walk around the village, visited all the animal and fed them, collected eggs. We checked out the farm shop and bought fresh food for our bbq. In the evening we sat around the campfire and watched the moon come up, and we were even lucky enough to watch the space station pass over. J Next time we plan to do more, maybe the tractor ride, or in the spring lamb feeding. There is lots to keep you busy around the farm, plus our son had great fun in the woodland play area.

It was lovely to see all the campfires in the evening and hear all the people enjoying themselves and the children able to run free in the field and enjoy the outdoors.”

Harriet Swindle-Roche

 

Photos by Harriet Swindle-Roche

Present with the Camping
They spend as many nights as they want on their camping hill with their bonfire and made up a story and listen to music before their bedtime till morning and what they had their breakfast. Then just be careful and beware of litter of anything they do, not to drop them on our farm.  Do not do that and jut do it on their own please.  Put it in our bin and don’t drop anymore and please don’t pick any wild flowers either and just leave it and walk away now in the countryside and please follow our rules.

Lie down under the stars and to watch the stars at night time with the bee’s making honey in their hive, in the trees with the birds to lay their eggs, with the butterflies and badgers and bugs to start to come out in the woodland, with the trees and the pond sometimes in the fields.

Future just the Camping Season
To get organised the camping gear and need more animals for our nature in our woodland like rabbits and birds and owls at night time with the stars in the night sky.  Do more in the daytime and get to work with the animals all grown up like lambs and the other animals to be fed and more like a hike round our Church Farm and the Farm Shop and the bottle feed the lambs and the egg collecting and the café to eat, and the pub to drink, and to play on in the woodland.

Holly

 

Rural Care, where care for land and people meet.  Rural Care enables people with learning disabilities and/or mental health issues to work on a farm, learn skills, and make friends.  Working on a farm is a great way to keep healthy, and build confidence and self-esteem.

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

From the Farmer

  • Wet and cold spring has delayed cultivations, planting and the cattle going out into the fields.
  • 6 calves have been born so far this year, and there are 34 more to come!
  • It has been a great month for piglets – 3 litters of 8 going strong. One litter from a 7 year old Berkshire Sow.
  • Once the ground dries up, we will move pig pens to fresh ground.
  • Potatoes were in this time last year. We have two acres still to plant of Cara and Maris Piper.
  • Onion beds are ready and 2 acres to plant by hand soon.
  • We have finally started the planting of 500 summer raspberry canes at the bottom of Vicarage Field.
  • Everything is budding, and hopefully reports of hard late frost are exaggerated like most weather reports seem to be.
  • Unbelievably, its time to order turkey and goose chicks again.

Tim

 


Leave a comment

A Night in the Lambing Sheds

Our ewes have always been kind to us during our lambing season and for the most part lambed during the day.  7.30am breakfast usually kicked things off, and we would have a couple of lambs just after 9am. The 4pm feed would induce the same. This year however, it seems they have decided night time lambing is the way to go. I think the weather has played a part in this decision!

IMG_2559

On one of these nights I take over from another staff member at 7pm. A ewe expecting triplets is lambing. She has the first lamb, and an hour later the next one follows, a very small lamb who appears quite weak. The temperature is dropping and I hope mum can get them cleaned up before they get cold. Its now 9.45 and she delivers the 3rd lamb, this one a little bigger, although it strikes me how small they all are. Its now a fight against time for mum to get all 3 clean and up, colostrum in them before the frost sets in. It’s an anxious time and mum still seems distracted—something isn’t right.  She fusses over them but then keeps walking away and laying down. My first thought is she is tired, or perhaps low in trace elements, something that can occur after lambing. Another hour passes, the longest hour of the night, and I am willing her to get these lambs clean.  If I interfere at this stage it could break the bond. Its 11pm, and I start to wonder if there is another lamb, as the first 3 are small, and she is still distracted. Mum is protective of her brood, but she is tired and lets me have a look—there is a lamb laying in a breach position. She has been unable to deliver it because of its positioning, and it’s a big lamb and needs a bit of encouraging out. Quads! Now it is a race against time to get them all dry and warm, and mum seems overwhelmed.  I help her dry the lambs and get hot water bottles, as their temperatures are dropping and the 2nd lamb is going into shock. The first lamb is up and looking for milk, 15 mins later the 3rd is the same. Lamb number 2 is still down struggling on his front legs.

It feels like we make hundreds of decisions in a day, and I have come to realise that decision making is 90% of what a lambing season entails. The decisions are often hard, sometimes made with your head but more often than not, with your heart, and they are not always the right decisions, but you learn from them. I don’t know what the next 24 hours will hold for these lambs—it’s going to be a struggle.

I sit in the back of the lambing shed, I look to the left in awe of this ewe and her quads, immediately devoted yet overwhelmed.  To the right there is another ewe who is quietly delivering twins, murmuring to them as she delivers. One of my favourite ewes comes and lays down next to me, and I look up at the clear sky and see it’s full of stars.  It’s now midnight, it’s absolutely freezing, but I wouldn’t be anywhere else.

Rozelle

 


Leave a comment

Claire

dsc09879.jpgHave you met Claire?  She is embracing Church Farm with enthusiasm and passion that is contagious!  Growing up on a farm in the Scottish Highlands, where as she says, “rain and snow is every day weather,“ and the first vehicle she ever drove was a tractor, she is feeling right at home here.  Before joining us at Church Farm, she worked for 20 years as a wedding planner.  She adores  her three cats, and enjoys travelling, especially to Costa Rica, as they are 98% sustainable using the rain, volcanoes, rivers and sun, and they produce amazing coffee.  Claire says she loves working here in the fresh air alongside “so many dedicated and hardworking people.”  And so far, her favourite animal is Mike the rabbit.  She has also lived in Gibraltar, and is looking forward to the sunny days, as well.

 

 


Leave a comment

What’s Growing

Eva, who leads our horticulture team, sat down with me, Moles seed catalogue in hand, to talk about what’s growing at Church Farm this year.  As winter might hopefully be drawing to a close, it’s time to get excited about plans for new crops and setting seeds.

This year promises new varieties of traditional crops, Jerusalem artichokes and lots of colour.

At the end of March, Eva and her team had already set 2000 leek seeds and many spinach seeds, had two varieties of mange tout growing, and were ready to begin setting tomato seeds.  Eva says we are a bit behind last year, due to the lingering cold and snow we have had.

Mange tout, the year’s first crop, will come in green and purple.  There will be three varieties of beetroot grown—one in traditional red/purple, a golden one, and a red and white striped variety called Chioggia.  This year’s French beans will be green, yellow, some climbing and some dwarf.  The team will be planting cherry tomatoes (small) and beefsteak tomatoes (large).

This year Church Farm is expecting to produce more strawberries for a longer harvest period, due to last year’s planting.  This year, 500 new summer raspberries will go in, to increase the raspberry yield in coming years.

Last summer, Eva learned about Jerusalem artichokes from an enthusiastic chef in the Jolly Waggoner and will be growing them this year.

Jerusalem artichokes are sweet and almost garlicky and mushroomy and gorgeous. Although called artichokes they’re actually tubers – like rough and ready potatoes. You can scrub and roast them whole like mini jacket potatoes and split them open, drizzled with a little chilli oil. You can even use them in a salad with smoky bacon. A Jerusalem artichoke’s best friends are sage, thyme, butter, bacon, bay, cream, breadcrumbs, cheese and anything smoked.”

—Jamie Oliver

Hopefully, you will enjoy something new this year, alongside the mainstays of lettuce, carrots, parsnips, cucumber, broad beans, runner beans, and courgettes.  Would you like to see these things growing?  Be sure to include horticulture and the polytunnels on your next walk around the farm.  Are you having a weekly delivery from Church Farm?  You can – it’s easy, at churchfarm.shop.

Aimee

veg pics

Photos from Moles Seeds, with permission.