Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


Leave a comment

From the Farmer

  • We are way behind in planting this year and the ground is a real challenge, having baked hard on top, it is wet underneath still.
  • Cows finally went out on 18th April a month later than last year. So far we have 9 male calves and 1 female born. Thirty to come !
  • Cattle can be viewed from the footpaths around the farm and rotate across 4 fields moving about every 3 weeks.
  • Pig pens to move to new ground as soon as we can. Then we plant mustard, then plough that in and grow vegetables, as it acts as green manure and stops nitrogen leaching out of the soil.
  • 25 white leghorn (white birds, white eggs), 25 Cuckoo Marans (Speckeldy very dark brown eggs), and 25 Light Sussex (White bird, brown eggs) have joined the flock in the Walnut Orchard.

 —Tim

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

New Chef, New Menus

Have you had a meal in the pub recently?  At the end of April I sat down with Aaron Clarke, the new executive chef for Church Farm, including the Jolly Waggoner, Café and Shop.  He was born and raised in Milton Keynes and came to us not long ago, and has brought along a team he has worked with for the past couple years.  He is producing menus for the pub and café, and producing food for the shop.

chef Aaron

His training has been on-the-job, including time with Michelin star chef Clive Dixon in Cookham at the White Oak and at the “best pub in England,” the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, and also told me that his brother, Shane, has been a huge influence on his career in catering. Aaron held a Rosette at the Deddington Arms in Oxfordshire.  He has been a chef for 10 years and has produced menus for seven years and comes to us with experience, enthusiasm, and a strong work ethic.

Aaron is confident that you will notice improvements at the Jolly Waggoner in the coming months, and would love to speak with you when you are in the pub.  His focus is the customer’s experience, and he wants you to have a good one.  He is committed to growth and improvement.

He wants everyone to know that the pub menu features produce from the farm and is the best it can be.  The quality of the ingredients in all our kitchens is assured, because we can see it all growing and grazing.  You will find a varied menu at the pub, with vegetarian and gluten free choices. He tells me there will be a new menu in the café soon, as well.

Perhaps I can tempt you with a sampling of items from the current pub menu:

Nibbles:  Lamb Scrumpets and Crispy Pork Bites

Starters:  Gin Cured Salmon and Cauliflower and Worcestershire Fritters

Traditional Classics:  Fish and Chips, and Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie

Mains:  Beetroot Rissoto, and Church Farm Loin of Lamb

Gin cured salmon

Gin Cured Salmon

 

Aimee

 


Leave a comment

Lambing 2018

There has been lots of activity down in the lambing sheds this year with 106 lambs being born! We officially finished the season on Saturday 21st of April with a lovely set of Suffolk triplets. It is always bittersweet when lambing finishes as there is no longer the anticipation, surprise and excitement of new arrivals each morning. But there is also relief as the long nights waiting and worrying about ewes in labour and newborn lamb troubles are over for another year.

Our public lamb bottle feeding activity has been as popular as ever again! Our Co-Farmers have really enjoyed feeding the lambs that were not fed during the public sessions, with many taking responsibility to make up the milk and making sure the bottles were cleaned after every use.

As we are a working farm it is never a good idea to have favourite animals but it is very difficult sometimes! A huge staff favourite this year is Swede. He was the first lamb to be born on our site this year and also the first Church Farm lamb who needed to be bottle fed! Swede’s mum was a first time mum, who can often have difficulties delivering and bonding with their lambs. She had delivered the lamb all by herself but another pregnant ewe came over and started cleaning him up. This caused Swede’s mum to become very confused and reject him! We tried all the tricks like rubbing Swede with straw, rubbing the afterbirth and fluids back on him but Mum still didn’t want to know. She ended up becoming aggressive towards Swede and the decision was made for us to remove him. He is now 7 weeks old and is the leader of all the bottle fed lambs! As you can see by the pictures he is growing into a big lad!

lamb photos for may

We now have the mammoth task of looking after 106 rapidly growing and ever exploring lambs! It is a good job we have the help of the Co-Farmers to assist us with this! At times it is very hard work and often stressful but when the sun is shining and 106 lambs are running and jumping around the field we look around and think—it wasn’t that bad, roll on next year!

Kelly

 


Leave a comment

He Did It!

Yes, he did it, and we are all very proud.  Tony Hopkins completed the hottest London Marathon on record with a respectable time and collected over £3000 for Rural Care.  Both achievements are very impressive.  Thank you, Tony!

Tony with medal.jpeg

In Tony’s Words

I ran my fourth London Marathon on the 22 April, although the last one was 5 years ago!! I have been training throughout the winter and three weeks ago we even had snow, and yet it was predicted to be a hot one. As the big weekend approached, it look at if it was cooling down for the Marathon. However, in the morning the sun was out, with not a sign of any clouds, and it reached 24.2° C—the hottest London Marathon on record.

We were warned not to try beat any PB (personal best times) and take plenty of water.  There was extra showers put around the course and we were told to revaluate our race.

The race was started by the Queen and soon we were on our way.  Immediately there were people looking hot and complaining about the weather.  The sun brought the crowds out and I had the most amazing time being cheered on by the thousands of people lining the streets from mile one to the end.

31131458_10216565451674694_6212307247452651520_n

I was feeling strong and took the advice of water and didn’t even look at my time, however I was surprised I completed half by 2 hours 11 minutes. By the 18th mile there seemed to be people falling all over the place.  I witnessed 4 people lying on the ground with medical staff around them with oxygen which is scary to see, and then people being sick and people stopping as you were trying to run. This immediately had a negative effect on my mind set and although I was trying to stop those thoughts, I found myself starting to walk at this point. The crowds were fantastic and I managed to see many of my family and friends around the course which got me over the finishing line in under 5 hours.  Although I was, admittedly, a little disappointed with the time, I was proud of myself completing it and reflected on the money I had raised for Rural Care and how I felt so much in a better in myself physically and mentally.

31036941_10216558647144585_6655776798451695616_n


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.

 


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