Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Graduating from the Farm

Many people come and go from the farm, some having stayed for a short time and some for much longer.  Something brings them and perhaps something else takes them away.

There is a time though that pre-ordained or not lets them know that their time is coming to an end and they will reflect on what they have seen or been a part of and look forward to what is to come. Memories of difficult times will take on a softer hue and impossible situations seem hilarious with the benefit of distance.

Friends may have been made from different cultures and first time experiences will have been shared many miles from home.  Different foods will have been tasted and different ways of living lived.  England may not be Church Farm but Church Farm is certainly part of England.

Now the summer is over people will be returning home with tales to tell, Nutella to look forward to and a chance to speak to people in their own language again.

This year for example we have enjoyed Anna’s company who has now applied for a job in the Caribbean and is currently picking grapes with her family in Sicily.  Ana from Spain is back to her studies in Barcelona along with all of our French visitors including Hanna.

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Anna and Javier

The lovely Amber has got herself a job with a university having found out that people more than plants were her thing and Eva has enjoyed a trip to Greece and to see her beloved family.

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Hanna and Ashley and a Chicken

 Su will soon be off on her travels again leaving Dejan and Javier to look after the Cupcake Café where Pauline spent her first visit to England with Anna.

Merrick is doing loft conversions and Carl has returned to the world of advertising while Stuart continues to caramelise onions and Drew entertains and feeds the people of Guatemala.

grad-stuart

Stuart in his whites, and blacks

 Texas Tom will soon be returning to the US to get married and leaves behind another array of remarkable pieces of carpentry that will provide comfort and shelter for those he may never get to meet.

Ashley will soon be in the Navy and Ben may never get back on his bike again.

Julia returns to Germany and may even stop on the way back to take another look at St Albans!

grad-three-girls

Hungarian Bori, German Julia and French Elina sharing a sofa.

How she will miss English rural transport and perhaps baked beans and tomato ketchup!!

Chicken Dave

 

 

 

 


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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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George Orwell and the Jolly Waggoner

JWNot everyone is aware of history but a village has it’s tales of the past as much if not more than other places.  Things of truth and legend spread quickly, get embellished over a pint or two and then grow into epic stories of derring do.

The Jolly Waggoner which is also run by Church Farm and indeed by Tim’s brother Adrian has a long history and like the Church and the School and the Farm is a hub of social gatherings.

It is also a place of learning and earning with a new apprentice in place.

school hippo

 

 

Hippocrates revisiting his old school in Ardeley.

 

 

church harvest

 

 

 

 

 

Religion and Science side by side!

 

 

 All of us struggle at times, and some have more things to struggle against than others, and the farm and country life has an attraction and compassionate space for those who may be finding the urban life too difficult.

It is not unlike A Place of Refuge, a beautiful book by Tobias Jones, about setting up a piece of woodland and then opening it up to those who feel attracted for one reason or another.

George Orwell, the famous author of Animal Farm, who lived for many years in nearby Wallington, also wrote about his experience of being a kitchen porter in Down and Out in Paris and London.

It was from this humble role that people can move on, like Liam, one of our previous interns, who has now gone on to open his own restaurant in St Neots.  Stuart has now joined the team under Adrian’s tutelage and with support from North Herts College and was recently heard to say “the kitchen should be the cleanest room in the house.”  For a young man making his way in the world this was quite an insight and sign of his progression in a short space of time since coming to the farm.

washing up bunny

Washing up for how many!!!!

 More history could also be in the making from the Jolly Waggoner with secret talks about recreating the heady days of 1966 when England won the World Cup and mutterings of helping the school replace its broken goal posts with a charity replaying of the epic final.

Anna football

Anna displaying her football skills born thirty years after England’s victory.

Where were you fifty years ago?

 With apologies to residents and owners of the Village Green the training pitch has been removed to Squitmore Spring, an ancient field of couch grass, now beginning to resemble a piece of England’s Green and Pleasant Land.

world cup trophy

 

 

The Jules Rimet Trophy or World Cup.

 


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Going into Space with a Goat!

Many people will know that the Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space but before he made his epic journey to look at our beautiful planet a dog had been there first.

earth

Our one and only Planet Earth

Leika was the name of that dog and it’s journey is noted in the lovely film “My Life as a Dog” this is one of Sid the Sheepdogs favourite films.

Istvan and Sid

Sid training one of the police team (Istvan, who works on the farm)

Fred is our Pygmy Goat who can be pretty fierce for a pygmy and it’s best to keep your eye on him at all times.

Fred

What strange eyes you have, Grandma!

The Spacegoats we are talking of here are a local band who have played at the Jolly Waggoner at our Open Mic night last year and again at our Awards evening at the beginning of April.

Awards night

The Spacegoats and some of our Award Winners at the Jolly Waggoner

They were brilliant and helped good evenings become great ones.  Peter the German intern who has recently returned home used to say that everything is improved with music and he may be on to something there.

So thank you to Peter and the Spacegoats and Fred.

Peter and rabbit

Aug Wiedersehen Pet (e)

The White Rabbit says a Big Thank You to one of the hardest working and most talented interns it is possible to meet.

 

 


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You Can’t Bleat It

lamb course class

The first of our two lambing experience groups saying goodbye to their infants

Somehow the lambs get to everybody and perhaps this year even more than last.

24 little ones running around Home Field needing to be fed five times a day is exhausting, so thank you to everyone who came to help us and we have a pretty good idea that is was something that you enjoyed too.

This year in addition to the lamb feeding we had the chance to run a couple of classes for those interested in the delivery of the lambs and I think it is fair to say that these days were a real delight and also insight into the hard work put in by all our shepherdesses through the season.

We have had early morning and late night shifts going on until every ewe had given birth, with a particular eye on multiple births and first time mums.

So much of this unseen work goes on to bring people their food, and while it is very hard work, the peace and tranquillity of spending time around Long Bottoms Field is something rather special.

lamb course sheep

One Shepherdess in particular stands out in her contribution to our lambing season and beyond, and who, sadly for us, will be leaving the farm, but happily for us will be working at our sister site in Aldenham.

That is Charlotte, who is constantly cheerful, brilliant with both people and animals, and gets up to look after her horses while even the rest of us early risers are still in bed.

Remarkable, and a remarkable achievement this year, again, by the whole group of people, and of course sheep who have helped us through such a challenging time of year.

lamb course Charlotte middle

Charlotte in her special trousers in the centre with Sheep and Shepherd/esses

lamb course bags

Emergency rations!

 


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Many Happy Returns

Some Birthdays we like to remember, some we like to forget but usually somewhere along the way we will celebrate them in one way or another.

Tim the Farmer reached his 50th birthday recently and tried to keep it fairly quiet but word got out and he had a few surprises.

Tim Roger tractor - Copy

Tim wondering why no one had wrapped up his Birthday present!

These included a Special Edition of this newsletter with photos supplied by his family to embarrass him.  A group of students fed 50 trees for him in the Vicars Orchard, and he had at least two surprise cakes with the big 50 written on them.

Uni challenge group

Students from North Carolina wishing Tim a Happy Birthday.

Tim and some of his friends spent the night in some of the cabins on the farm and then found their way to the café for breakfast.

Another of our visitors had other ideas and booked dinner in the Jolly Waggoner but her guests had to earn their dinner with a good walk around the farm after some spectacular duck herding.

herding ducks

Magnificent duck herding by this birthday group.

The farm is getting busier now with lamb feeding, butchers and farmers for the day getting unique experiences, often for a birthday and children’s parties heading off on farm tours on the trailer to feed the animals.

lamg and toy

Lots of birthdays on the way for those Airies
amongst you and also for many of our lambs.

For all of you with birthdays coming up under the sign of the Ram we would like to wish you a very happy birthday.


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Wednesday Walkies with Sid the Sheepdog

Sid the Sheepdog bounding through the Bluebells on the Circular Walk

Sid the Sheepdog bounding through the Bluebells on the Circular Walk

A lovely Wednesday morning and Sid was playfully running about amongst the beautiful bluebells that can be seen from the Circular Walk at the Farm. They won’t be there for much longer so he was keen to enjoy them while he could.

Meanwhile it appears that Chicken Dave had become a proper dog person and before they set off he had bought Sid a present.

Su showing Sid his present from Chicken Dave

Su showing Sid his present from Chicken Dave

During their perimeter security walk the three of them had bumped into some old friends of Chicken Dave who were doing a health walk for their hearts.

The Christchurch Cardiac Walkers from Hitchin had taken a day out from their art classes to come and see some bluebells and if you look closely you can just see them in the distance. (Sid of course could still smell them quite easily).

 

The good and sheltered pathway makes for a pleasant walk around the farm

The good and sheltered pathway makes for a pleasant walk around the farm