Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Who Cares About the Countryside?

Over the last couple of months I have been working with other organisations whose role it is to care about the natural world and more specifically the countryside around us.

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Kenny Mackay is a wonderful man, full of fun and mischief and with an eye for doing things to help nature along the way. He works for the Countryside Restoration Trust, an organisation whose mission is to help nature and man live together in mutually beneficial ways. Kenny was a mine of useful information and the Trust support farms to fulfil their obligations to the natural world and maintain their own survival.

Remarkably, Kenny and I have both done the same training course with the lovely people at Capel Manor College, who run Countryside Management courses, which include the safe use of chain saws in their Forestry and Arboriculture schools.

Working in the heart of Panshanger Forest with ancient trees was a wonderful insight into the commercial usage of trees as well as the magnificent setting and integration of the mix of creatures all dependent one upon the other.

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An oak tree can support around 1,000 other species and I was fortunate enough recently to watch barn owls swooping down from their man made homes to devour voles which had come to live in the long grass left to grow on a privately owned piece of land.

An oak tree of course grows from a tiny acorn and this interest in nature, if sparked at an early age, can feed a person from the cradle to the grave, growing in its diversity, depth and appreciation.

Recently Rozelle and I have been invited to Hollybush School to watch their Farm Rap and this example of outdoor education for a group of 31 children from winter through to the summer has been an example of the impact this type of education can have. (see School Visit and Job Well Done)

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There are indeed lots of people out there who care about the Countryside. Thank God.

Chicken Dave

 

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Hollybush School Farm Visits

Over the course of this academic year we have visited Church Farm Ardeley half termly.   Children were carefully selected from years 1–6, ages 5-11years old, who were deemed as most likely to benefit most from a broader educational opportunity.

Hollybush photo

The children have been exposed to a wide range of experiences over four seasons and through carefully planned activities they began to understand how the farm works on an ongoing cycle. Tasks ranged from planting strawberries in winter, which they then harvested and weighed, ready to be sold in the farm shop in summer. They saw large amounts of turkeys in autumn and noticed how they had gone in the spring. However new chicks had arrived in the summer to replenish the stocks. Children made the connection to Christmas. They saw how pregnant ewes were categorised, then newborn lambs arrived which they were able to bottle feed during a subsequent visit. In the summer they then helped to collect the shorn fleeces and attempted weaving, making their own mat.

The children were most animated by the chickens. The journey from being slightly wary during the first visit, culminated in them confidently entering the field and the sheds, happily picking up chickens, feeding them and collecting eggs freely. They learned how to categorise the eggs, preparing them to be sold.

The children were so open to the new and amazing hands-on experiences offered to them. They were guided expertly but sensitively by Rozelle and Dave who adapted activities for younger and older children, answering even the most obscure questions posed.

The children never ceased to amaze me. They pick up on things which we as adults don’t see, finding opportunities which we look past, and Dave and Rozelle embraced this to the fullest. For example when a child found a stick which he reluctantly left at the farm in Dave’s care, Dave transformed this seemingly inanimate object into a character which we hope will become a published book.

The impact of these farm visits, although hard to measure in terms of educational assessment, has been a privilege to witness. Children who struggle academically, have found something to get excited about and excel at. One practitioner who had supported a child in school throughout the year, commented that she had never heard the child speak so much and with so much enthusiasm as when she joined the children during the summer visit to the farm. Several teachers have commented on how animated the children are and how much they want to talk about each visit, which for some is a great achievement in terms of speech and language. They have also been able to relate to their journey on the farm in school, where there has been a connection to the farm in their work . In these cases the children who can struggle in the classroom, have seen themselves as experts, and in some cases have been quite vocal. Children have experienced unequivocal success through practical, ‘real’ experiences which have given them confidence and boosted their self-esteem outside the classroom; it is something which has truly humbled me.

We very much hope that these children will continue to benefit from these farm visits in academic years to come.

Our heartfelt gratitude to Rozelle and Dave. Every child deserves to find success and something to be animated about. Our farm visits have certainly provided a catalyst to help towards that goal.

Nicky Lawson

 


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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: Fin’s Last Adventure

Doomsday Parts 1,2,3 and 4

May 31st 2017

National Walking Month

A beautiful blue sky greeted Doomsday with birds singing and hearts beating.

Instead of imagining Paradise the Fin Family decided to greet the possible ending of the world with a trip to Paradise.

Actions speaking louder than words they planned their trip and set off to a land of Wonder to the gardens of their friend Henry Moore.

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Art and Nature Together

The fabulous photographers of Bishops Stortford Photographic Society adopted Fin as their model with the following results:-

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Fin with the Double Oval

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Wow

 

Your stick certainly is very popular, once we’d finished taking our pictures with it, we propped the stick up against the Double Oval as agreed. About an hour or so later I returned to my car just as a young family turned up with a little girl proudly holding ’the Stick’. I did a bit of a double take and thought… I recognise that stick!!  When I asked how they came across the stick, the Mum explained that her daughter had found it and wouldn’t put it down, even though she’d asked her to leave it on several occasions.

So feeling quite bad I explained it was a famous stick and should really be returned to the Foundation. Fortunately without fuss the little girl handed the stick over to her Dad who duly took it back to your reception.

Hopefully you got your stick back okay?? If not, then please enjoy our pictures of it 🙂

Many thanks
Andy

 

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Fin with Reclining Figure Draped and a Clear Blue Sky

 

Part 2

Fin awoke from his dreams of Paradise and realised they still only had 24 hours to save the World!

He called Josh the Guerilla Gardener who launched the final Seed Bomb into the air with a mighty throw.

The small clay ball flew through the air in a great arc plummeting towards the earth as Fin himself had plummeted only a month before.  Below something came into view, a small boy swinging a stick, the ball of clay fell, the stick swung, the ball fell, the stick swung and then they coincided, the small boy invented cricket or baseball in a moment and the ball of clay went flying once more on its journey further than it had ever flown before.

To another planet, another world, where huge monsters could be defeated by tiny children and where right overcame wrong and where happiness reigned.

The ball soared into the atmosphere while Fin hopped off to the dentist to get some roots attached with another Angel before meeting up with Sue for breakfast before the final battle approached.

 

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Fin getting some roots

 

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Another Angel

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Another Sue Another Angel

Doomsday Beckons.

 

Part 3

Battles have been fought throughout time with good and evil on eitherside, peace or war?

From sticks to guns and beyond.

Defence and Attack a blurry line.

Fin raced back in time to see what it had been like in the so called Great War from 1914 – 1918, he found horror and humanity but not in equal measure.

One hundred years ago, a whole century has passed in Fin time since this grave battle and memories have faded but there are some things that are not easy to forget.

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Fin trying on a Gas Mask

 

In the battles of long ago people used to gas each other and so everyone had to wear a mask so they could breathe. (Fin had been told that Trees too help us to breathe, he was rather proud of this).

Many, many people lost arms and legs, called limbs, just like the branches of a tree.

Many also died and Fin and Sue met the grand-daughter of one such soldier, Private Buck.

He had died at the infamous battle of Ypres and his body was found by a German soldier who found a photo of Private Buck’s family in his uniform.  He kindly took it to the Red Cross who sent it back to his family so they would know of his fate and 100 years later Fin would see the wooden box that Private Fin had prepared for his time away at war.

Sue recalled that her grandfather had done the same and the small group felt a tiny bit of the horror that must have faced these men.

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Fin with Sue and the Granddaughter of Private Buck

 

 

Part 4

The post traumatic stress from combat or other difficult occurrences haunt many people late into their lives from their earliest days and it was down to the children and sticks of Hollybush School to keep this to a minimum.  They had prepared the way, the Good Way, now they could only watch as the tiny clay ball descended towards earth at great speed, over the town of Hertford, over Hollybush School and on towards The Bad Way where the giants of oppression and opponents of freedom waited.

Brilliantly aimed the ball smashed directly into its target, the head of the cursed enemy breaking it into tiny pieces while all around it the ball of clay broke open spreading the store of tiny seeds across the land of waste.

The rains would come and with the compost as food the seeds would surely flourish and blossom in the weeks, months and years to come.

With careful nurturing each seed would accomplish everything it could and shine brightly into the world around it.

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Where it all began

 

As for Fin he would return to his beloved family, Fiona and Little Fin and fight no more.

Dr Finlay, as we know would not last the month, the poison from the sting of the Killer Queen reaching its target before June would begin.

On the wooden box that was made for him it read that he had died of a broken heart and a list of words all beginning with Su…..

The flowers would grow around his grave in many colours and then one day something fell from the sky………!

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The End or in French Le Fin.

Thanks to Dr Finlay, Fin and the children of Hollybush School,

Tomorrow would be another day.

—Dr Finlay Who
May 31st 2017


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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: Josh the Guerilla Gardener

Fin’s Thirtieth Adventure

Bombs Away

May 30th 2017

National Walking Month

Six Bombs prepared, five launched and one delivered to the Guerilla Gardener of the Future.

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Night was closing in, even in The Place Where Time Stands Still darkness creeps in to test the resilience of the strongest souls.

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Their work now was done, now only Time itself would tell them if they, the children of Holly Bush School had saved the Planet.

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Fin, Fiona, Dr Finlay and Little Fin, sat back exhausted.  Dr Finlay’s face was pale and he would not see out the month but he would live to tell if they had been successful.

What of Josh their newest and most wonderful of friends, he had found the cards they had sent, Create the World, and had Faith, the Second of the three great values, that he would help them in their purpose.  Freedom for all, the insects, the animals, the trees, the birds and the hearts that beat throughout the pulsating planet.

Now all they could do was wait and perhaps imagine what paradise might look like.

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What would tomorrow bring?

Doomsday Beckons.

—Dr Finlay Who
May 30th 2017

 

 


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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: The Sting of the Killer Queen

Fin’s Twenty Ninth Adventure

The Seed Bombs are Ready

May 29th 2017

National Walking Month

 

The Place Where Time Stands Still was full of action, the children of Holly Bush School protecting the trees and fruit of the future from the enemies from the evil empire.

But something was badly wrong, Dr Finlay was limping, “What is it Dr Finlay?” asked Fin nervously.

“Its nothing” lied Dr Finlay before collapsing in a heap.

“What is it?” repeated Fin.

“She stung me, the Killer Queen stung me.” He gasped as he struggled for breath.

“What does that mean?” questioned a rather troubled Fin.

“It means I only have moments to live” replied Dr Finlay.

Fin sat down trying to understand what was happening.

“You must help me defeat this evil before I die” said Dr Finlay.

The month is closing out, the druids can help us, Mimsy can help us but we must launch the Seedbombs tonight, before it is too late.”

—Dr Finlay Who
May 29th 2017

 

 


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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: The Fin Family Go SeedBombing

Fin’s Twenty Eighth Adventure

Can we save the World?

May 28th 2017

National Walking Month

 

Time was racing away, the sands of time were always falling but not in The Place Where Time Stands Still.

At least here there was Hope one of the three great saviours and Fin, Fiona, Dr Finlay and……Little Fin!

Somehow, somewhere Little Fin had joined them, wanting to save the world like his mother and father.

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Inspired by a lady who despised wastelands and loved nature they set about the task of preparing their seedbombs.

The World was being taken over by hate and fear they needed the words of wise men to keep them trying.

Jonathan Porritt, who had visited their home,
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

Kenny Mackay, “99% of people don’t think this way.”

Jesus Christ, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Buddha, “We are all Buddha’s from the beginning.”

Yoda, “Always in motion is the future.”

Henry Moore, “I want to contribute.”

 

Their mission clear, the task set out, they began to make their SeedBombs.

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Cluster bombs of seeds in clay to stick together and compost for growth they would be launched tomorrow.

 

 

—Dr Finlay Who
May 28th 2017

 

 


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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: Fin helps save the Bees

Fin’s Twenty Seventh Adventure

Lorraine helps save Dr Finlay

May 27th 2017

National Walking Month

Adventures come and go and sometimes we search for them and sometimes they search for us.

Today’s adventure was all about escape.  Dr Finlay wanted to escape, Fin wanted to escape and so they went for a walk together with Fin’s twin who it turned out was called Fiona.

She was taller than Fin with much less bark and rather vulnerable so Fin and Dr Finlay would try and take good care of her along with their friend Lorraine who was an expert at taking care of people.

They met Lorraine at the start of their walk and she joined them and held Fiona while Fin stayed in the gentle hands of Dr Finlay.

Dr Finlay wanted to show Fin and Fiona and Lorraine The Place Where Time Stands Still and so they made their way to Vicars Orchard.

Wandering around the orchard they headed for the bee hives and ….

Oh my goodness what is that hanging from the tree!!!!!!!

Maybe a whole swarm had made a getaway escaping with the Queen to pastures new leaving a smaller group hanging on for dear life on an apple tree close to the hive they had escaped from.

Bees are precious things and there was no time to waste they needed the Bee Emergency Services Team or BEST.

BEST was so brilliant he was already on the way and they met him at the gate of the orchard in the BEST Mobile.

Fin and Fiona, Dr Finlay and Lorraine explained the situation and watched him guide the BEST Mobile towards the hives.  The slogan on the BEST Mobile was very clever:- BEE The BEST that you can BEE.

Euan (The BEST Chief Executive Officer) donned his protective clothing and set about saving the bees and the others watched on in awe at the way man and nature tried to work with each other and how freedom was so cherished by all.

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When will we be free?

Dr Finlay made a note to remind Fin to read up about Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and William Wilberforce in case they didn’t have time before Doomsday which was now only a few days away.

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Fin watches on as BEEMAN completes the recapture of the escaping bees.

Fiona, Dr Finlay and Lorraine were all keeping a safe distance as they would have been vulnerable to the sting of the Killer Queen.

 

Tomorrow as they say was to bee another day.

—Dr Finlay
May 27th 2017