Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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From the Farmer

Did you know….

  • In Vicars Orchard there are 700 trees and 130 different varieties of Top Fruit. Many local varieties include great names like “Reverend Wilks” and “Rivers Early.”
  • Much of the grass in the orchard we leave till late July before cutting. This for birds, wildlife and less work. Please help keep dogs from scaring ground nesting birds off nests.
  • “Bastard Fallow” – an old term for leaving ground and cultivating to kills weeds is being carried out in Lowany to control docks and thistles
  • Hoping for bumper crop of grass from Squitmore this year.
  • We finally got all potatoes and onions in on 13th May, fingers crossed.
  • Pigs are moving to fresh ground in Vicarage Field. Will grow mustard as a green manure where they have been, and then potatoes next year.
  • We have 2000 tons of manure to spread and plough in. Most will go onto the field vegetable ground in Great Field.
  • It was 10 years in February since Walnut and Vicars Orchard were planted.
  • Each year we cut 1/22 of the Squitmore Spring Wood in a coppice rotation. This has let in a lot of light and encouraged undergrowth in the past 10 years.
  • 90% of sycamores now removed from the woods and ash and oak regrowth has been encouraged.
  • There are bats galore!

Tim

 

 

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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.

 bat-in-hand

 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