Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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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

 

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From the Farmer

  • 2 tonnes of Seed Potatoes, Maris Piper and Cara and enough Onions have been ordered to plant 2 acres.
  • Soft Fruit pruning proceeds apace, with 800 new raspberry canes to plant.
  • Everything to paint, acres of painting / wood treatments to do, including 3000 posts to treat.
  • Trees to coppice (cut down) in woods, which we leave down on the floor for a year to dry and provide habitat for wildlife.
  • New log splitter at work.
  • Itching to plough. When will the soil dry out to plough this spring? – don’t think it will before March.FB_IMG_1518519025582
  • Greater numbers of cattle on Church Farm this winter as we have had young stock from Aldenham come over (12) in addition to 36 pregnant cattle and 40 plus young stock.
  • Feeding good quality barley straw as well as hay, and haylage to sheep. The breeding ewes still have a few more weeks good grass in Lowany
  • Geese and Ducks are a laying.
  • Rat control major priority over the farm at this time of year.
  • I can’t believe that someone is regularly chucking dog poo bags along the ancient green lane up the middle of the farm.
  • Lambing coming up in mid March.

Tim

 


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From the Farmer

  • Coppicing of Squitmore Spring Woods and thinning in the 5 new woods will be 20180116_131924going on in early February.
  • 90+% of species in woodland live on dead wood. Leaving brash and lumps to rot is essential to the bugs.
  • Planning Hedge Planting Days in February – volunteers are welcome as we aim to restore Lowany End Field hedge.
  • 100s of field fares in Upany. Covey of 12 grey partridge hanging out in Lowany End wood. Fallow Deer visiting at night.
  • Snow melt led to huge rise in the water table and all ponds full to brim as of new year.
  • 1880 field drain that runs into the lane from Upany is still running well all these years later.
  • 1940s ditch dug by Italian prisoners along long bottoms is overflowing.
  • One acre of new Summer Raspberries to plant as soon as it dries out.
  • Cattle are doing well in winter quarters. The new roof is making a good saving on straw.
  • Little Trumpeter and all the male cattle are separated till breeding season starts again. Ditto with the rams.
  • Rams have to wait 11 months for conjugal visits – is that a word? –. The bull we will let in again with the ladies in August.
  • The two Large White Boars however spend all their lives with the ladies who are remarkably receptive from about 6-7 days post weaning of their litter.

—Tim

 


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A Farm to Produce Food for People

Church Farm Ardeley is a “community interest company” set in order to innovate and create sustainable small farm enterprises. It took us 6 years of huge losses and a steep learning curve to get to full production and to break even! It is still a work in progress and a never ending challenge.

We produce every cut of meat, every vegetable and fruit we can here. Value is added through doing our own butchery and processing, making ready meals and we are reliant on people eating our food to sustain the farm in the pub, café, and direct farm retail.

To produce such a wide range of food, without using fungicides and pesticides, and in a manner we are proud of, takes a lot of people. We have a core team of full and part time people who help across the enterprises, we provide supervised work experience for adults with difficulties and education, have volunteers, students and interns contributing to getting the huge amount of work done to grow food and bring it to market. In all there about 48 full and part time staff on the payroll to run the farm, café, shop and pub.

We grow:

Livestock includes:

· British Lop, Large White & Berkshire breeding sows, boars, weaners and finishers (120)
· Red Poll and Red Poll Cross Cattle and Followers (80 head)
· Llyen, Suffolk, Texel, Black, White and Badger Faced Welsh Mountain sheep and fat lambs (140 head)
· Light Sussex, Cuckoo Maran, Black Rock, Rhode Island and Hybrid Laying hens (750)
· Outdoor reared table poultry – we produce 50 a week
· Norfolk Black turkeys, Embden geese, Aylesbury ducks, Bee hives and Apiary Garden

In addition we coppice and produce over 1500 bags of logs, make kindling, and grow some Christmas trees.

Thank you to everyone who eats our food and enables us to farm.

—Tim Waygood