Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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College Students Save the Day

shop outsideOn Wednesday 13th September, four North Herts College students had the opportunity to  run the farm store for the day.    They set to work straight away as there was much to do.  “We tidied the shop inside and out”, said Kelly.  “I fed the pigs and piglets with the fruit and vegetables that were out of date and they all loved it!”

Leon logged in the new product and stocked the shelves while Craig and Harry delivered bags of logs to sell.   The floors were swept, the shelves dusted, the windows cleaned, the fridge items date checked but most importantly the customers were served efficiently and with a smile.

“We had to sort the eggs out and log how many go to the café and how many for the shop.  Then we had to bring them to the café”, said Leon.  He added, “I really enjoyed working in the shop because I was able to be in charge of the shop.”

The jobs weren’t limited to the inside as Craig painted an outside door and Harry even unclogged the drains.  The shop has never looked so good!  The customers complimented the students on their helpful attitudes and friendly faces which gave them a great sense of pride.

So a BIG thank you to Craig, Harry, Kelly, Leon and the Rural Care staff on a brilliant job!

Please come back again  🙂

 

 

 

Jill

 

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Chips with Everything

No of course this isn’t about food. It is about trees and what happens to them when sadly they have to get taken down because they are diseased or growing in the wrong place.

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Dean, formerly of Capel Manor College, and now running his own tree business, has been donating his leftovers to Church Farm.

Now what can we do with wood chips on a 175 acre clay soil site!?! Firstly we can save ourselves and the Co-Farmers at Rural Care a lot of weeding by mulching the ground around their raised beds.

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Next we can pave the path through Home Wood so the Wood Dwellers don’t get muddy feet in the winter and the vehicles won’t get stuck.

Also, we can make Home Wood Play a safer and more attractive space by adding a natural flooring to save the floor getting squishy and muddy and meaning more time can be spent throughout the year gazing at trees and birds and playing on the lovely tractor that Dean carved.

No waste, no compacted soil, better surfaces, and decomposition will help the little creatures and the goodness will return to the ground.

Chicken Dave

 

 

 


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New Grass Ley Planned for Lowany

Over the summer we will be breaking up 5 acres of old worn out grass, and docks. The reseed will be a mixture of different ryegrasses and white clovers, each variety having different growth habits. It will also contain “Timothy,” a great early spring grass which cattle love.Timothy grass

Timothy-grass (Phleum pratense) is an abundant perennial grass native to most of Europe except for the Mediterranean region. It is also known simply as timothy, meadow cat’s-tail or common cat’s tail. It is one of the Phleum genus, consisting of about 15 species of annual and perennial grasses.

It is probably named after Timothy Hanson, an American farmer and agriculturalist said to have introduced it from New England to the southern states in the early 18th century. Upon his recommendation it became a major source of hay and cattle fodder to British farmers in the mid-18th century.

Timothy-grass can be confused with meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis) and purple-stem cat’s-tail (Phleum phleoides).

Tim

 


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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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Spring Clean

This spring we’ve had a proper spring clean that hopefully will continue.

Farms and environmentalists are well known to do a spot of hording. Everything can potentially be repaired or re-used somewhere else, but also on farms there always is an enormous to do list and never any time to repair things.

In the tidy up of a container an old potato grader was found.

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It took a lot of indoor space so my initial thought was to dust it off and put it as a quirky exhibit outside the café. An initial dust off, a wash and a bit of linseed oil and the result is amazing.

I spent a few evenings doing research on the potato grader online and found a wealth of information and created a summary for the sign above it.

This machine is a Cooch and Son’s potato sorter, grader or riddler.  It was bought in 2014 and was used a few times at Church Farm to sort our potato crop. It is still in working order. From the research we have done the machine would have been built between 1906 and 1937.

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Cooch and Son’s were based in Northampton and were renowned for their agricultural machinery and even won prizes at the Royal Agricultural Show of England RASE with their potato graders.

Originally the potato sorter would have been operated by turning a wheel at the back by hand, which made the conveyer belt work and move the grates horizontally.  Later on the electrical motor from SEM was added to mechanise the process even further.

There is a nice video online to see the machine in action.

Now that I know the history of this machine, it might deserve a roof over it to protect it against the winter rain, which adds another job to the job list!2017_0401_ChFm17_0215

We would like to use some of the old machinery laying around the farm as historical exhibits to add another of layer of interest and educational value to the farm. If anybody would be keen to help cleaning up some of the machinery and help with some of the research to make this happen please contact ann@churchfarmardeley.co.uk.

Ann

 


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Around the Farm

It’s the 1st of June and we have just planted two acres of “pollen & nectar mix.”  At Church Farm our logo is a bee. Bees need all the help they can get so we have planted…

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Red cloverbee clover
Alsike clover
Phalecia
Sweet Bottom Clover
Sainfoin
Birdsfoot trefoil
Lesser Knapweed
Musk Mallow

 

 

 

Strawberry season has begun. You might have received strawberries in your farm box, already, and some have been available in the shop.  The early crop is  being harvested and there will be more to come.

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Little Farmer birthday parties are great fun!  The Little Farmer Birthday Party package can include a tractor and trailer ride, or egg collecting. Woodland wild parties and little farmers bespoke parties can be arranged.  Our Wild Party packages are perfect if you love the great outdoors and you want to have a completely different kind of party.

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Don’t miss a thing:

Church Farm Website

Church Farm Blog

Church Farm Store

Rural Care Blog

 

 

 


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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