Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: A Day of Wonder

Fin’s Sixteenth Adventure

Hungry Birds

May 16th 2017

National Walking Month and Dementia Awareness Week

In the middle of a small wood a nest box had been put up on a tree.

Dr Finlay was working late as usual but on this occasion he was to be rewarded in a way that money simply cannot buy.

A small movement caught his eye and looking more closely he saw the gaping mouth of a tiny, tiny bird.

Awestruck he went to find a box to look more closely and used Fin to support his clambering.

Gently lifting the lid he saw not one but eight hungry birds, their eyes not yet open and their beaks open wide desparate for food.

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Nature!!!

Incredible!!!

Retreating to a safe distance he felt the need to share this wondrous experience with people he knew and cared about whom he thought would appreciate it.

He rushed off hoping they would share his amazement.

Later he was to share the experience with colleagues and Co-Farmers, staff and friends.

Their joyful faces were something to behold almost as wonderful as the sight itself.

This would not have happened if there were no trees and he was reminded of the famous book by Rachel Carson, Silent Spring.

Imagine, no birds, no trees, no farms, no animals, no life on Earth.

No don’t, enjoy it.

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Tomorrow as they say was to be another day.

—Dr Finlay
May 16th 2017

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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: A visit to the playground

A Pile of Sticks

A Visit to the Playground

Fin’s Fourth Adventure

May 4th 2017

National Walking Month

Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you) started like most others with the sun rising somewhere else and arriving like a bus to the right of Dr Finlay’s caravan.

Fin would be waiting outside ready for another adventure and this morning Dr Finlay was in a better place, a kinder place, a gentler place.

Dr Finlay had been wondering if Fin was lonely, did he miss his other sticks?  Perhaps they could go and visit a place nearby and he could show Fin that if he needed them that other sticks were close by for a stick fight or a pooh stick race, although Fin was a bit big for that now. But you never lose your inner pooh stick, thought Dr Finlay. Fin was thinking this too and had recently been reminded of how much fun young sticks have and that perhaps he wasn’t having enough fun himself.

So off they went on a short stroll to the Farm’s Playground where they found the sticks that had recently all got together to make a den, a shelter, a place to hide safe from the intrusions of the outside world.

They all lay there in a straight line, piled up, but perhaps at night or when no-one was watching they would get up and dance and play, perhaps…

Dr Finlay then took Fin over to the Vicars Orchard so that they got some proper walking done and a chance to see some trees being trees together.

Dr Finlay noticed that he was getting used to Fin and the initial awkwardness of holding a funny stick was disappearing.  Fin and he were getting acquainted.

Tomorrow as they say was to be another day.

And tomorrow they would be joined on their walk by their first guest.

—Dr Finlay
May 4th 2017

 

 


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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: Lean on Me

Just pain today

Lean on me

Fin’s Third Adventure

May 3rd 2017

National Walking Month

Dr Finlay was in a strange mood this morning as they set off on their morning walk around the Circular Walk. It was to be a very quiet walk today, no talking, no greeting the animals, not enough a glance up to the trees.  The only thing that Dr Finlay remembered was another stick lying in the middle of the path.  His eyes were downcast.

Fin wasn’t sure what to do?  So he just carried on being a stick, something for someone to hold on to.  Something to provide support and something to lean on.

Fin was a quite brilliant stick and didn’t realise how helpful he was being.  He was a quiet comfort in a time of sadness for Dr Finlay who had received some difficult news. He was glad Fin was there.  Can I stick be a friend?  Perhaps this is a good example of when so called inanimate objects can provide some comfort in troubled times.

Tomorrow as they say was to be another day.

—Dr Finlay
May 3rd 2017

 

 


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Lamb Feeding and other Spring Activities

Preparations are underway for the first birth of the year.  The lambing bays have been laid with fresh straw and the ewes are moving into the maternity ward as we speak.

lambs

New intern, Angelina, has arrived from North Rhine-Westfalia in Germany to work in Rural Care and lead the lamb feeding team.  Angelina is studying sustainable agriculture at the University of Applied Science, after WWOOFing in New Zealand three years ago sparked her interest in agriculture.  She will be with us through August.

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Our first lambs are due mid-March. If you would like to meet our hand reared lambs and help us bottle feed them you can book online . Bottle-feeding is £9.95 per person, supervising adults are free. A lamb feeding session will typically last 45 minutes.  You will hear from our experienced staff the latest details about how the lambing is progressing and how special this time of year is on our farm. This activity is wonderful for all ages and everyone can get involved. Bottle-feeding lambs is a wheelchair and pushchair friendly activity.

Booking is essential as this is a popular event.  Please check-in at the Farm Store on arrival.

Name the Lambs Competition20170302_131825
Pick up an activity sheet from the farm shop when you get your Farm Day Pass and animal feed, and follow the Farm Trail around, past rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and cows.  Along the way there are six painted lambs.  See if you can find them all!  Write down their names and go back to the shop for a prize.

Chick Trail for Easter
During the Easter holidays, pick up an activity sheet from the farm shop when you get your Farm Day Pass and animal feed, and follow the Farm Trail around, past rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and cows.  Along the way there are painted chicks.  See if you can find them all!  Write down their names and go back to the shop for a prize.

Egg Collecting
We offer Little Farmers the chance to help with feeding chickens and collecting eggs from our happy Church Farm hens.  Egg collecting is at 11:30 am and lasts approximately 1 hour. Plus, as part of the experience, they’ll get to take half a dozen eggs home with them—eggcellent! You can book online. If you have any questions please call 01438 861 447. Egg collecting is £9.95 per child (this price includes the half dozen eggs and a bag of animal feed), free for supervising adults.

Farm Day Pass
A Farm Day Pass enables you to enjoy access to the farm trail, horticulture garden, woodland play area, home field and vicarage field animals and use of the indoor play room for just £3 per person or just £10 for up to 5 adults and children. Bags of pig, poultry and cattle feed are available at the Farm Store, where you will be given a safety briefing and a free map showing the points where you can feed the animals around the farm.

 

daffs

 


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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.

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 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

 


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Harmony

When I think of harmony, I think of an orchestra all playing well together.  Although this is not the strict musical definition of harmony (thank you Aimee) it is perhaps the understanding of harmony that many people have.

Trying to keep everyone together and at least reasonably content is the lot of parents, team captains, bosses and politicians as well as world leaders.  It is certainly not an easy thing.

When there is plenty, harmony seems easier to obtain and when resources are short it would make sense that it is more difficult.  However if we look at more difficult times it is often at these times that some people pull together for some greater good.

 Harmony - Lorraine Gemma Hannah

Lorraine, Gemma and Hannah from Rural Care

 

Sharing is certainly not something that comes easily to many people and in some ways it feels unnatural, our instinct for personal survival kicks in and yet as the saying goes “if you travel alone you travel faster but if you travel together you travel further.”

Nature seems to cope very well with harmony, balance and equilibrium despites man’s efforts to intervene nature can adapt and correct itself to cope with much that is thrown at it.

Often when I am pottering around doing a bit of work here and there, I know that cutting a branch will have consequences not only for the tree but for the whole ecosystem that it belongs to.

If I upset one person there will be a ripple effect and if I make a person smile this too will resonate further than its initial impact.

Harmony - football team

French/Anglo relations developing on the football pitch, straw bale and beyond

 

Chicken Dave

 


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We’re Off the Bottle

20160524_134733If you live within a 5 mile radius of the farm you may have heard that we are weaning our hand reared lambs.  Their bleats for milk can be heard far and wide! Weaning is the practice of removing from lambs the milk diet provided by the ewe (or a milk replacement diet).  From the milk diet, lambs are moved onto forage or grain based diets.  The separation can be stressful for ewes, lambs and those of us who are caring for them.

Weaning age varies greatly in the sheep industry. Lambs have been weaned successfully as early as 14 days, while some lambs are allowed to wean naturally, staying with their mums for 6 months or more.  Hand-reared lambs can be successfully weaned from a milk diet at 25 to 30 pounds body weight or when they are 30 to 45 days old. Weaning abruptly is better than offering a diluted milk replacer the last week.

Our hand reared lambs are now 3 months old which is when we usually wean them.  They have had access to grass to forage from the first few days of being alive and have been introduced to grain from a week old. 3 months of feeding 6 times a day is a huge commitment for all of our staff, co-farmers and volunteers and it’s a relief when we make it through and feel confident that they can survive without the milk.

In a natural situation, weaning occurs at approximately 6 months of age, usually in the autumn when the ewes begin returning to estrus (the ewe reproductive cycle). Our male lambs with mums will be separated from the ewes and weaned next, but our female lambs will stay with their mums and wean naturally.

There are several advantages to late weaning. It is more “natural” and results in less stress for the ewe and lambs. There is less risk of the ewe developing mastitis since her milk production has declined significantly by the time the lambs are removed.

For now our lambs are learning to fend for themselves, it’s a tough lesson but their instinct and resilience will hopefully see them though.  In the mean time we have ear plugs on order!

—Rozelle