Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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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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Thank you, Viv and Istvan

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Just before Christmas, our reporter Holly and newsletter editor Aimee sat with Viv and Istvan, as they were taking a break from plucking, to talk to them about their future plans.  Viv and Istvan were at Church Farm for nearly two years, and have returned to Hungary to get started with their own small farm.

 We asked many questions, about their time here and their future plans.  Viv worked in horticulture, the farm, box scheme, the shop and café and on many weekends cared for the Rural Care animals.  Istvan has been working on the farm, driving tractor, caring for pigs and cows and poultry, and preparing poultry for Christmas orders.  They were happy to talk to us about their future plans.

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 Holly asked them if they have enjoyed their time at Church Farm.  Istvan answered,

….sometimes good or bad, in two years, working 6 days a week.  When we look back in five years, we will be smiling, not crying.

When we talked to them they were preparing to leave.  Viv enjoyed cooking while she was here, and there are many reports about wonderful cakes she made for birthdays and other occasions. She said she had much to pack up from her kitchen here.  Istvan said she can’t take everything with her!

 They have many things in their caravan to send home by trucks.  They have to pack up things and send 75kg. They have a 100 year old house with their land and yes they did to enjoy lots of cooking and things to put for their Christmas.  In their future to get married in June and to hope to have three or four children.  They will work really hard in their life with their children to grow up with their animals. They will start to grow vegetables as well as the animals are the best with a good place to stay to watch the views on their farm.  They are making their own plans for their own farm and they will start with the smaller animals: two guinea pigs, rabbits, two dogs, mixture of animals, pigs, goats, poultry with the eggs, ostrich, honey bees in their new areas.

Viv and Istvan both grew up with animals and growing vegetables, so for them it is natural to go back and get started with their own farm.  Istvan said that he thinks a farm is a good place to raise children, and they are both looking forward to starting a family soon.

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To Viv and Istvan:  You all hopefully to have a nice time and we all see you all some point and we hope you all to have a nice time there and over Christmas and New Year and don’t forget about us and Church Farm too.  We all miss you here at the farm.  Thank you for your hard work, smiles and cakes!

 To all our readers:  Merry Christmas and New Year and Happy New Year to you all and your children from Holly.

Holly and Aimee

 


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Christmas and New Year

Thank you to everyone involved in the farm over the past year, customers, visitors, staff, interns, volunteers, friends, rabbits and relations.

Happy and Healthy New Year

Tim Waygood

 

 

All Christmas orders can be collected until the 23rd Dec.  If you have chosen delivery, you will receive yours on the 22nd Dec.

The Church Farm Shop and Café will be closed Christmas Day.

The Jolly Waggoner will be open Christmas Day for drinks from 12:00—3:00pm.

Otherwise:

Shop 9-5, every day

Café 9-5, every day

 


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From the Farmer

  • Medlar harvesting will be the last of the orchard fruit to pick. Always after the first good frost.
  • Winter beans went in after potatoes, to hopefully give us an earlier crop than the spring grown varieties.
  • New raspberry canes on order – 500 of 3 different varieties to plant over the winter.
  • All the deer for miles around have found our sweetcorn – Fallow and Muntjac feeding away every night.
  • Turkeys happily listening to radio 4 – tripwires and night security out to make sure we don’t get “poached”.
  • Beetroot is being harvested but a lot will stay in the field. Round bales are ready to roll over them to protect from frost. Carrots / Parsnips / Swedes and Turnips are ok as long as we can still get forks in the ground.
  • The last few winters have been mild, maybe this year will be different. Water bowsers and petrol pumps need preparing as pipes in the fields freezing is the only main issue.2017 - Oct cow - Emma P
  • Cattle went into winter quarters on the 3rd of November. This has saved 13 days of straw and hay compared to last year. We are looking forward to being able to turn the cattle out earlier in the spring next year. Several fields have a good 8-10inch of grass still on them, and the “Timothy” grass in the ley’s grows first in the spring.

Tim

 


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Christmas at the Farm

Christmas time is a busy time at the farm.  While the harvesting is winding down, and there is likely to be more mud around, there is still plenty to see and do at Church Farm.

Spot the Reindeer
Reindeer TrailWith a Farm Day Pass you can follow the farm trail, spot the Reindeer, see the horticulture garden, enjoy the woodland play area, see animals in Home Field and Vicarage Field, and use the indoor play room.  (£3/adult or child, or £10 for up to 5 people, for the whole day)  The Reindeer trail starts on Saturday, the 12th of November.

 

Farmer Christmas

 

Take a Trailer Ride with Farmer Christmas
Book a trailer ride with Farmer Christmas on any Saturday or Sundays in December.  Rides will be available at 10:00am and 3:00pm.  (£4.50/adult and £5.50/child, present included)

Christmas Trees
Come to the farm to choose your own Christmas tree and replant one!  Meet at the farm shop any Saturday or Sunday in December at 10am, 11am, 12pm or 2pm.  Join the woodsman to cut your tree for this year and to help us plant another one for the future.

Harvesting MedlarsMedlars
We have 30 Old English Medlar trees.  Come along to pick for yourself, perhaps to make jellies or desserts or even wine.  Small groups will be supervised by our grower.  Entry is free and you pay for what you harvest for yourself.  Gather at the farm shop at 10am or 2pm on either Saturday the 3rd December for Saturday the 10th December.

Free Range Turkeys

Christmas Produce
Behind the scenes meat and veg are being prepared for veg boxes, meat boxes and Christmas orders.  We are raising turkeys, ducks and geese.  The horticulture team has grown carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and sprouts, but that’s not all.  This year’s harvest also includes beetroot, winter squash, purple sprouting broccoli, savoy cabbage, lettuce, swede and turnips.  Come to the farm or visit our new online shop to place your order:  churchfarm.shop.

Tom and Aimee

 


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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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Agri-Cultural Exchange

I have been an intern at Church Farm for almost half a year now, and one of the reasons why I chose this place is the diversity. You can find a variety of domesticated animals, except dairy cows.

Back home in the Lower Rhine Region of Germany, dairy cows are dominating my life. I adore them since I started to work on a family owned dairy farm. It is a place where tradition and new technologies go hand in hand. Although it is a conventional farm, it is managed sustainably and animal welfare is a priority. Every cow, and there are around 80, has a name, and Eduscho is my favorite. She is 11 years old, which is quite unusual for modern dairy farming. There is so much I could tell you about these cows, but since it is summer, let me tell you how Eduscho is spending hers.

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Eduscho‘s optimal outside temperature is about 15°C, so you can imagine that summer isn’t her favorite time of the year, when the temperature can climb over 30°C. During that time Eduscho could become poorly due to the heat stress her body is suffering from. She has the chance to go outside onto the grassland, but when it‘s getting too hot she prefers to stay in the stable.

There she can cool down her body while having a cool shower. Above the eating grid there are little sprinklers that help her to feel more comfortable. On top of that, water nozzles behind huge fans are cooling down the air before it gets sucked in. If Eduscho wants to go outside she has to pass a gate which won’t open if she hasn’t been milked for a while. The responder around her neck is passing on the information to the gate. Then Eduscho will go to the milking robot, where she gets some special cow candy. A robotic arm moves under her udder to clean it with brushes, then a laser appears that tells the robot the location of the four teats, and the arm places the the cups onto the teats so the milking process can start. During that time there is an exchange of information between the robot and the responder.

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After the milking Eduscho will be able to pass the gate. The responder gives data about the rumination rate to the robot that also collects data about body temperature and the conductivity of milk. This data helps to analyse her overall health status. Before she leaves the robot she gets a little treatment for her hooves, you could call it a pedicure. Now after milking she might be in the mood for a nice back rub. She just has to push against one of the brushes and it starts to spin automatically.

Then she will head straight outside to eat the fresh grass. Standing next to Eduscho on the grassland you would observe that the agricultural land is surrounded by conservation stripes that offer habitat for wild animals. In the old barns where the calves are being raised, you can have a look at the busy swallows feeding their offspring. And as Eduscho is enjoying the twilight with its dropping temperature, you might be lucky and see the barn owls leaving their nest boxes under the gable of the barn.

Angelina