Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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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.

31 art and nature

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

31 wow

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

 

31 reclining figure

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.

 

31 roots

Fin getting some roots

 

31 dentist

Another Angel

31 sue

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.

31 sue and granddaughter

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.

31 bluebells

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………!

31 end

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


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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

 


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Tyler by Day and Night

The tiny robin looked around for breakfast and found some berries.  Wary of the kite above and the pig below he pecked at the fruit before chirping his way off into the fields for hours of play upon the breeze.  Hopping from tree to tree, from ash to oak he spotted his oddball friend the white bluebell amongst its more homogenous (same) brothers and sisters.

We can’t all be the same he thought and admired the will of the flower to be different.  More fields of wild flowers to explore and admire, bees within and around them and acres of blue sky to dive into.

With little mouths to feed and nests to repair he couldn’t play all day but remembering Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach) he knew it was a good use of some of his time.

The big ball in the sky was falling and the smaller one coming over and it was time to tuck his head under his wing and rest.

Tyler has just completed his time on the farm and these photos are a testimony to his love of nature, his own quiet nature and the peace we can sometimes find around us amidst the noise and haste. (Desirderata).

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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Horticulture and Harvest

Sun, Rain, Sweat and Weeds  DSC08286

At Church Farm in horticulture we are outdoing ourselves. We come into a glorious time of the year when just about every seasonal fruit or vegetable is available, or soon will be available, naturally grown. With a kitchen garden, five polytunnels, five acres of soft fruit and heritage orchard, and over five and a half thousand square metres of field crops, it is truly a pleasure to meet the challenge of serving the Church Farm Store, Café, Jolly Waggoner Pub Restaurant, Aldenham Country Park and over 100 Farm Box customers. As we draw breath, we do it with thanks to the small group of amazing dedicated staff and interns from across the world. We couldn’t do it without you.

DSC08285Church Farm is unique in that we invite you to come in and explore where your food comes from; a working farm in a relaxed atmosphere. If you like your fruit and veg we invite you to come and take a tour or simply come in for a wander and see for yourself.

Darren

 

Autumn and an Interview with Eva

Holly and I talked about Autumn and the harvest and interviewed Eva, who works in Horticulture at Church Farm.  Eva says the harvest is starting now.  Look for Church Farm produce in your box or in the shop.

Aimee

We will have a harvest for the barbecue party and DSC08291to play in the leaves and the leaves are dancing in the wind with the birds flying in the strong wind and they do art with the leaves in the craft room. To harvest the strawberries and fruits and the vegetables in the box to delver to everyone in the village and round the farm and be careful of the fence with the wire when it windy and
chilly and strong wind. To change the menu for autumn and to harvest the potatoes and to dig DSC08298up the soil with the potatoes in the bucket and the leaves are falling down from the trees and to put the leaves in the compost for the gardening on the allotment and to rake the leaves up in the Autumn and lots of fun and lots of colours on the leaves are beautiful in Autumn and less of flowers in the winter.

Get more vegetables in October and they do harvest celebration and they cut the DSC08300pumpkins open and the pumpkins turn into orange colour in October for the treats. They have got red currants and pears and all veg everyday a lot of tomatoes and salad and veg for the whole project for a long time in the big garden to prepare the box full of fruits and vegetables for the delivery round the farm.

Holly, Co-Farmer and Reporter

 


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Football, Farm, Fun and Fundraising-July 30th 2016

A once in a lifetime opportunity to remember something special brought together a gathering of footballers from 11 different countries to prepare for, play out, and support a friendly match against a local village side.

Cottered Chairman, Alan Chamberlain brought his team over to take on the Rest of The World and it was a classic mix of think Global and Act Local.  (Friends of the Earth motto).

1966 shirt handover

Chicken Dave and Alan swapping shirts.
 Will with World Cup Willy and Grace with the Jewels Rhyming Trophy

Of course with players from all over the world to choose from The Rest of The World ran out winners but only by the narrowest of margins 2 – 1.

Replicating the World Cup Final of 1966 the red shirted players from the farm conceded first and then went on to equalise thanks to Guillame and the winning goal came from Dejan shortly before half time.

1966 teamwork

The International Team’s goalscorers working in tandem.
Guilliame and Man of the Match Dejan

 

Resisting a lot of pressure in the second half and defending the smaller goal the reds held on to a welcome victory in a match played in the best possible spirit.

Even Pickles lookalikes were amongst the WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends) on the sidelines and for those of you who didn’t know Pickles was the name of the dog who recovered the World Cup when it had been stolen from an exhibition.

1966 Sid Pickles

Pickles (Sid) in a remake of the search for the World Cup

This exhibition of football with an age range of over fifty years from youngest to oldest had strong defensive work from butcher Chris, who didn’t live up to his occupation, alongside the French connection of Theo and Antoine, creative attacking play from Will and Grace aided by the winged wonder Archie and all held together by good team play in the middle of the park from our Argentinian maestro Javier, (No hand of God on this occasion) it was perhaps though the game of the century on the Farm with many thanks to all who got involved one way or another including seamstresses, charity shops, supporters, organisers, farmers and of course the players themselves.

1966 international team

The International Team

Well done England and the Rest of the World, especially Ireland, (Paul) and a huge thank you to Cottered FC for being such good sports.

Her Majesty the Queen was on other business and so Princesses  Su and Emily presented the trophy and the teams are pictured below in front of the Royal Tractor.

1966 teams and royal tractor

Bobby Moore (Grace) with the World Cup Mascot and Trophy

 

N.B. Proceeds from the Quiz raised over £120 and this money will go towards replacing the damaged goal posts at Ardeley St Lawrence Primary School who are training up the next England World Cup winning squad with help from Stevenage Borough.  This scheme will also be supporting numeracy and literacy skills at the school.

1966 french award

Grace presenting Pauline and our French visitors with a different style Jules Rimet Trophy

Thanks to the teams from Wood End, St Martins Wood School in Stevenage who ran out the winners and everyone who helped us enjoy the evening and raise some funds.

 

“They think it’s all over…. It is now.”

Commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme who also flew 100 missions as a WWII pilot!

1966 teams and trophy

They think it’s all over……it is now.

Cottered and The International Team and the famous Coq au Biere Trophy

with World Cup Mascot, Larry The Lion and Grace (Captain for the day).

 

Thank you to:

Tim:  Wembley Owner

Will:  Groundsman

Grace:  International Team Manager

Alan:   Cottered Team Manager

Aimee:  Photographer and Numberer

Javier:  Shirt Supplier

Paul:  International Liason

The Players:  For playing

The Supporters:  For supporting

The Sun:  For shining on us


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The Birds and the Bees

Last month, Red Kites, this month, Honey Bees. The variety of the life around us on the farm both human and otherwise can be staggering.

In a colony of bees you may have thousands of these insects taking up their roles in keeping their species going.

  • The Queen Bee, who will spend a lot of time laying a lot of eggs
  • The drone, a lazy, good-for-only-one-thing male
  • The worker, an astonishingly hard working, sterile and short-lived female

Local beekeeper since the age of eleven, Euan Brierley, informed us of some of the facts surrounding these tiny creatures in the midst of Vicar’s Orchard at the end of June.  It turns out that the location is entirely suitable as the inventor of the modern beehive structure most widely used was Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth who patented his design in 1852.  The dimensions of the hives were based on champagne boxes which of course most Vicars will have lying about somewhere!!!

bees - Tyler

Euan with eager intern Tyler and a lot of bees

 

Bees will fly a couple of miles to check out the local environment for their food, and Ardeley is happily filled with gardens of bee friendly flowers.  Euan tells of his own adventures with his father driving up to the North of England with hives in the back of the car in search of nectar and to help pollinate local flora.

We looked inside the hives, both British Standard and Top Bar varieties, one more geared to man’s needs than those of the bees.  Questions rained in about royal jelly, colony level decision making and levels of honey production, beeswax and waterproofing, sugar syrup and organic bee keeping, as well as pollen types and honey intoxication!

 

bees - Istvan

Istvan examining Emma’s Top Bar Hive

 

Euan has avoided the dreaded varoa mite amongst his bees for over four years, and puts it down to only taking what is reasonable, rather than replacing honey with sugar syrup when harvesting the crop.

Many thanks to Euan for his willingness to share his learning and his bees, to Darren for organising our introduction to bees, and Emma for helping to support and extend the farm’s involvement with them.  Also to the interested interns and volunteers who resemble the hard working, worker bees and managed to fit in a class after the usual demands of a day on the farm.

bees - Euan and interns

Darren, Euan, Su, Eva, Tyler, Andy, Amber, Istvan and Viv and some bees!

 

N.B. When the time comes for that talk about the Birds and the Bees it is really a very difficult and rather terrifying example, for a male at least, of the consequences of copulation! As the Queen flies high into the air, to tempt the strongest drone, his success is rewarded by being emasculated on decoupling!

—Chicken Dave