Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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From the Farmer

Did you know….

  • In Vicars Orchard there are 700 trees and 130 different varieties of Top Fruit. Many local varieties include great names like “Reverend Wilks” and “Rivers Early.”
  • Much of the grass in the orchard we leave till late July before cutting. This for birds, wildlife and less work. Please help keep dogs from scaring ground nesting birds off nests.
  • “Bastard Fallow” – an old term for leaving ground and cultivating to kills weeds is being carried out in Lowany to control docks and thistles
  • Hoping for bumper crop of grass from Squitmore this year.
  • We finally got all potatoes and onions in on 13th May, fingers crossed.
  • Pigs are moving to fresh ground in Vicarage Field. Will grow mustard as a green manure where they have been, and then potatoes next year.
  • We have 2000 tons of manure to spread and plough in. Most will go onto the field vegetable ground in Great Field.
  • It was 10 years in February since Walnut and Vicars Orchard were planted.
  • Each year we cut 1/22 of the Squitmore Spring Wood in a coppice rotation. This has let in a lot of light and encouraged undergrowth in the past 10 years.
  • 90% of sycamores now removed from the woods and ash and oak regrowth has been encouraged.
  • There are bats galore!

Tim

 

 

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Meet Farmer Tom

Hello everyone, my name is Farmer Tom am 30 years old, married and have 2 boys, Toby and Noah, who enjoy coming to help on the farm with me. I have be working on the for nearly 3 years now and I really enjoy it.  I studied agriculture at Stratton School with a dream to work on a farm. But after I passed my exams I ended up working in retail. I did manage to work my way up to a store manager. but it was never what I wanted to do in life. Then I saw the job at Church Farm and I have been happy ever since.

What I enjoy most on the farm is sharing my knowledge with everyone about the farm and seeing the excitement in people’s faces when they get to see the animals close up. I looking forward to a busy camping season this year.

Farmer Tom leads activities like egg collecting and Farmer for a Day, and might be the driver for your Tractor and Trailer ride.  Be sure and say “Hi” when you see him at the farm!

 


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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

  • 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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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: Fin meets the pigs!

More Pain and More Pleasure

Fin meets the Pigs!

Fin’s Second Adventure.

May 2nd 2017

National Walking Month

Dr Finlay and Fin both liked to get up early and were off walking well before the children got to school.

Fin had “accidentally” struck Dr Finlay on the knee as they gathered themselves to leave but Dr Finlay put it down to Fin’s asymmetrical shape rather than any ill intent.

They were looking for an adventure and had in mind the nasty nettles that sting and to try and discover if the nettles would sting Fin as they did Dr Finlay.  Fin would have to be brave for this of course but in fact they got distracted.

Some funny, pink, four legged creatures caught their attention and chased after them as they walked by.

“What strange and needy creatures these seem to be,” muttered Fin to Dr Finlay.  “Us trees or bits of trees don’t chase people, we just stand there being elegant unperturbed by the passing world.”

“Perhaps you are right,” replied Dr Finlay, “but these pigs don’t have so much time as you, their lives are short whereas yours is long.”

“A pig may only live for two or three years whereas a tree could be looking down at the world for a hundred years or more.”

Fin still wasn’t quite sure what to make of these odd creatures but he was certainly getting to see a different world from his own.

Tomorrow as they say was to be another day.

—Dr Finlay
May 2nd 2017

 

 


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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