Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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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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Vicar’s Orchard

Damsons, plums, greengages, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, apples and medlars: seven hundred and twenty trees in Vicar’s Orchard: mostly of local varieties. The orchard was first laid out and planted in 2008. Lots of local people came to help plant it. Next year we will be inviting them back to see how their trees have grown. It will be the tenth anniversary of planting, though the trees will be twelve years old. After planting, the orchard got a bit neglected and the labels on the trees wore off, so we didn’t know which was which. We had to recreate the grid on which the trees were laid out. We did this using recycled roof tiles painted with letters and numbers. Then we could match the printed plan to the actual trees. After that I inscribed 710 aluminium labels naming the trees, giving each of them an address and set them twinkling in the branches.

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Some trees had died, so last year we used a memorial fund for Daniel Gomm to purchase replacements in his memory. His relatives and friends came to plant 32 of them. Each tree has to be staked, fitted with a rabbit guard, swaddled with a mulch mat, manured and given a couple of cans of water, so planting a tree is quite hard work, and the orchard soil is often very stony. This year we planted another 12 trees and there are still a few gaps left to fill.

Under Darren’s guidance, Dave pruned the trees this year, and Mary and I scraped up the prunings. Many prunings on the ground had been gnawed, so we decided to pile them around the edge of the orchard, hoping that rabbits and voles would gnaw these rather than the trees themselves. Dave was awarded the title of Supreme Shit Shoveller of the Year, for barrowing over 700 loads of manure, one for each tree. Rabbit guards had to be checked frequently, leaning trees straightened with stakes, and weeds strimmed around the trees – and all this recorded in the orchard log which keeps track of each tree.

Shit award

Blossoming in the orchard starts with the damsons and plums, followed by the cherries, nectarines and peaches and by the end of April the apples and pears are in bloom. There’s some mowing to do but until fruit picking time it’s now mainly down to the bees.

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Roger Gomm

 


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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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Lambing with Rural Care: The Real Picture

This is the second year Rural Care has taken on the full livestock management of the sheep at Church Farm, and this of course involves lambing!

Charlotte, our Rural Care livestock manager, gave us a course in lambing in advance. For some of us who were involved last year it was just a little bit less daunting than the year before.  The whole Rural Care staff team, volunteers and co-farmers got involved and several of our co-farmers actually delivered lambs this year!

Collage

Lambing can take a long time and lots of energy for humans as well as sheep.  For humans this might be bags full of chocolate and biscuits, for the ewes it is soaked sugar beet as well as loads of lubricant and orange arm length gloves.

All the pregnant ewes where put into our lambing bays two weeks before the first lambs where due.  The ewes had been scanned beforehand so we knew if they were expecting one, two or three lambs. They were marked with a coloured spot on their back, so we knew how many lambs to expect during delivery.

Lambing 41

The signs to look for when a ewe is starting to lamb is that she might separate herself from the herd, she might stop eating, her udder fills up and her vulva is getting very pink. She will also start pawing, as she is making a nest. She will also start licking her lips and might start making certain noises to start communicate with her lambs, even though they are still inside her.  But obviously some sheep won’t have many of these signs, some have them for days, some give birth quickly,….It all depends on the ewe.

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A ewe in labour

Once the lamb is born the mother will start licking the lamb dry.

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If the lamb struggles with breathing and you might have to put a bit of straw up his/her nostrils to make it sneeze and start breathing properly.

Lambing 43

It is also common to swing the lamb from its back legs to drain the fluid.

Lambing 44

Mothers can be very protective of their very precious offspring!

Lambing 16

Charlotte keep meticulous records of our ewes. We record their number and breed, but also if they had any problem during their last pregnancy and birthing and which tupping group they were in ( e.g. which ram the father is). We record if they ewes has milk and if the different lambs can suckle and if they are male or female.

Lambing 6

Once the lambs are born, the ewes and the lambs are put in a pen where they can bond with each other.  The navels of the lambs get iodined to stop infections and we check if the ewe has milk and the lambs are able to suckle.

Lambing 14

Lambing 13

Our lambing pens where built out of pallets by Tony (Rural Care) and the co-farmers and made such an improvement to last year. The co-farmers even made little blackboards so we could put the vital information about the current ewe and lambs in the pen for the next person coming on shift.

Lambing 7

Once we are sure the mother and lambs are fine and have bonded well, they go into the nursery, where they mix with a small amount of mothers and toddlers. Eventually after a few more days they get up out in the field with the rest of the mother that have given birth.

Lambing 1

Lambing 3

Lambing is a lot about observing your animals and getting to know there normal behaviour as well as checking if everything is going to plan with the mother as well as the lambs.

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Lambing is hard work, emotional, exciting, upsetting, exhilarating, exhausting but most of all it teaches you about life and death and how precious life is !

Many thanks to the Rural Care staff for all the extra hours.  And thank you to Nick Hooper for the photos in this article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A ewe in labour

 

 

 

 

 

Once the lamb is born the mother will start licking the lamb dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the lamb struggles with breathing and you might have to put a bit of straw up his/her nostrils to make it sneeze and start breathing properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is also common to swing the lamb from its back legs to drain the fluid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mothers can be very protective of their very precious offspring!

 

 


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Many Happy Returns

Some Birthdays we like to remember, some we like to forget but usually somewhere along the way we will celebrate them in one way or another.

Tim the Farmer reached his 50th birthday recently and tried to keep it fairly quiet but word got out and he had a few surprises.

Tim Roger tractor - Copy

Tim wondering why no one had wrapped up his Birthday present!

These included a Special Edition of this newsletter with photos supplied by his family to embarrass him.  A group of students fed 50 trees for him in the Vicars Orchard, and he had at least two surprise cakes with the big 50 written on them.

Uni challenge group

Students from North Carolina wishing Tim a Happy Birthday.

Tim and some of his friends spent the night in some of the cabins on the farm and then found their way to the café for breakfast.

Another of our visitors had other ideas and booked dinner in the Jolly Waggoner but her guests had to earn their dinner with a good walk around the farm after some spectacular duck herding.

herding ducks

Magnificent duck herding by this birthday group.

The farm is getting busier now with lamb feeding, butchers and farmers for the day getting unique experiences, often for a birthday and children’s parties heading off on farm tours on the trailer to feed the animals.

lamg and toy

Lots of birthdays on the way for those Airies
amongst you and also for many of our lambs.

For all of you with birthdays coming up under the sign of the Ram we would like to wish you a very happy birthday.


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Wednesday Walkies with Sid the Sheepdog

Sid the Sheepdog bounding through the Bluebells on the Circular Walk

Sid the Sheepdog bounding through the Bluebells on the Circular Walk

A lovely Wednesday morning and Sid was playfully running about amongst the beautiful bluebells that can be seen from the Circular Walk at the Farm. They won’t be there for much longer so he was keen to enjoy them while he could.

Meanwhile it appears that Chicken Dave had become a proper dog person and before they set off he had bought Sid a present.

Su showing Sid his present from Chicken Dave

Su showing Sid his present from Chicken Dave

During their perimeter security walk the three of them had bumped into some old friends of Chicken Dave who were doing a health walk for their hearts.

The Christchurch Cardiac Walkers from Hitchin had taken a day out from their art classes to come and see some bluebells and if you look closely you can just see them in the distance. (Sid of course could still smell them quite easily).

 

The good and sheltered pathway makes for a pleasant walk around the farm

The good and sheltered pathway makes for a pleasant walk around the farm

 

 

 


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Wednesday Walkies with Sid the Sheepdog

sid the police dog

Sid-napped!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chicken Dave went for his lesson as usual on Wednesday morning but……

There was no Sid!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sid was missing and his main student Su was also missing.

Surely they must have been Sid – napped.

Feeling distraught Chicken Dave searched everywhere, the café, the chick shed, Rural Care, the lambs, the cows and of course the chickens and pigs.

But Sid was nowhere to be seen (of course he was worried about Su as well but really he was missing Sid).

He felt silly going for a walk by himself so got out his camera and took some pictures of the animals around the farm.

While he was doing this to take his mind off his missing dog he wondered where Sid might have gone.

dog races

Perhaps Su had taken Sid to become a racing dog?

cute dog - c

What if Sid had been swapped for another, smaller, cuter, better behaved dog!

week 9 sheep

Or perhaps he had gone to do some special undercover police work as a sheep?

Next week – what happened to Sid (and Su of course).