Volunteer April has recently carried out a great project with Blaise Weston Court, a local extra care scheme for the elderly. She took an incubator and some eggs to the home, so they could see the chicks as they hatched.
April described what she did – “I used an incubator to imitate a hen sitting on the eggs. It works by rocking the eggs gently over the day and monitoring the humidity which should be ideally between 40-50%. However, temperatures will fluctuate just like they would with a mother hen as she will sit for a
while then walk about, resulting in the eggs getting cooler.”
The project aimed to build a connection with the local elderly home and the farm. “The residents loved it! They spent a lot of time looking at the eggs and checking when they were going to start to hatch. They were very excited when it started to happen.” described April
The project also helped us to discover how fertile our cockerals are, and the new chicks will help us build up our flock.
I began volunteering in Feb 2016 when I was doing my Animal Care course. I was coming to the farm twice a week (Wed and Fri), in order to complete my work experience hours for college. I completed my course in July 2016. Having finished my course I realised how much I enjoyed working with the farm animals and people, so I decided to continue as a volunteer.
I have continued volunteering every Friday, even though I have recently got a job in WH Smith, I still want to volunteer as often as possible. I used the farm as a reference when I applied for my job and I believe my experience at the farm has been very useful, particularly when talking to customers and working with other staff.
I really enjoyed helping out with the Farm Tots on a Wednesday which I now miss due to work. I hope I will continue to make time for volunteering at the farm as its very beneficial to me, and I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of giving it a go…
Andrew has been volunteering on the farm twice a week for 8 years! He loves coming, and turns up whatever the weather, rain or shine.
His favourite jobs are collecting the eggs, refilling the poultry drinkers and giving the chickens their corn.
Today Andrew was collecting windfalls for the pigs. We have Gloucester Old Spot pigs – another name for them is Orchard Pigs as they used to be kept in the apple orchards that were once very common in the west country.
Andrew is also branching out and volunteering in our Community Cafe at weekends. He likes working there as it is very different from the farm – he has to dress smartly and stay nice and clean.
Andrew used the farm’s tablet to take some pictures of his favourite animals.
Liam has been volunteering with us since January. He was on the Animal Management and Conservation course at SGS College in Filton and came to us for his work experience. He chose the farm because it was local to him and we had different animals from the usual house pets.
Liam loves volunteering here and working with the different animals – he says he is never bored! He has lots of fun and especially loves it when the piglets are born. He has enjoyed seeing the changes over the last 11 months including the building of the cafe. Liam also helps out with Farm Tots, our regular hands on session for under 5s and their carers. He brings out a hen every week so that the children can see one up close and stroke it.
The only aspect of volunteering here that Liam doesn’t like is working in the rain!
Recent Liam got a job at Macdonald’s. He feels that volunteering at the farm really helped with this, as his confidence with people and the public in general has really improved. His other employability skils have also improved such as being able to turn up regularly and reliably on time.
Liam took a picture his favourite animals – the naughty goats.
We recently had two volunteers from the European Voluntary Programme come to the Farm. They shared their experience with us.
Our experience in Lawrence Weston Community Farm
It has been a wonderful month. From the first till the last day, it was a great experience that we will never forget. Those four weeks we had the opportunity to connect with nature and work in a beautiful outdoor environment with a pretty relaxing atmosphere. We got to meet and work with great and friendly people that were always there for us, helping us to improve our English skills and we are grateful for that. We came closer to animals and feel comfortable with them. We got the chance to learn loads of new things about animal care as well as gardening and plants which made us more environmentally aware. We most certainly recommend this experience to everyone.
Galatea and Elena from Italy and Greece.
Michelle has been coming to the farm for over a year. She does amazing work with Scott. She loves to do a variety of jobs during her morning with us, but says she also looks forward to her tea break! Michelle does a great deal of gardening including weeding, sowing seeds, potting on and watering the plants. She is very good at knowing which plants need watering and which plants are weeds. Her favourite jobs are collecting the eggs and feeding weeds to the chickens and pigs.
Will has been volunteering with us since he was at school. He started at the weekends because he wanted to look after animals. Since then he enrolled on a Level 3 Subsidary Diploma in Animal Management and Conservation. He now does one day a week work experience with us. He thinks that his previous voluntary work at the farm gave him a head start on his course.
Will loves looking after the animals especially feeding, handling the animals and locking up at the end of the day. He is quick to point out however, that all the jobs are important.
Will feels that volunteering has been really helpful with his course as he has been learning why jobs and tasks are carried out in a certain way and about the importance of animal welfare. He has enjoyed having some responsibility and likes animals even more. He has even changed some of his eating habits.
This spring he has been learning some gardening as well – this is a new aspect to his volunteering and he finds it quite satisfying.
Will likes being on the farm as he prefers to be outdoors – except when the weather is horrible!
Here are a few pictures that Will has taken of his favourite bits of the farm.
We are in the middle of our breeding plan for next spring at the moment. The Jacob sheep are pregnant and we have another ram with the other sheep at the farm, so we hope to have lambs being born over a few weeks from the end of February onwards.
Rufus the Gloucester Old Spot boar on loan from Bath City Farm arrived here at the weekend and is due to be introduced to Jasmine and Blossom later on this afternoon. Although it is very muddy the pigs are still able to enjoy going outdoors occasionally.
Handsome Rufus the Boar – let’s hope Jasmine and Blossom like him!
Rufus getting to know the girls
Between me, Ian and the volunteers we have managed to remember to look after the eggs in our incubator and were thrilled that 3/4s of them hatched. We now have the eight female chicks under a heat lamp in the stable block quickly turning from balls of fluff into little birds.
The goats are due to go off to visit a billy in a month or so. The goats are growing rapidly and touch wood have got their heads stuck in the fence less and less every week.
We have been doing some spinning at the weekend, especially during the wet weather. The Saturday Farm Hands have been able to have a go after the workshop and have learned to spin a little on a drop spindle.
We now have our freezers well stocked with pork joints, chops, slices, plenty of lamb including a few legs left and a new batch of sausages. Current flavours are chilli and garlic, Cumberland and traditional plain sausages.
In the farm yard there have been a few changes over the last weeks. Most startlingly we have brought in some new pigs – the three little pigs will be with us until they are big enough for slaughtering. The current plan is to take the young boar (AKA piggy) and the biggest of the three little pigs to the abattoir together in around 6 weeks. At around 16 weeks the white pig weighs approx 40kg. Piggy is currently a bit over 70 kgs. The four male pigs have recently been introduced to each other and seem to be getting on very well. We had been concerned that the boar was a bit fed up – the company should cheer him up!
Right now our new three Jacob sheep have gone to visit the ram over at Windmill Hill City Farm for the next six weeks. This way we hope to have pure Jacob lambs in the spring. We will find a different ram for the other three ewes and two lambing periods. Three lambs have recently been slaughtered, so although we have temporarily run out of sausages there is plenty of lamb and a little mutton left in the freezers.
The goats seem pretty much okay with the sheep during the daytime. We will move them in to the main stable block soon to make moving the flock backwards and forwards. So at the moment we only have three ewes, five lambs and the two goats on site.
Two of the main flock of hens are visiting the welsummers at the moment – most specifically as this way their eggs will be fertilised. By using a gold or red cockerel (welsummer) with a silver breed (the visiting Light Sussex) we will be able to hatch out hybrid chickens that apart from laying more, browner eggs can be sex-linked at day old. Anyone with a pet snake please get in touch!
The ducklings are now 11 weeks old. In the end 9 hatched and lived – one with a bent leg is now being cared for by one of our volunteers at home, four sold to a local farmer for her duck pond and the last four will be for sale once they get to point of lay in about 8 weeks time.
In July the long awaited goats arrived. They obviously missed their mother to start with but now seem to be rather enjoying life! The goats we have bought are Boer / Saanan so a cross between the best meat and milking goats. Bambi and Snowy are twins and get on extremely well. With the help of the volunteers we are starting to halter train them, not just to be able to move them around the farm easily but perhaps with a view to taking them to shows in the future. They like climbing, eating hedges and other typical goat activities!
Settling in to their new home
Learning to walk on the halters
In the top paddock
We also have three new Jacob Sheep. These newcomers from across the bridge arrived in the pouring rain first thing on Saturday morning and are now acclimatising to their new home. All three are 2013 ewe lambs, white with brown spots they look the same at a glance but after a while it isn’t difficult to tell the difference.
Blossom and Piggy, Jasmine’s piglets are growing a bit slowly but this is probably due to their breed as much as their mother gobbling up their food. We feel sorry for Piggy the young boar who is now segregated from the others. If you are in the vegetable garden please don’t forget to take him some windfall apples as well as the other pigs. And stop for a chat as he is a bit lonely. However, he has to be seperated or he would try to mate with Blossom and Jasmine.