Volunteering Stories

Ben has been volunteering with us since last autumn.  He started coming to Green Woodworking on a Monday, and subsequently became interested in volunteering for the Farm.  Ben works in the woodland, and also with the animals. He has worked in the orchard strimming the grass.

He is also doing the John Muir Award. The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration. As part of the award Ben is identifying flowering plants in Water Vole Woodland.  He feels that it is important to learn to identify plants as we can then ‘understand the world we live in better.’  He also thinks that ‘in this commercial world it is good to know where things come from’ for example wood and the plants that medicines are derived from. Ben is going going to share his growing knowledge with other people  through posts on Facebook, a chart in the volunteer cabin and maybe some leafeltes or an information board.

Ben likes working on the Farm and feels more confident than he used to as he can help with things. He thinks that it is good to deal with food production and animals as these things are ‘the basics of life.’

Ben also feels like he is helping with his local community and has met lots of new people in a friendly atmosphere.  He really enjoys volunteering.

 

 

Volunteering Stories

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.

Chewing things over – by Mei – An

So I rocked up to Lawrence Weston Farm on the 21st May 2014. It wasn’t by chance, I had intended to make this trip, despite rarely visiting Farms since childhood and only fulfilling the interest a couple of random times post my teen years. I liked ogling at animals online, watching their hilarious videos on the social viewing phenomena that is YouTube and thinking one day it might be good fun to frequent somewhere one day that I could ogle and view such things in person. Cyber land is good to find and see things you have little chance of seeing, meeting and smelling (yes, I meant to say that) in real life, but there really isn’t anything better than the real deal if you can reach out and touch it properly. That in one is why when searching for a new volunteer job on the Volunteer Do.it.com website and seeing a Farm option listed to apply to, I thought it was an opportunity too rare and random not to ignore. There have been a few Volunteer jobs over the past years that I’ve had a jolly, so why couldn’t this one potentially be any different, I thought when sending my details through. No doubt a Farm placement would have the same benefits of any other volunteer job in equipping you with new skills, allowing you to meet new people and the bonus of working in an environment that appealed to. In this case, this particular environment you don’t get to pick very often when it comes to a local Farm. Instead of canvassing for charities, or standing front of house (or be it behind a pop up table) at some type of festival event, why not feed, cleanout and talk nonsense to pigs, sheep and various types poultry for a change, amongst doing other things. The prospect sounded good to me, and if I found the opportunity (if able to seal it) not ultimately to my liking after a few sessions, I could at least say I tried, and thank all responsible for being able to at least have a go.

I can say 9 months on from stepping on this small Farm in what feels like the middle of nowhere sometimes, despite not actually being the case at all, it was, and still is, worth it. Here are just some pictures and captions of my time so far on my Farm volunteer venture.

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What sealed the deal for me to come and volunteer here at Lawrence Weston Farm was the prospect of being able to see these three porkers on a regular basis. But not just see and pet them, but feed them, clean them out, watch them pork up and hopefully bond enough with them so I could hug them one day. Jasmine is the mahoosive one laid up. She probably fell over due to the mini stampede for her milk.  The small porkers sucking on Jasmine are her piggy-kiddies, Blossom, obviously a girly, and her unnamed son.

This small army of waddlers are the resident Muscovy Ducks, consisting of one male and his harem of female followers. They have this weird neck movement that they do regularly, and think they rule the duck-roost over their other closely inhabiting Indian Runner and KC ducks. They are Mexican though, so maybe the neck move is just a part of their native jig and we should all join in.

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These little lambs were some of the friendliest animals I had come across. Just like dogs, they just love some attention and a good cha with a few pats. Their coats feel amazing, very snugglesome. They were small when I first clasped eyes on them, and with young public members.

Oct 14

The first week in June was my first official day, after having visited for casual viewing purposes before that. After a bizarre bus incident in the busy morning rush, I finally got in around 10.a.m. With my feet firmly on Farm soil (and small stones that get wedged in between your soles), it was Ian Fielder that I had the pleasure of being greeted by and being shown the first proper steps of how to.., when to… and why, regarding the animals and their care. Finally getting to walk around these animals with their bobbing animals heads (still firmly attached to bodies) in their array of sizes, facial features and ways of animal talk that make little sense to me but probably plenty to them, I decided I liked it so much that I made the easy decision to return, again, and again and again.

The experience on the Farm is a relaxed and chatty one. There isn’t the same feeling of pressure and anxiety that you can sometimes feel doing other work, Volunteer or otherwise. That is the immediate difference I found with this place when I arrived here, it’s a much more free and easy environment, and the Farm staff are friendly, helpful and informative. In my case, I have mainly worked alongside an allocated member of staff and other volunteers in a combination of Animal and Gardening activities. You have a schedule to work to on the Farm (especially in the case with daily animal feeding) and you are not left in a situation that you wouldn’t be able to handle or that staff felt you were not responsible enough to apply yourself in. This Farm has numerous volunteers, and all are helped in relation to how they can ‘muck in’ in whatever areas best suit them, whether for a part of the day or for all of it. The case may be that you will gain new interests having spent some time some that you didn’t think you would. Initially my main interest on arrival here was the animals. However, getting the opportunity to do some planting and seeing vegetables pop out of the ground after having spent time bedding them into the soil, was a rather nice thing to see. No matter how small, you can find a sense of achievement in something that you otherwise had little knowledge or contact with before.

In the early stages of becoming acquainted with the way of things, you work alongside a member of staff and, in some cases (as is with mine) sometimes other volunteers too, so you always have someone to share dialogue with and discuss farm, environment or other areas of interest, with. If you work at the Farm over a longer period of time, you are trusted to do more things individually without a staff member, and to have more input into how you spend the day in between scheduled activities. At the Farm they want you to enjoy your time here and be yourself. Talking and taking on each others’ viewpoints is a two way street.

Farm Jan 2015

In September, much to my delight, we had some new piggy additions to the Farm. All male and all with the potential to add to the viewing pleasure at the Farm in the meantime, along with later financial benefits when the time came for them to meet the butcher (no point in pretending that doesn’t happen, as sad as it can be). Luckily I got to choose which pigs, out of the 6 (or so) that arrived, that I wanted to come to us. We were in the market for 3, so with my piggy-eye, I chose what I thought to be the most beautiful and already porkiest specimens. As boys they weren’t allowed to mingle with Jasmine and Blossom (our lady pigs), but our longer resident male pig, that is unnamed, got the pleasure of their company instead. He was slightly bigger than the new boys, and so usually got first dibs on what bowl to feed out of first, and sometimes in addition, second to one that had already been cleaned out, the greedy pig. I found since watching the boy pigs together how, one, they really smell after going to the toilet, and, two, how they also love a bit of friendly argy-bargy. Maybe a form of pig-banter.

 

 

Cafe Build 6

It has been all go at the farm over the last couple of weeks!  The contractors have been digging a trench from the road to the cafe, to connect it to the utilities.  As you can imagine, this has made the farm rather muddy. The goats were very interested in the trench and tried to climb in, when they were on the way to their field.

We were hoping the excavators would make an exciting archaeological discovery, but the only thing they have found so far, is a large stone.

The Stone

The Stone

The scaffolding has now been removed from the cafe, and we can really see how it is going to look.

 

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Soon it the contractors will begin completing the interior and fitting out the cafe.

Farm Hands – Saturday 10th January ……. a busy day indeed!

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Today we were lucky enough to have 4 Farm Hands in both our morning and afternoon groups so we were able to get lots of work done!

This morning we practiced our animal handling, cleaned out the rabbit pen, fed the pigs some carrots, collected the eggs and enjoyed some well earned hot chocolates.

This afternoon we mucked out the big chicken shed (a bit of a stinky job!), introduced some new chickens into the flock and herded them all into their freshly made beds.

Good work all round!! 🙂

 

Volunteering Stories

Ellie has been volunteering with us for 3 years.  She started as a weekend volunteer while she was still at school.  Now she attends SGS in Filton and comes to the Farm once a week for her work experience.  She doing  Animal Care Level 2 Diploma.

She says that the experiences she gained whilst volunteering at the Farm have definitely helped her deal with the transition from school to college and helped her get on her course.  Skills such as being able to work as part of a team, time management, the ability to use her initiative and to work on her own have been vital.

Ellie has also just started a job with British Home Stores at The Mall.  She says that volunteering at the Farm helped her get this job because they were impressed with her volunteering commitment and that she seemed very mature for her age.  The Farm also provided Ellie with a reference, which can be hard to come by when you’re young.

Ellie still loves coming to the Farm and has always valued being treated as an adult and being given responsiblity.

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Cafe Build 5

The community cafe and training room is really taking shape now as the roof goes on and we can see how big it is.  There will be lots of room in the wifi connected training room to run all kinds of courses.  However, it won’t be just course based training taking place there,  the cafe and kitchen itself will be the focus of practical, work orientated learning.

First the roof timbers went on.

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Then a layer of wood panelling. The boxed holes are where the skylights will be.

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Insulation was put on and then the final roof cladding.

 

 

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Next trenches will be dug through the farm to connect the utilities to the building.  This will be carried out in a cut-and-cover manner to cause minimum disruption to the public and to continue to allow the movements of the animals.

 

Livestock Update

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.

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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.

Welsummer Chicks

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.

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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.

Juley Community Farmer

Volunteering Stories

Back to Work with the Farm

Liz’s Story

Liz is a volunteer at the farm and she recently got a cleaning job.

Liz said ‘Coming to the farm has kept me busy and made me more employable.
I still want to get a job in animal care but this job will keep me going and I’ll still pop in from time to time to volunteer. I told my new employer about my volunteering work that I am sure helped me get my job.’

Liz

April’s Story

April has volunteered at the farm for over 4 years whilst still at school. She has just got a Saturday job working in a bakery.  However, she will also carry on doing her work experience on a Tuesday at the farm while she continues with her college course.

April said ‘Working on the farm has helped improve my working experience, dealing with members of the public and communication skills working with a variety of different people. I feel confident in myself thanks in part to the farm and the opportunities and skills that I have learnt. I will continue to use the farm as a reference when applying for work in the future.’

Farm Hands Saturday 18th October

Quote from the Farm Hands themselves today ‘Wonderful day working with our new Farm Hand’. Over the past couple of weeks the 2 groups of Farm Hands have taken part in everything from goat walking to garlic planting. Lots of hard work and muddy boots all round.

 

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