Rowan has been volunteering at the farm for 2 years. She had some free time and wanted to volunteer, but it was important to her to do something physical, healthy and outside. She used to visit with her children when they were younger, and so thought that the farm would be ideal.
Rowan thinks the best part about volunteering here is is meeting new people and being outside in the fresh air.
The worst bit was during a cold spell in the winter and her trousers froze!
Volunteering has improved Rowan’s physical and mental wellbeing a lot. She says that it is really nice to have a connection to a place and the people in it. She also values the opportunity to have learnt not to be frightened of animals and learn where food comes from. Rowan and her family also really enjoyed looking after the cockerel on the right of the picture. He was the only chick that hatched from a batch of eggs the farm was hatching. So Rowan took him home and reared him with her boys. When he was older he was introduced to our general flock of hens. Now he is a handsom strapping cockerel.
Rowan’s boys are members of the 26th Bristol Scouts and Beavers who have taken part in lots of fundraising for the farm by doing activities such as cake sales. They raised the money to buy one of our current breeding sows and got to name her – Spotty.
Rowan’s boys love coming down in the holidays, and they say the best bit is helping out, mucking out and of course, the chickens!
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.
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.
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.