Last week we had four Yr10 students here to do their work experience.
The students are from different schools, but had all chosen to come to the farm. Kian likes animals and had worked with horses before, Henial likes animals and is local to the farm. Emma had worked with chickens before and wanted more hands on experience as did Meg.
They all loved everything about working on the farm, being outdoors and working with the animals, and said that they would definitely love to come back. They all felt that volunteering on the farm had improved their confidence and given them practical skills for other areas of their lives.
Their favourite part was the goats. Kian and Henial’s worst part was digging hole, Meg and Emma’s worst part was carrying brambles.
This week Sunday Farm Hands got really experimental with the herbs growing on the farm. Here on of them tells us all about it in their own words……
First we went to the garden to try some herbs. We smelt them and tasted them. I really liked the sage, it was hard and chewy with a flavour I really liked. The herbs we tried were (clockwise from the top) parsley, rosemary, fennel, sage, marjoram and chives. After that we washed them and put them in cups with some beaten egg and popped them in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make mini omelettes . We then put them in two bowls and ate them all up! Sage was still a favourite, but I also really liked the marjoram. Then we took some cuttings from the herbs and took them to the polytunnel and put them in plant pots, to make new plants. We also took some plants home for cooking . After that I filled up some watering cans and watered some plants near the polytunnel. At the end we went to put the guinea pigs and chickens away. I carried a chicken and a guinea pig into the barn.
We had a great day last week with our Apple Day in our Community Orchard. A Forgotten Landscape had brought along their apple press, and lots of delicious apple juice was made. ALS were available to give advice about energy saving. A choir sang autumnal songs and there was some great story telling from Michael Loder.
There was an opportunity to learn about different grains and try your hand at making flour. We soon found out how hard it was! Although fun too! During the summer we grew crops that are used to make vegetable oils, near the chickens. Samples were available to taste – flaxseed or linseed, rapeseed and sunflower oil. A quick opinion poll was that the flaxseed was bitter, the rapeseed was nice, a bit like olive oil, and the sunflower didn’t really have a taste.
Brandon Trust have also been busy this Autumn, making cider vinegar, chutneys and Halloween decorations, which were available to buy from their stall.
Paul has been volunteering with us for 5 months. He helps with farm maintenance such as fencing, cutting the grass, cutting weeds back and painting. He’s recently done a great job painting our vegetable stall, guinea pig run and the front gate.
Paul says volunteering on the farm has really helped his peace of mind. He much prefers to be out in the fresh air and he likes to have a job that he can see makes a difference. For example he loves it when he can see people enjoying Community Orchard after he’s cut the grass. It’s important to him to be able to a job that he can work of from start to finish.
Paul loves volunteering at the farm as it’s a nice place to come and visit and he can see life carryng on all around him.
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.
Amy has been volunteering at the farm for a year now. She came here to do her work experience with us as she is studying Animal Care at SGS Filton College. She is now doing a Level II Diploma in Animal Care.
Amy chose the farm as she thought it looked good, and was local to her. She loves coming to the farm every week and being with the goats and the piglets. She had never worked with animals before, so she has learnt everything from scratch. However, she can now do the whole morning and afternoon routine on her own!
Amy feels that volunteering at the farm has really increased her self confidence and self esteem. This has been due to the friendly nature of the farm and everyone who works here, and also being supported while taking on responsibilities.
Amy loves the guinea pigs, and has taken a great photo of them.
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.
As the season slides from high Summer into early Autumn, so the produce available from the garden changes. In the Farm’s garden we currently have courgettes, beetroot, Turk’s Turban and some large green squashes. This glorious Indian Summer is ripening up the tomatoes and squashes, which were a bit behind due the stormy and cooler weather in August.
We also have some lovely beetroot – which is delicious raw grated into salads, roasted or boiled.
We have grown some unusual black french beans, which make an interesting addition to salads or on their own as a side dish with butter or olive oil.
Some flowers come into their own at this time of year. Ice plant or sedums provide late season nectar for butterflies, bees and other insects, so are always a pretty and useful addition to any garden.
If you’d like to volunteer as a gardener either with vegetables or in the wildlife garden please ring Ian on 01179381128 or email him at email@example.com
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.