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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
It was a brilliant day on the Farm on Saturday with all kinds of ancient woodland crafts being demonstrated in Watervole Woodland.
There was charcoal making in the central fire. Charcoal is partially burnt wood and was once a major fuel source. Producing it provided a livehood for wood colliers (charcoal makers). Although we now only tend to think of it for barbeques, it has been used for thousands of years to smelt metal ore. On Saturday however, we made brilliant drawings with it.
‘It was a fun activity.’ Louise aged 7
We also had hurdle making – weaving willow withies between posts or rods traditionally made of hazel. These trees would have been coppiced, to ensure a steady supply of wood and withies. Coppicing is where the tree has been cut down to a stump and new growth emerges as useful regular sized poles and was an essential part of ancient woodland managment, ensuring a steady supply of wood. Hurdles were used as temporary, moveable fencing. A visitor commented that they liked the willow and seeing how the hurdles were made.
There was also the opportunity to try out some green woodworking techniques – a way of creating beautiful, useful objects, from unseasoned wood.
We also made a well known drink, the old fashioned way. Dandelion and burdock roots were scrubbed, and then crushed in a pestle and mortar for the first stages in making this delicious cordial. People had the opportunity to try some that we’d made earlier in the week.
Crushing the roots in a pestal and mortar
Someone asked about a family workshop to learn about spinning wool – so watch this space!
The last few days have seen the small and very wobbly duckling go off for some intensive care with one of our volunteers to see if swimming around in her bath will help strengthen its legs. So we now have four of the original 10 ducklings left. This afternoon (Sunday) they are getting to know the other ducks and having some fun swimming on their pond.
The farm now has two new goats – Snowy and Bambi – thanks to Hemley Farm. The goats are Boer / Sanaan and very lovely. They are quite shy, but starting to get used to the farm staff and volunteers. This week we hope to start taking them out for walks and lead them up to their new paddocks where we hope that they will gobble up the thistles and brambles.
Have you any food?
This week we also had two Polish Frizzle bantams donated – these are out on the grass in a run during the daytime. They are amazingly fluffy and very tame.
One of the farm’s lambs unfortunately got caught by flystrike (a nasty injury that can kill them if left untreated) this week. The sheep were all due to be re-treated next week so this is a real shame. The lamb has been treated and is fully recovered, but if you are visiting the farm you will see that one of the lambs has a bald patch where we needed to trim it’s wool.
Next week we will have mutton for sale. There will be chops, mince and smaller joints at very reasonable prices