The year seemed to start in earnest in March! The weather was relatively good which meant we cracked on with a lot of jobs. The main project this month was getting the container onto site and we had 2 deliveries of hardcore to facilitate this. Lots of heavy work shifting gravel but many hands made light work of it and after a few hours it was done! We also built foundations for the container to keep it off the ground (and level!)
The poultry team (and more importantly the chickens!) were pleased when the requirement to house birds inside was lifted this month and they were finally allowed out into their enclosure again. We still have to restrict access to the pens and disinfect feet, equipment etc. but the birds seem much happier and have started laying lots of eggs again. These will be on sale at the farm gate on workdays from now on when supplies allow.
In the polytunnel we have already started to harvest some of the veg as well as sowing seeds for this years’ crop. Last year we invested in some propagators which along with the polytunnel have made a real impact on lengthening our growing season. The weather has also helped!
We also welcomed 5 little pigs to the farm in March. They came as 10 week old weaners and have now settled in well to life on the farm.
And finally, March saw the return of the Annual Homebrew competition where members compete to win the coveted trophy! The deserved winner this year was Tracey with her Blackberry Wine, 2nd place was Tim with his cider and 3rd Harry with his Loxley Grape. The standard of entries has improved over the years with this years finalists all being fairly drinkable! Entries are already on the go for 2018!
February seemed to be a month of fixing gates! On the first workday of the month we replaced the main farm gate with a Heras vehicle gate. This made the entrance 2 foot wider which is required so we can get deliveries only to the site. We needed to do this as we are getting a container for tool storage and it would have struggled to get through the existing gate opening.
The second workday was spent preparing the lower pig pen for new weaners (10 week old pigs) which will shortly arrive on the farm. We cut down the main farm gate to make a 5 foot gate for the pig pen which will allow us to load the pigs onto the trailer more easily. We also repaired the pig arc, cleared the pen of rubbish and fixed the trough against the fence so we won’t have to go into the pen when we feed then.
Elsewhere on the farm the chickens were still confined to a netted run due to avian flu so there isn’t much going on with poultry this month.
We have also started to sow the first of this years veg crop in the polytunnel which should withstand any frosts as the tunnel retains the heat quite well. Outside we started preparing some bath tubs with compost for planting next month. This is a trial into a different way of growing – hopefully it will result in lots of crops!
The January sunshine at our first workdays of 2017 attracted the most people we have seen at a workday for a while! With more than 20 volunteers we soon cracked on with the jobs.
Due to restrictions on housing our chickens because of the Avian Flu outbreak our birds had been inside since the start of December. As it had been announced that they are now to be housed inside for a further 2 months we started the day by enlarging their netted area so they could have a little more space. (Further details about the restrictions can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#backyard-flocks)
Elsewhere on the site we were working on our plans to get a container for secure storage so we cut back lots of overgrowing branches and cleared the undergrowth so we would be able to get a delivery lorry onto site. We also started constructing a base to move our “Penthouse” shed to a new location that will allow us to get water plumbed in and provide a cleaner area for making drinks.
We have also been offered a regular delivery of horse manure so we constructed some compost bins for it to be left to rot.
All is relatively quiet on the veg front with mainly tidying and pruning tasks this month but we did manage to pot up some strawberries into drainpipes which we are going to suspend from the polytunnel roof. This free-d up a bed in the polytunnel which we can use for something else. We will have to see how well they grow later in the year.
We have been working on building a roundhouse in memory of Dave Buckle who was a member of the project. The plan is for it to have a living roof, with a whole in the centre so we can have small campfires inside during the cooler months. Work has been ongoing throughout the winter and we now have the main structure completed.
Over the past couple of weeks we have been hard at work preparing the land and constructing a polytunnel. We have got the frame up – just waiting for a nice day to get the polythene on! This will create a family friendly growing area which we hope will encourage more families to join us.