Monday, March 29, 2010

Fordhall Farmers' Market

Here at Fordhall Farm we are getting very excited about our Farmers' Market on Sunday April 11th.
Our Easter Farmers' Market is the day after our AGM so it is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the great year that the FCLI has had.
We have some great local produce on offer at the Farmers' Market but as well as this there are art activities for children, Easter egg hunts, lots of games for all the family, guided walks, as well as the baby calves and the baby lambs...You will not be bored!
If you have never visited our famous farm before then this is your chance. It is a free event and takes place from 11am - 4pm.

...See you there!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fordhall's stage two gets the green light!

Whoop whoo! Our planning application for the buildings has been accepted!!

For the last three years the Fordhall Community Land Initiative (FCLI) has been planning the development of the Old Dairy and other vital infrastructure improvements at Fordhall, and all this hard work was rewarded last week.

Everyone is very excited as this paves the way for the FCLI to really make the most of Fordhall.

The complete vision, that began in 2006 when the farm was saved from development, is about to turn into reality :-)

Jack Tavernor, one of our wonderful board members and chairman of our Building Working Group says "After the huge struggle to purchase the farm planning approval is fantastic news. It is an essential part of our business plan and emphasises the fact that the Fordhall Community Land Initiative is investing in its infrastructure and moving forwards."

The plan is to renovate the Old Dairy to include space for a classroom, toilets, a local food tearoom, new offices and a new farm shop and butchery. The hope is that schools will have a dry place to gather, our office will now have an indoor toilet and running water, and visitors will be able to grab a healthy and seasonal bite to eat when they visit the farm.

We are working with some wonderful people on this project including Ian from Seven Architecture and Gavin from WCP, both of whom are enabling us to stay on budget whilst creating a creative sustainable building that will ensure Fordhall remains as a beacon for community ownership across the country.
This a large project and it will be a large learning curve for us all, but we are looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully, by this time next year, you will be able to eat a Fordall steak sandwich or a fresh, organic tomato soup on the farm!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Roof is complete!

At last, the roof on the farmhouse is repaired. The builders left a few weeks to go, leaving behind a dry, secure and long-lasting farmhouse roof. We still have insulation to be inserted with the internal boarding and the guttering needs attention, but we are almost there. It is such a relief to know that water will not longer creep in through the cracks, and nothing is in danger of falling down!

In fact, when the builders were on the roof they spotted some serious problems with our chimneys. One had a structural timber running straight through the middle of it! The result was that two of them had to be almost completely rebuilt. We then took the opportunity to line the chimneys and add pots to stop those lovely birds from nesting inside the top rim. Everything was done using lime morta and all the bricks were reused from our store - gathered and stored when old farm buildings have been dismantled.

There is still a lot of work to do to bring the farmhouse back up to standard, but the roof and associated drainage works were by the far the most serious and costly of the projects. As the work inside the farmhouse continues, it remains a bit of a building site, but we know there is an end in sight.

This is the Fordhall Community Land Initiative's greatest asset and as such it is vital that we look after it. Plus what a beautiful building it is :-)

Thank you to the thousands of people who have been contributing to its repair.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A New Life

First of all I would like to introduce myself, I'm Beth and I started at the farm as an admin assistant in January. Since being here I have had such a warm welcome and I'm really enjoying being part of this lovely community, getting to know everyone and learning so much more about how the farm is run.

I have a great love for animals and it is so nice to see all the new life that is appearing, first with the piglets to the lambs and soon the calves. I have always wanted to have a go at lambing and this morning I finally got my opportunity.

Ben came into the office and said there was a ewe about to lamb and asked if I wanted to help, I jumped at the offer, made my way to the barn and was so excited. Ben brought the ewe into a pen with me and a bucket of water. Having never lambed before, Ben talked me through the process of placing my index finger and thumb around one leg and my other fingers around the other leg, making sure I had a good hold ready to pull the lamb out.

After rinsing my hand in water I placed my hand inside the ewe and automatically felt a foot and a nose, the lamb was quite large and the other foot had gone behind the lambs head.

Due to the lamb being so large Ben had to help bring the other leg round for me. When both legs were in the right place I placed my fingers around the legs and gently pulled.

I was so nervous at first that I would hurt the lamb, but Ben assured me I wouldn't, and as I pulled the mother pushed and finally this gorgeous little lamb came out.

I was so happy and overjoyed to see this little bundle was alive and quite healthy. To make sure all the mucas had come from the lambs mouth and nose, Ben put a piece of straw up the nose which made the lamb cough and clear her airway. After making sure the female lamb was ok, I then put my hand back inside to check whether there was another lamb. I could not feel another lamb and Ben checked to make sure and confirmed that there wasn't.

I was so thrilled to help and I'm so happy to have had this amazing experience and am pleased to say that the lamb and mother are both fine. Almost 50 of Ben's 70 Ewes have now lambed and thankfully they have all been successful, which has made everyone happy, especially Ben.

I cannot urge you enough to come and see all of the gorgeous lambs and piglets on Sunday 11th April when the annual Farmers Market will be held. It's a brilliant opportunity to see everything involved with the farm and also to go on the farm trail which has beautiful scenery. Hopefully see you then?!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Some sheep just have to be different........

If you are a regular reader to the blog you will surely recognise this face! It's none other than George who used to write a blog here every week. Well, he has now flown the nest and is found playing out in the fields nowadays....that is until this week....

Lambing has started here at the farm so all the pregnant ewe's have been brought into the lambing barn so that Ben could keep an eye on them. These are all George's mates so he has come in to join them at the moment (we wouldn't want him to be lonely in the field).

Sadly......some sheep just can't help themselves and to our surprise we discovered today that George's favourite trick is squeezing half of himself through the feeding grate in order to chomp on more haylage than his mates! The greedy sheep! Nothing surprises us with George these days but as he is still very friendly and still enjoys fuss from us here in the office we don't mind!

Come and see George at our Farmers' Market on April 11th 2010.

Hannah (George's biggest fan!)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The working weekend

We have just had a fantastic working weekend! Although we are tired this week in the office we are very proud of all the great work that the fantastic volunteers helped us to achieve.

I would strongly suggest popping up for a great day on our Easter Farmers' Market on April 11th and having a look at all the great work. Jobs included: nearly completing the boardwalk, putting in two oak footbridges and a fabulous Pig Ark shelter in the picnic area (perfect for those cold days when you don't want to picnic in the rain!).

The farm trail is almost complete and we do need help to get it finished. So if you can help, please check out our website for dates of up and coming weekends.

Below are a few pictures just to give you a sneak preview of the work we did this weekend.