Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The rain comes and still keeps coming...

After a few weeks of relatively dry warm weather, the end of September has been, well.... its been wet! In fact it has been the rain over the last 2 days which has created the most dramatic change in our landscape.

Looking down the Long Meadow towards Tern Hill at Fordhall Farm, the River Tern is normally behind the trees on the left.

Our lovely river at normal levels.
The river tern which surrounds the farm has completely flooded and our meadows are all under water. Our lovely recycled plastic boardwalk which follows the rivers edge is now a bridge, and our wetland meadows are now river beds.

Luckily, at Fordhall we have plenty of higher sandy fields that our cattle and sheep can retreat to. Meaning they still have somewhere relatively dry to graze.

Although it looks dramatic, allowing land on fields like ours to flood does mean there is less water travelling into people's homes and businesses further down the river course. Just as floodplain land should.

And if we are lucky when the river levels subside, they may leave behind some fertile silt for our pastures.

The view from my office window. The sheep at least can retreat to higher drier ground.

Fingers crossed for a bit of dry weather...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pies at Ludlow Food Festival!

Last weekend(7th – 9th September), we packed up the vans with 1500 porkpies, 20 cases of meat and a selection of merchandise and trundled down to Ludlow Castle to take part in the famous Ludlow Food Festival. We had a fantastic spot inside the marquee that was full to the brim of foodie artisans from all around the local areas.  I could have spent a fortune over the three days!

Our stall soon caught the attention of the hordes of people walking around the marquee, as Wally (the baker) laid out his porkpies in a very artistic fashion. I tried to help layout one morning, but didn't do it quite right apparently…Who’d have thought laying out porkpies could be so hard!
Wally's beautiful pie pattern

The days were long, but good fun. It’s a great opportunity to meet people from all over the country. Many people we spoke to were shareholders, those who weren’t took part in our raffle to win a share in Fordhall Organic Farm – we had a lucky winner in Mr Kennedy, whose share certificate shall be winging its way to him shortly!
If there were no farms, I would miss...
We also took our "If there were no farms, I would miss..." board. It was a slow start, but we soon had a great selection of answers from people of all backgrounds and all ages.

Food Festival Team
The weekend went well and by Sunday evening we had sold out of porkpies and we were exhausted!  We packed up slowly and made our way home. 

What a busy month September is turning out to be with the Beer and Music Festival at the beginning of the month, Ludlow Food Festival in the middle and the John Kirkpatrick folk evening coming up this weekend…very glad I go on holiday soon…!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beer and Music Success!!

Well, I think I’ve finally caught up with myself after the Beer and Music Festival! 
Saturday morning, the marquee was up, the bar was set and the stage was ready to go – all we needed were the musicians and the crowds!  At 11am, the first of the punters began to show…by 11.30 we had a good gathering and the first band were on. 
Local music, local ale, local food, local sunshine!

A beautiful sound was heard across the farm from the lovely local ladies of Daisy Jaks. They were followed by our very own Katie Caldecott and her magnificent band, Pre Sleep Monologue.  Next up was a very talented local family in the form of Heidi and the Brownies.  On next was Blues Boy Dan with his incredible voice, followed by Moonshine Runners, banjo and all, the day turned into evening with the lovely Rob Jones.  Unfortunately, one act couldn’t make it last minute – but no fear – Jonathon Day came to the rescue with his amazing folk tunes, he gave everyone a taster of what was to come during his world tour (stopping at Fordhall Farm on 27th October).  Brilliant.
Heidi Browne
The Relix got the dancing started with a great variety of party songs and then the Del Ray Rockets took to the stage with their “high-octane rockabilly”.  These guys played an amazing selection of rock’n’roll tracks and threw in some punk and rock covers at the end – the crowd went wild for them!

Emilio hulahooping!

The weather was kind to us all day, which meant that people could sit back in the sun relax and enjoy the local music with a glass of local ale.   Children could get their face painted, play with hula hoops and splat the rat or have a go at welly waning and a sack race (the adults seemed to enjoy having a go at that too).

I woult like to say a huge thank you to all our wonderful volunteers.  They ran the bar, ran the car park, face painted, sold ice cream and manned the gate – as well as helping in the week to build the stage and set up and tidy up on Sunday.
Wonderful Volunteers
Thank you also to all the bands who played throughout the day and to all the local breweries who supplied their ale, Hobsons, Woods, Titanic, Slaters, Three Tunns, Corvedale, Salopian and a special thanks to Market Drayton’s Joules brewery who supported the event.

Here’s to next year’s festival – bring it on!

Monday, September 10, 2012

8 Weeks at Fordhall [Part 3]

Well, doesn't time fly? It only seems like last week that I was given the volunteer induction and tour of the farm and here I am, 8 weeks later, on my last day. What a great 8 weeks!

It’s been a valuable experience. It’s great to know that somewhere in the world; there lies this really nice and open working environment which strives to keep everyday fresh and interesting. Of course, it’s a workplace, but that doesn't stop smiles and progress.

I seem to have landed here at a busy time, which revolves around the beer and  music festival that occurred last week;which was a great success may I add! In my first week, I was adding entries onto event websites for the festival. In my second, I designed the poster. In the third, I was distributing the flyers…all this in amongst the ‘non-beer fest’ work I was doing. I’ve loved every second and I hope to come to all future events here.
Brier and I working at the Beer and Music Fest
Just read my first blog again and it amazes me how fast the time has gone and how much I've taken on board. I'm more comfortable on the phone talking to people and I've felt much more independent on my own in the office. I've felt like a valued member of staff and I couldn’t thank the staff and volunteers here enough for making me feel welcome, and especially to the three girls in the office who gave me the opportunity to work here and who helped me along and made me laugh. A lot.

So to wrap things up, if you came to the festival, I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you all have a great 2012 and if you ever have free time and you'd feel better doing something constructive, I’d recommend coming to Fordhall, even if for just one day a week...Anyway, I’m off to go do uni things now. Thank you for reading my blog, and seeing as I'm coming back in my holidays, this isn’t farewell. It’s speak to you soon. J

William Panter