PIP'S PAGE Winter 2008-2009
Dear Friends, We didn't realise it was so long since we added to our journal! Time has rushed along since September and we have done so many interesting things.
Joy and Eddy, one of our volunteers, went on a woodlands course at Towneley park. They learnt about woodland management, the different types of trees to grow for different purposes like fencing, livestock shelter and firewood. How to look after the trees so that they grow well. There was a bee keeping part of the day as well. Did you know that out of every 5 mouthfuls of food we eat, 3 would be non existent without bees and other pollinating insects? We need to look after bees.
Joy has some bees at the farm and the honey is sold at ‘It's All Good' in Helmshore. Joy's bees live in hives in a shed as it's a bit breezy sometimes up on our hill. Joy's decided that we need more bees to pollinate the orchard and fruit and vegetable gardens so is planning some in other parts of the farm.
Another part of the woodland day was spent learning about growing different types of mushrooms. Joy thinks that her students will be fascinated by how totally differently they grow and she is planning a mycelium ( that's the correct word for mushrooms) growing area in her woods. The students love cooking and if any do grow we shall try some new recipes.
Food producing' woodland gardens' were also part of the days work. Joy didn't realise that there were so many varieties of edible plants that would tolerate some shade. I can see she'll be wanting to try that next. She's busy making a new hen house on the muck heap wall at present. When the hens are any distance from the farm house the fox keeps taking them so this seems a good idea.
We started our hedge laying this year with a course run by award winning Ralph Lee. The workers made a very promising job of 2 sections and now our farm staff are starting work on 5 more lengths on the farm. Laying the hedges tight is really important for the small birds. Predators like sparrow hawks, magpies, jays and possibly grey squirrels can't get into the thicket to take the eggs or chicks. The hedge also becomes really dense so is a good stock boundary and offers shelter to the sheep against the wind and weather. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRY HEDGE LAYING WE SHALL BE WORKING FROM 19TH JANUARY GIVE JOY A RING ON 01706218614 AND COME AND WATCH.
The heat exchanger has been an ongoing project since September but now we are on the last straight. Green wood chippings were donated by a kind local tree surgeon and tipped right near to the site which was really useful. And then we made a base of chips before we started burying the coiled pipes in layers. Some students and their carers helped with this. The pile steamed. We had to use some mesh to hold all of the pile together as we didn't want the hens scratching it out! They love to stand on the pile to keep their feet warm! The heat exchanger will act as a pre- heat for our central heating reducing our oil bill, carbon footprint and emissions. We already have a silver green tourism award we need to try for gold.
At the beginning of December when we had a big freeze! The road up the hill to the farm was a sheet of ice, the yard was really dangerous and we had a birthday party for 12 boys and girls. Joy salted all Alden Road and the big parking area so the parents and children could arrive safely. Then she decided that we would have to do a farm explorer's party with a difference. The children all had little brown carrier bags for treasures and we set off around the fields collecting. Meanwhile Mac had put the party lunch in the tree house. There was no room up there for all the adults but plenty of space for a couple of mums, Joy and the birthday children. The dads had to have a turn afterwards. We had such a good time that we shall do it again without the ice!!
We had Country Christmas open day for families. We made all sorts of decorations out of recycled materials, sang carols did our own nativity play with our visitors and then Father Christmas came with presents for everyone. We made candle holders from old CD's, bird feeders from small logs, Christmas Crowns and coloured snowflake patterns with tissue on more old CD's. Everyone had a wonderful time.
Christmas was really busy; students worked together to produce a great Christmas dinner with all the trimmings as well as making rolling pins with Eddy to roll out the pastry for mince pies. The rolling pins were presents for their mums. The menu was roast British chicken, potatoes and parsnips. Sausages and bacon cabbage, carrots and Brussel sprouts. Some of the produce was grown on the farm.