Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Back to hard work....

looking for a handout:
Alan Entwistle
I had a fab time in Dorset and Devon over Easter but it was good to be back at the farm this week. It all seemed very lush and productive after the heavy showers we've had recently - it is April! After a spot of weeding in the big polytunnel during a particulalry heavy shower this morning we were out in the wooded area where we're getting on with creating a new run for the chickens  We've cleared a nice big area of brambles and nettles and spent most of today putting up a fence. The spot will be great for the chickens - they'll have much more space to run around in, with dead leaves and rotting bits of wood to turn over and peck at. Hens are naturally woodland birds and love foraging for their food - it keeps them alert and happy, as well as providing them with a varied diet - which, of course, means better eggs for us!
Hedgehog by Tina_S_White
on the prowl! Tina_S_White
While we were pile driving stakes into the ground to hold up the chicken wire someone mentioned that they hadn't seen any hedgehogs at the farm - not surprising since they are nocturnal animals...but I'd be very surprised if there aren't any around. I've got a very noisy one in my Wolverton garden. It snuffles and snorts around in the dark and once it walked into my leg - a very weird experience in the half light! They travel long distances - up to two miles - in a night looking for food so it could make it to the farm. It might still be a bit early in the year to spot them, but they will be coming out of hibernation soon, ready for breeding in May/ June. I did see a pair of hedgehogs breeding once - the male walks closely round and round the female until she goes a bit gooey eyed and sort of hypnotised and lies flat on the floor with her quills flattened. It was fascinating watching them.... and then there were babies... which was lovely but they were very sadly killed when a friend came round one evening and accidently dropped his motorcycle on them....hey ho!
But,I'm very relieved to say that the wildlife at the farm is thriving....we've got loads of tadpoles in the pond and there's still toad spawn wrapped round the weeds. There were frogs and toads keeping warm in the polytunnels, the birds are active and really enjoying the April weather, the fruit trees are coming into blossom and all the veggies are looking very healthy.
On a more serious note, it's not surprising that some of the trainees at the farm have anger management issues. Nothing happened this week but we do get the odd explosion every now and then. I'm full of admiration for the calm way that Sarah and Adrienne ( and Kevin and Heather before them) deal with it. As volunteers we just stay mellow and don't get involved but it is something to think about if you are interested in joining us.

If that hasn't put you off come along on Tuesdays after 10.00 for a chat or contact Dave at : dave_meara@hotmail.com

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