The farm has seen a burst of new life with the arrival of 24 piglets from our two kune kune sows Bertha and Dawnie. The piglets are already running havoc around the farm and being chased by the sheep. We have already found good pet homes for lots of them and two piglets will be following some of our year six pupils on to their next school.
We have continued to work with our two new Alpacas Diego and Dirado. The children have really gained their trust by hand feeding them and brushing them. We can now walk both of them on halters around the farm area and are hoping to start taking them on longer walks once the weather improves and hardens the ground.
We are looking forward to welcoming new lambs from our flock of Hebridean sheep in the coming weeks. The sheep have had extra nutritious food and mineral licks to prepare them for lambing and we will be bringing them into the cosy barn in the coming days.
The farm has seen lots of movement over the past months and there has been some new arrivals too.
Sadly our oldest Alpaca's health had seen a decline in the past months and after lots of investigations from our vet team it was found he had a liver condition. Sadly it wouldn't improve, so we made the hard decision to have him put to sleep. The children had spent lots of time caring for him and making sure he was comfortable and he will be sadly missed.
This then left our younger Alpaca alone and as they are a herd animal we didn't want to leave him solo for too long. The children spent a long time researching what would be best to join our school. We settled on two males, Diago and Dirado who have been with us about a month. They have settled in wonderfully and the children are able to hand feed all three. We hope to lead train them once they have settled in and we continue to build their trust.
Our two Kune Kune pigs are expecting piglets next year and are enjoying the warm dry barn. We have said farewell to our Kune Kune Boar, Peggy. Peggy has gone to stay at a neighbouring farm for the winter but will be back next year.
Finally, the chickens have moved inside once again due to the Bird Flu pandemic sweeping across the UK for a second time. We have put them in the poly tunnel and due to the warm temperature they have begun laying eggs again!
The summer months have seen the grass grow lush and green which has been a welcome treat for all our animals. Nora the giant sow has enjoyed a mud bath and the alpacas have been munching merrily on the buttercups.
We also rescued a Peahen named Polly. Sadly, Polly was in poor health and despite our best efforts and numerous visits from our vet, Polly passed away last week in her coop. Polly will be sadly missed by the staff and children.
The sheep and alpacas have been sheared and feel much better for losing their winter coats. The wool is being spun and used for crafting in school. After the animals were sheared, they moved to their summer grazing at a neighbouring farm and will return in September.
The allotment has sprung into life after a slow start due to the cold weather in the early spring. The children have been super busy preparing the ground over the winter which has helped us to plant out lots of interesting vegetables this term including courgettes, sweetcorn, purple cabbage, and various berries. The children have also got several pumpkin plants that are already flowering; this means we will have lots of pumpkins ready for Halloween.
Summer on the Farm 2021
There has been a lot of movement on the farm since Christmas! The children have been very busy planting a variety of seeds, which have now grown into seedlings. These seedlings have been planted into the beds and we are hoping for lots of lovely fruit and vegetables to eat before the summer holidays. We have had lot of new arrivals on the farm since Spring. We were kindly given some Polish chicken eggs to hatch. The hatching process was very successful so we now have 5 new chicks to add to the farm. The children have been very involved, from watching the chicks hatch to the daily care; the chicks are now big enough to make their first venture outside. We also welcomed some Kune Kune pigs to the farm, one of which was in pig. She delivered 6, lovely, little piglets, one of which required a lot of help from a team of dedicated staff members to stay alive. I am happy to report he is doing very well and has won the hearts of all the staff members at MVFS. The rest of the piglets are very strong and healthy and we look forward to watching them grow and develop. As well as new chicks and piglets, we have also welcomed some Hebridean cade lambs onto the farm. They were from a neighbouring farm and are thriving in their new environment. The Alpacas are feeling much better after having had their wool sheared. The children had the opportunity to witness the very unique methods used to sheer Alpacas. We are hoping to carry on with the farm to fork ethos of the school in September but for now we are enjoying all the old and new animals on the farm and observing all the amazing growth changes.
This autumn has seen the farm welcome some new animals ready for Christmas. We have some Tamworth cross Gloucester old spot piglets who are already making themselves very at home in the barn. There are four boars (males) and two gilts (females). The boars will all go to slaughter as part of our ‘farm to fork initiative’ and the gilts will be kept on as breeding sows. Sows will breed from ten months old so we will hopefully have Piglets in early summer 2021. The children are enjoying caring for the piglets and watching them grow daily. They are a very cheeky bunch and have been known to nibble a few toes! Their favourite sleeping place is under the matting!
As well as an influx of pigs, we have some lovely Bronze turkey poults (chicks) that are enjoying roaming around eating weeds and vegetables. There are six turkeys who will all be slaughtered for Christmas. This is an important part of our preparation for Christmas as it gives children an insight into the rearing, caring, handling and finally slaughter of their Christmas dinners.
The alpacas and pig continue much the same as always however they have been enjoying the Autumnal sunshine. With less animals grazing the field, the grass will maintain more nutrients for winter feeding. The children have been busy raking up the leaves to make sure the grass gets the maximum amount of sunlight possible.
As well as the farm bursting into life, the gardens and allotments are looking wonderful. We have a had a lovely crop of broad beans, turnips, strawberries as well as tomatoes and courgettes. We have also tried our companion planting this year whereby vegetables are planted alongside flowers such as pansys and cornflowers. This is done to prevent weeds from suffocating the vegetables and it also looks beautiful!
As well as the lovely allotment, the courtyard and surrounding gardens are full of marigolds and sunflowers which looks stunning in the autumn sunshine.
We have also begun to plant some cabbage, beetroot and kale ready for winter which will be used in our cooking aswell as to feed the animals.
The farm takes on a whole new light in the summer. The grass is lush and green, the animals are energetic and it is time to do light repairs and repaints ready for the coming year.
The sheep have now gone to slaughter as part of our 'farm to fork' initiative which leaves us with goats (which will be heading to pastures new soon), the pig, chickens, ducks and of course our two male alpacas.
Reducing the animals allows the ground time to rest and regrow which helps with autumn and winter feeding.
The alpacas have been shorn of their thick coat to prevent them over heating as well as getting fly strike which is common in farm animals at this time of year. Alpacas have a light fine coat which is used for making blankets and soft 'close to skin' garments.
Our peahen 'Pearl' has not returned yet, however 'Percy' our peacock isn't showing any signs of distress or calling for her so that gives us a good indication that she is still close to the farm. We hope she is busy incubating eggs!
Nora our large white sow is enjoying wallowing during this warm weather. The children enjoy filling her outdoor enclosure full of water for her to roll around in!
As well as our animals, the allotment has started to flourish and will hopefully soon provide us with tasty fruits and vegetables to eat and sell. We have planted green beans, courgettes, sweetcorn and many more delicious treats ready to harvest in the Autumn.
There has been lots going on over the past few months on our lovely farm. We have had a number of baby goats born- one of which was our special hand reared goat Sooty. Sadly, mum found herself too poorly to care for Sooty so the staff at Meadow View took over raising Sooty from 2 days old. At first, he was being bottled fed every two hours but has moved onto hard feed now thankfully! Sooty enjoys spending lots of time in the classrooms with the children and enjoys playing outside!
We have also welcomed two more goat kids to the school this year. These lovely pair are now over four months old and have stopped relying on mum for milk. They are foraging on the lovely spring grass as well as goat mix. The children have named the female (black and grey) Rose and the male (black and white) Pikachu. They love exploring and jumping around and will soon be of to their new homes.
As well as the farm animals enjoying the spring weather, the plants are making the most of it too! Lots of the children have been planting tomatoes, cucumbers and chilli plants in the polytunnel where they will stay until harvest. Meanwhile, outside there are lots of developments in the Allotment.
The children and adults have been planting courgettes, green beans, potatoes, cabbages and sweetcorn as well as tending to the existing rhubarb, strawberry and blackcurrant bushes. Lets hope we have a bumper crop to harvest come autumn time!