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!