With our sows due to farrow at the end of January or the beginning of February, we separated them out into two neighbouring runs. Here’s the line up of intrepid pig herders preparing to gently persuade a 350kg sow to squeeze through our little pallet gate into her new home. Fortunately, Priscilla’s stomach leads her and she happily followed Trevor and a bucket of pig nuts with minimal effort from the team!
In January we finally began to see our first proper winter weather. This is just one of many spectacular frosty dawns I was treated to in January – well you do need some motivation to get out there bright and early to defrost all those troughs every morning!
We had a really busy last workday in January as we had a lot of prospective new members coming out to find out what exactly we get up to on a Saturday morning. Here you can see Jenny and Tom getting stuck in to the job of building some cloches from left over timber, water pipe and polytunnel coverings. The design for these is pretty simple, the so called ‘Geoff Hamilton cloche’. The main problem with this design can be it’s weight, which we kept manageable by creating two half-bed length cloches that can be easily carried out to the field by two people.
On The following Wednesday, we also built a couple of cloches out of polcarbonate sheeting we had been donated. These are very lightweight – essentially just two sheets joined by wire loops that you can foldout to form a ‘tent’ shape over the bed. These need staking down to keep them put in the strong winter winds but are easy to move and store as they fold flat.
The other big winter job we had to do was to finish planting out our perennial fruit beds.
We had a lot of raspberry canes to be spilt out and planted into freshly prepared beds. We also had some more current and gooseberry bushes to complement those we got planted towards the end of last year. These beds are the last that were laid out before we had the plough running and so they still needed a good bit of digging and hoeing to provide a suitable soil for planting.
It’s not all work though, whilst all this is going on, Ruth and the girls were playing ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’ in the garden. Over the winter we have also been having a bring and share lunch on the last Saturday of the month. We end up squeezing everybody into our sitting room, with the kids forced to picnic on the floor.
Its been a great chance to chat together and sample some of the dishes people are making with the farm produce. In fact, the lunches have been such a success I’m sure we’ll find a way to make them continue through the year.