Despite having experienced some bitterly cold days and some biting winds one of the great things about autumn is the beauty of the colours. When the trees are alive with reds, oranges, yellows, browns and the remains of various greens, and then viewed in the reflected glory of low wintery sunshine and set against a cloudless pale blue sky… wow! What a sight… and we have had the pleasure of looking at such views most days over the last few weeks.
I recently attended a Care Farming conference and heard many speakers talking about the virtues of working outside, fresh air, being with animals and growing things. Care Farming really is one of the best, and most therapeutic ways to spend a day. We are so blessed to work in such amazing countryside and amongst such amazing people. What a privilege.
Pleasurewood Hills comes to Pathways
What a treat we had a couple of weeks ago when Woody Bear came for a visit and brought some left-over pumpkins for our pigs to enjoy. The ‘girls’ really enjoyed their treat and we all had fund showing such a local celebrity around the farm. The pigs were too absorbed with their food but the goats were certainly interested in this curious new visitor.
In the last blog I mentioned the tractor – well, don’t tell anyone but it has now been seen in the open air and has even got (slightly) muddy tyres!
I don’t think it has completed its first mile yet but it has moved from the comfort of its shelter and has even transported a few things around – saving many, many hours of wheelbarrow time. Over the next few weeks I doubt if we will get full use out of it but come the spring and summer I know we will be wondering how we survived so long without one.
Sensory garden and all that
The sensory garden is starting to take shape. The ground was cleared about a year ago, we then had to dig out the paths and start creating the beds. Tim Wicks has been responsible (or should I say ‘to blame’) for this emerging work of art… including the amazing Bugingham Palace (I could say ‘fit for a queen’ or at least her workers!)
In the summer we had a team of students helping us who were taking part in the National Citizenship Service (NCS) programme. We now have another such team of local youngsters who are giving up their spare time to help raise funds and do practical work for our charity. Below is a photo of some of them digging – in a gale I should add! What stars.
What do you do with the leftovers from a 120ft poplar tree that you cut down in your garden? Well, apart from build and stock your log store, you donate a few big off-cuts to form a new seating area in the sensory garden. Thanks Jem and Amy for the gift but also for the creativity to put it together in such a pleasing form (see below – note the wooden ‘menu’ in Jem’s hands).
At the end of October I was showing some friends around the farm, as I do – and I got to the sensory garden and it was so peaceful… and so beautiful… and so – therapeutic – that I just had to sit on the bench and take it all in for a while. There was no breeze, the birds were singing… I’m sure I heard an angel playing a harp! Just look at the photo below and see the shapes and colours, the contrast of the dark shadows and the highlighted stone and reflecting leaves. Whoever said ‘blue and green should never be seen’ must have been colour blind! At that moment I could not have wanted to be anywhere else on the planet.
Life on the farm
With the colder and wetter weather it is Ok for us humans to work outside and practice being ‘hardy’ but the pigs are given far better treatment… only the best for our soon to be mums.
A week ago they were moved (by hand), with much excitement, into their new indoor living quarters. They have taken to it like pigs in muck!
The alpacas are still a huge attraction and the daily walk is a real highlight for most of us. You can see by the delight on the faces of our young handlers below just what it means to them to be walking in the great outdoors with such a wonderful companion.
The bottom photo in this section shows some routine maintenance… an alpaca pedicure… not something to be done by the fainthearted, but much appreciated by the recipients.
Conservation, ecology and fungus
We are very pleased to have recently started a pilot project with Lowestoft College where a few learners have the opportunity of working alongside Ash, a new member of our team, who is highly skilled in the areas of conservation and the eco system. He is imparting wisdom and teaching skills and techniques to these enthusiastic young guys each week for 6 weeks. Below is a sample of just one incredible example of the kind of thing that can be seen as you walk around the farm and something you would be want to know more about before you try tasting it. These are ‘Parasol’ mushrooms (Macrolepiota procure – I’m just showing off now) or Scaly Caps to their friends. Aren’t they amazing?
In this last bit, as I’ve covered a lot already, I am just going to list a few final things which you may like to know:
After much blood, sweat and tears (no tears really), and after many, many months of work and no small investment, the Big Lottery Fund have turned us down for the funding we were trying to secure. I should say that this was a disappointment… well, it was for a few minutes… but it has in fact focussed our attention on the real work we are doing and the things we need to get done over the next year.
Although the funding we applied for was substantial we have been so blessed to have received other gifts and donations which actually mean an incredible amount to us all. Namely, The Lowestoft Ladies Hockey Club holding a quiz night on our behalf and raising hundreds of pounds, The Healthy Eating Group at Lowestoft Community Church raising £100 every month or two, LCC serving bacon rolls after the Sunday morning meeting and raising almost £100.
Thank you to everyone who has bought, made, organised… it means so much that so many of you care about what we are doing and we are truly humbled by your support and kindness.
If you would like to contribute in any way you can donate financially via the website or you can help in a practical way at one of our workparty days. The next one will be on Saturday 3 December and we will be around between 10am and 4pm. If you can make it we would love to see you.
Thanks once again to all of you. Just by reading this far you have shown your interest and your support. It really is a huge encouragement and we are all so grateful.
To finish I’d like to share one of our recent lunchtime experiences. It was a little cold to sit in the main barn so we spread out in one of the polytunnels… what a great atmosphere.