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Pathways Progress – 29 March 2016

Meet Geoffrey

This is Geoffrey (and his mum). He is two days old, he is a Golden Guernsey and he is adorable.

As the name suggests, their coats are golden with hues ranging from pale blond to deep bronze. They are smaller than most other goats but they are very docile and very friendly – perfect for a care farm.

We had our first visit a few days ago and have booked this little fella for when he is weened (which will be in a couple of months time).

The next job is to find him some female company so watch this space for some more cute photos as we search high and low to increase the Pathways herd… being with these little creatures is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

Could this be the start of Spring?

The rain has stopped long enough for the mud to be starting to dry out and give us the chance to prepare some of the ground for planting out. It seems to have been a long and very, very wet winter but when the sun shines (even just a bit) and a bunch of highly enthusiastic people get spades and rakes in their hands, things happen – landscapes get altered – hope rises.

This area – the bit in front of the polytunnel, was beautifully prepared in the autumn. The the rain started falling… and falling… and falling. The puddles were so big and the soil contained so much clay that streams were cascading straight over the surface and into the polytunnel (and beyond). We therefore needed to put in some sort of drainage. This required Jakey and his JCB, a drainage pipe and a lot of pebbles.

The process was effective but it did mean that the beautifully prepared ground was decimated with great tyre tracks and deep indentations. That is how it stayed for a number of months until the dryer weather allowed us to go back over it… there were only a couple of comments along the lines of: “Haven’t I done this before” or “Is this deja vu”. But it will all be worth it in a few months time when this little corner of the farm is awash with colourful plants and wonderful flower beds.

Thank you to all involved.

Mission Impossible

Meet Matt. Matt is our resident builder. Without Matt I really don’t know how much progress we would have made in the last year or so. He is highly talented, unbelievably patient, a great teacher of his art and so generous with his time. What most people don’t know about Matt is that he hunts aliens in his spare time!

Some people might think that this get-up is just to spray the stable block with a woodworm treatment but we quickly realised that he is actually a ghost buster.

Seriously though, at the end of a very long day, laying floors, putting in electrics, fixing roofs and making doorways, Matt still had the strength (and the enthusiasm) to strap on this heavy load and attack the beams and the old trough. What a star… two weeks later and the smell is almost gone!

For another chance to join us for some fun and to help with vital, last minute preparations before we open up in a couple of weeks, please join us if you can this Saturday, 2 April.

Stop Press

I am thrilled to announce that we won the Tesco tokens award. We are so grateful to everyone that put their little red coins into our slot. The award means that we will soon be receiving £12,000 towards the nature trail: picnic tables, bird hides, fences and styles.

Can you imaging what a boost this is to everyone involved and what a difference it will make to the whole look and feel of the farm in general. In future updates I will publish some shots of the work we will be doing and I will let you all know when the trail will be officially open for visitors. How great will that be?

Another piece of great news – we have sold the hay. By this evening most of it has been taken from our store and early on Saturday morning the rest will go. It was very exciting when we gathered in all those bales, an historic day in the life of the farm, but is almost exciting to see it go… the circle of life (well, sort of!)

Lastly, if you are free and you would like to help us on Saturday 2 April please come along. If you haven’t been over for a few weeks (or months), don’t be shy, we would really love to see you even if you just want to take a look around. Please come.




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Pathways Progress – 14 March 2016


I can remember being so excited and writing about us clocking up 1000 volunteer hours. When we hit the 2000 hour mark we were all thrilled and amazed, what an achievement that was… I can hardly believe the total now (I guess the number at the top of this article gives the game away) – we have gone past 5000 hours (5184 to be precise). That equates to almost £40,000 at minimum wage rate! £40,000 that we have not had to get funding for.

These figures are staggering and they don’t even include all the time spent by the wonderful people who run our charity shop (and help pay for what we do on the farm) or the professional services we have received free of charge.

Well done to everyone involved, even if you have only ever spent an hour with us, we appreciate your help, skill and support. Without you we would not be where we are now. We appreciate you all so much.

The result of all this work is that we are almost ready to open our gates officially and start the work we were set up to do, namely, care for vulnerable people in a safe environment.

Of course, we have already been caring for people and established a community where everyone knows that they are welcome, they are encouraged and they are valued. Pathways has become a great place for meeting new people and establishing new friendships. Here are just some of the notes I have received in the last few weeks: “What a privilege it is to be on the farm and spend time with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met” “Thank you, my husband loves being on the farm, he is like a new man” “I have had such a great day, I can’t wait to come back next week”.

Comments like these make every one of those 5000 hours worthwhile and I want to pass on the tributes because it’s you that have earned them.

The stable conversion

The old stable was one of the last barns to be worked on, probably because it was in such a bad state of repair and needed so much work. However, in order to have a room dedicated solely to our service-users when we open in April, it will be the first building to be completely transformed. We have finished clearing the old debris, rubbed down and repaired floors, walls and ceilings. We have insulated and laid new floors on ground level and in the hay loft. We have put in a staircase and battened the walls. Next we will put in new electrics, windows, doors and a kitchen and put up the wall panels.

This great old building will then be ready as a service-user’s common room and a classroom or meeting room. The photos above show the before and the now… I can’t wait to welcome the first people into the finished space in a few weeks time. A fantastic achievement.

Cefas day

On Friday 11 March we hosted a corporate volunteering day for a small (but highly select) team from Cefas. I was rather concerned after we had set the date as the weather was awful for a couple of weeks and the farm had started to become a very muddy quagmire rather than the normally very pleasant pastural landscape we know and love… I shouldn’t have worried as the day was stunning and bathed in sunshine.

The photos show a couple of the projects we completed: a rather lovely weaved fence was erected and one gate was removed (which involved a huge effort to dig out a gate post that had been cemented in place! – see below) whilst another gate was fixed in position.

All in all, a lovely day with lovely people and something tangible to show for it. Thank you guys.


The Tesco voting is now finished but we don’t yet know the result. I’ll let you know how it went in my next update but thank you to everyone who was able to use their little red tokens on our behalf.

We have sold some hay but still have plenty more, if you know of anyone who wants a few bales (£3.50 each or £30 for 10) just put them in touch with me.

Lastly, if you are not doing anything important and you would like to help us continue the preparations for opening in April, please join us this Saturday (19th March) anytime between 10 and 4.



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