Archive for The Pathways Blog

Pathways Progress – 25 August 2017

Name the baby

Our Facebook competition last month to name the baby alpaca had a great response. Thanks to everyone who submitted their thoughts.

We had asked for names beginning with ‘A’ (next year it will be ‘B’ – clever hey!). Unfortunately, Aldrich Von Lichtenstein was ruled out as the character in ‘A Knight’s Tale’ is actually Ulrich von Liechtenstein. Adnams was popular but we didn’t want people to think he was bitter, or had a broad side!

‘Alan’ was another great one in honour of the famous YouTube clip and Al Pacino was very popular and almost made it but, the team’s final decision was to opt for Alois (Aloysius Alzheimer was a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist who is credited with identifying the first published case of dementia). It seemed a very apt name. The winners are being invited along to meet the little fellow and to take some of our other boys for a walk.

10 green bottles (plus a few other colours)

Some jobs we do on the farm require hard work, some require real hard work and dedication! None more so than the preparation and research needed for this particular project.

The sensory garden is coming along really well and – as it says on the tin – it stimulates each of the senses. There are so many colours, sounds, smells, textures. There are areas of light and shade. The new pond is full of life with little bugs of all sorts starting to populate the water. The stream and waterfall bring a wonderful depth to the whole experience. You can’t help but feel relaxed and stimulated at the same time… its such a great place to sit and let life go slowly past for a while.

The hard work I mentioned was in collecting and preparing each of the bottles (pictured above). Can you imaging the effort it took to empty every one of those? I doubt if we will ever get enough appreciation for the sacrifices we have to make for true art…

By the way, this wasn’t just a random act of dedicated hard work. There is a plan! The bottles are ‘planted’ over a rope light which is solar powered. When the rope lights up the glass comes alive… that’s the theory – only time (and darkness) will tell… Thanks Tim for your great creativity and sheer craziness.

Stunning in the sunlight

I just had to include this photo. A couple of weeks ago, just after a storm, I was walking around the farm before going home and the sun came out and I was caught up in this scene.

There are some fantastic places on this planet and some great things to see, but at that moment and with that lighting, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be… why not come and see it for yourself sometime.

Nature at its best and its strangest

Isn’t it just so relaxing to sit quietly and watch someone else work really hard. This bumble bee was certainly putting in a stint! I was looking at the sunflowers and taking in the beauty of nature when this guy came buzzing along and working his way around the flower head. He gave me such pleasure to study his continual activity and to know that we had helped create an environment where such life was taking place.

I was then shown one of our latest inventions – hot off the production line. We have been trying to combine different aspects of farm life into one: please feast your eyes on our prototype veggie-duck. We think there may be a market for these little creatures as they look friendly but don’t make as much mess as the quacking variety. What do you think?

Pumpkin overload

Pumpkins. Pumpkins, pumpkins pumpkins. We have been growing (very successfully) some very large, very bright, pumpkins. One of the polytunnels is half full of pumpkins!

I don’t know about you but I really don’t like the practice we seem to have adopted from our friends in the US during late October. This is becoming, more and more, a time when some nice, right living families seem to become absorbed with wearing very ugly looking masks and outfits and trying to give nightmares to young, innocent children… I am keen that we reverse the trend and make this time of year a celebration for nice and beautiful things… We could adopt another, more pleasant festivity from the americans – Thanksgiving. Laughter and happiness will make a much better alternative?

We would therefore like to run another competition. Above are a few sample ideas. We would like to see your designs and creations for the nicest, smiliest, most amusing pumpkins… no more nasty, scary looking sinister faces. We are looking for humour, happy, ‘make the world a better place’ designs.

Please send your photos to or enter via our Facebook page. If you want a pumpkin and you live near the farm, we have quite a few which you can have (for a small donation). Let’s get creative and make the start of winter a nicer, happier time of year.

and finally…

Classic cars. Why is there a photo of classic cars on this update?

The wonderful people who are the Lowestoft Classic Vehicle Club chose us as one of the beneficiaries for the money they raised at their recent rally in July. This wonderful line-up was on show at Parkhill Hotel last week when I was presented with a cheque for £750! We are so grateful for their support and for the very kind words they have said about us.

Watch this space – we are now planning a photo shoot on the farm to provide classic car photos for the club’s next calendar.

The farm is getting better and better (and better). The flowers look great, the vegetable beds are starting to look really healthy and producing some good results… next year should be amazing with the amount of ‘muck’ that has been spread recently! Everywhere is just so lovely. (Just look at these tomatoes – not all ripe yet but getting there – and so sweet and juicy)

Our next work party is on Saturday 2 September anytime between 10am and 4pm. As always, if you can help we would really appreciate it, but you are also welcome to simply have a cuppa and look around. The summer is almost over… grab this chance to pay us a visit (and use those muscles at the same time).

If you haven’t been for a while, now is the time, you won’t regret it.


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Pathways Progress – 26 July 2017

Name the baby

Last month I mentioned the arrival of our little cria (baby alpaca). Well, a few weeks have gone and the poor fella is still called ‘baby’. We have therefore invited people to come up with names (see our Facebook page). He is a male and the name must begin with the letter ‘A’. Please don’t reply to this mailing with your proposed names – just go to the Facebook page and register your thoughts and comments there. 

This lovely photo shows a very excited group of young ladies who came (with their leaders) one evening to look around the farm and meet the animals. They were amazingly well behaved  (and so were the girls) and didn’t make a sound whilst they watched the alpacas. They were rewarded by a demonstration of mutual intrigue as, one by one, the inquisitive beasts came closer for a look at these strangers wearing red and white… what a great memory.

A hill, a wood, a path

There is a space behind the pond where the trees and bushes have been allowed to grow wild for years and any ancient paths have become impassable. Over the last few months, we have done some clearing and cutting back and we had a nice thought about creating a set of steps so that there could be a circular walk around the farm.

It was one of those jobs that everyone agreed would be a great thing to do but none of us knew when we would have the time to make it happen… then along came Prince’s Trust (a charity which works with young people who are long-term unemployed, have been in trouble with the law, are in difficulty at school, or have been in care). What a skilful and enthusiastic bunch of young people who were keen to tackle such a project and make a difference locally.

I have to admit that when I mentioned the project and showed them what we had planned I expected them to run a mile. Instead they smiled, rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in… even then, as they only had two weeks to give us, I thought they’d get a bit of clearing done and maybe mark out a step or two… I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The picture above shows just some of the rubbish that had accumulated on that abandoned hill over the years but on top of that clearance work they also had to mark and dig out a whole set of stairs, put the sleepers and posts in place and fill the steps with stone.

The photos below give some impression of their work but you need to experience it to fully understand how hard they worked and how skilfully they did the job. I was amazed and it is still a thrill to walk up that new pathway. Well done guys.

Geoffrey’s pedicure

I’ve never had a pedicure but I’ve been told that they are pleasant. Geoffrey certainly didn’t mind the attention as his nails were clipped recently… although, with Pete bending over like that, I’m sure he was tempted to butt that butt.

Pumpkin overload

I can’t say I’m a fan of the taste of pumpkins but these amazing plants certainly look impressive in our polytunnel. Some of them are ready for harvesting so please get in touch if you want one (no charge, but a donation would be helpful).

Target practice

This picture shows the back-breaking dedication of our team as they weed around the base of the fruit trees in the developing orchard. However, having just written about Geoffrey (the goat) a paragraph or so earlier, I couldn’t help think about his reaction to seeing this sight! Goat heaven!

A very large caterpillar

We recently received a very kind donation… we had to get a new skin for it but this wonderful polytunnel was gifted to us by a lovely lady who no longer had a use for it and knew that we would give it a good home.

Since we first started bringing in the hay a couple of years ago we have been storing it in the large barn you can see behind this new construction. We have now moved all the hay into the very hungry caterpillar and are clearing the space in the old barn for something more constructive… we hope to start work soon on a carpentry workshop which will add enormously to the scope of the work we can do on-site… thank you Rosemary.

and finally…

The farm is looking so good right now, new growth everywhere… and I’m not just talking about the weeds (although they do seem to grow faster than anything else). Please come and see for yourself.

We will be having our next work party on Saturday 5 August anytime between 10am and 4pm. As always, if you can help we would really appreciate it, but you are also welcome to simply have a cuppa and look around (we mean it!). Please come along – the weeds really are doing well and we would love some help to attack them – as well as do a few other, more constructive, jobs.

If you haven’t been for a while, now is the time, you won’t regret it.


PS I’d like to leave you with this quote from Phil Aves (Lowestoft Rising): The potential to reduce public sector costs across Policing, Health and Social Care through this model is evident and the added social integration the farm community brings is making life changing affects to those it touches.



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Pathways Progress – 18 June 2017

Another first – meet baby Al

Al is not his real name – we hope to run a competition in the Lowestoft Journal to find a name but here is our little beauty about 2 hours old.

When we got the alpacas almost a year ago we were reliably informed that they can take anywhere between 10 and a half and 12 months to give birth and that the birth will take place between 8am and 1pm – so that the baby (cria) is running around before the pumas come out!!… The pumas tend to emerge around 4pm in their native Peru but no one has told them that there are no pumas in Suffolk…

The very proud and highly attentive mum, Papillon, gave birth at 11.30am and baby weighed in at 7.5kg (16.5lb in old money).

He is now a week old and has already put on 2.7kg, which is amazing, and he is running all over the field being closely followed by all the others. He’s a real character and an absolute joy to have as part of our growing family.

The photo below shows one of our groups picking up alpaca poo (click on the picture and see a short video of the herd). This is a highly popular job and is always greeted with a cheer when we say we are about to do it!

Talking about growing babies…

The kid goats are growing really well and are developing great characters. We spend a lot of time with all the goats and, along with us, they love every minute of the attention.

Up up and away

A friend of mine recently enjoyed a trip in (or is that on?) a microlight. After flying over his house and along the coast he thought he would give the farm a visit and he kindly took this photo… you can actually pick out some of the alpacas if you look carefully… and doesn’t the pond look big from up there? Thanks Colin, great shot.

Charity shop dedication

Through the dedicated work of around 15 volunteers our charity shop in Kirkley has been raising money for the care farm since it opened in November 2014. In that time they have contributed almost £9000 (after paying rent and rates). In the last year they have raised £3500 and to mark the occasion, Rob Foreman, one of our trustees, received a cheque from Sue Betts (shop manager) and some of the volunteers.

This is a wonderful achievement from a team who give their time either weekly, fortnightly or once a month and we are so grateful to everyone of the volunteer team as well as the customers who support our work.

Sue Betts writes: We appreciate all suitable items donated to the shop. Please remember us if you are planning that much needed spring clean declutter. At the moment we are particularly in need of good clean Bric a Brac and kitchenware items, why not pop In and grab a bargain, it will be good to see you. 

Our usual opening times are Tuesday – Thursday 9.30am – 2.30pm and Friday 9.30am – 12.30pm. These times sometimes vary due to volunteers availability. Thank you all for your continuing support.

My precious…

The sensory garden goes from strength to strength and is looking more and more amazing every month. Not only are the flowers, shrubs, herbs and willow growing beautifully but we now have an alpine garden and the beginnings of a fantastic pond(s) plus stream and waterfall… not only that… hidden in the rocks and stones is The Ring itself!

Yes, ‘My Precious’ is there, waiting to be discovered. Gollum hasn’t been seen yet but give it time… (for those readers who don’t know ‘The Lord of the Rings’ please read on.

Where there’s muck there’s brass (well, vegetables)

Compost – 26 tonnes of it, was kindly donated by an anonymous donor. I had a call to say ‘Would you like some really good compost? to which I answered: ‘That would be nice.’ Little did I realise that the 55ft artic lorry would be full of it.

Wow, what a gift. An amazingly helpful and very practical donation which will benefit our soil no end.

Every silver lining has a cloud though and the cloud on this occasion was the somewhat lingering smell which accompanied the rather large pile! (Sorry neighbours – I did promise we would move it quickly and, only one week later, it has been distributed to various parts of the farm where it is already doing its job.)

Thanks to our donor but thanks also to everyone who has helped move it and put up with the smell. You are all heros.

Wild flowers at their best

What a sight. As you walk around the farm there is so much to take in, beautiful animals, good looking buildings, people working on all sorts of projects, swans, ducks, coots, moorhens, flower beds, vegetable plots, hanging baskets and these… incredible wild flowers… breathtaking.

What is even more amazing is that these beautiful wild flowers are not all planted by us. The council sowed the daisies when they vacated our site after they had built the new road, we sowed the cornflowers and others have just appeared as if to say “we want to be part of this display”.

… and enjoying the peace and tranquility… here are a great group of farm workers enjoying home made soup on the patio outside our new patio doors (aren’t we posh?). Great days, great memories and new friendships being forged each day. What a privilege to be part of this adventure.

and finally…

The first cut of hay this year has been brought in (thanks for your help Jakey), most of the compost has now been distributed to various beds around the farm, lots of jobs have been done recently and the place is looking wonderful. Please come and see for yourself… we will be having our next work party on Saturday 1 July. We have saved some jobs for you to do so if you can get along we would love to see you anytime between 10am and 4pm. As always, if you can help we would really appreciate it, but you are also welcome to simply have a cuppa and look around. Please come along – the cygnets are growing fast so don’t miss the chance to see them while they are still cute and fluffy.




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Pathways Progress – 26 May 2017

Spring has sprung – at last

It’s been a long time coming. After the early Easter sunshine when we were lulled into a false sense of ‘winter is over’ we have been through a month or more of thinking ‘this could be the week’, ‘it is warmer – isn’t it?’… At last, it appears that the waiting is over and the sun is not only shining but it has some warmth.

With a dry week forecast we have taken the opportunity to cut the grass for the first time this year and we hope to bale the hay at the end of the week.

Our fields are looking wonderful at the moment, the beautiful lines as the mower cuts through the grass – the lines of vegetable plots anticipating new vegetable growth over the coming months – the polytunnels bursting with blooms all waiting to be planted out. Such an exciting season.

Amos and Asher

Our wonderful baby boys are growing rapidly. They are both now being fed by the bottle as we are weening them away from their mums.

As you can see from this photo, they are as friendly and mischievous as ever and they love attention and their daily brush. They truly are one of the farm’s highlights… and, along with the bird hide, one of the greatest time-wasters you could ever want.

7 swans a swimming

Mummy swan has been patiently sitting on her nest for about seven or eight weeks and we had just about given up hope. We were rather sad thinking that she may have been sitting there in vain hope. But – we were wrong! What joy when we saw the whole family: mum and dad and seven little balls of fluff.

It really is better than tuning in to ‘Springwatch’. In half an hour last week I saw these beauties for the first time, mr Kingfisher fly across the pond with a small fish which he passed to mrs Kingfisher who bashed the catch about a bit before swallowing it and then flying into the nest, presumably to regurgitate the meal for the youngsters (who we hope to see soon). Whilst all this was going on a moorhen was working away on its own nest whilst two baby moorhens swam around on the water nearby… add to this the nine ducklings that slowly made their way across the pond with mum over the last few days… wow! Is there really anywhere else that can beat it? Not in my eyes.

Thank you Bill

Bill Witham has been coming along and helping us for over two years. What he can’t fix doesn’t deserve to be fixed. He is a gentle, caring, humorous, generous and highly talented man.

We knew he could mend broken things but we didn’t know he was also a poet! He came along to our celebration a few weeks ago and kindly presented us with this beautiful poem – a great reminder of what has been going on over the last two and a half years. What a great gift, we are all very grateful.


Puddled clay is clay that has had all the air pockets squeezed out of it to make a solid, immovable, watertight layer. It is a labour intensive process as YOU have to do the puddling (see above) but it is great fun as we found out this week… and no one fell in!

Using puddled clay to make a waterproof lining for a pond is rarely mentioned these days – it’s all butyl, fibreglass and concrete. But before these modern developments, clay was the only suitable material available, and if you’re doubtful of it’s success, you’ve only to look around at our canal system which were originally lined with puddled clay.

This pond was created a few months ago and the clay has been drying slowly. When the heavy rain appeared this week Pete worked out that we had the chance to get stuck in. Stuck being a carefully chosen word! I hope to show you photos of the completed pond in future updates… of course, if it leaks I’ll probably just forget.

and finally…

Work parties continue to be on the first Saturday of the month in order to make it easy to remember. The next one is on Saturday 3 June. If you can get along we would love to see you anytime between 10am and 4pm. Whether you think you are skilled or not there is a lot of things to do and so much to see. If you can help we would really appreciate it, but you are also welcome to simply have a cuppa and look around. Please come along – you might even see the kingfisher!




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Pathways Progress – 1 May 2017

1st Birthday Celebrations

A lot of very exciting things have happened at the farm over the last two years or so. We have transformed a derelict site into a beautiful and useable resource: We have planted an orchard, built a sensory garden, built a car park, erected two polytunnels, built raised beds, paths and animal pens, populated the farm with pigs, chickens, alpacas and goats… and we have seen our first new births (the goats, Amos and Asher). However, a year ago, on 11 April 2016 we opened our doors for the first time to welcome the people we had been working hard to help. This is what all the preparation had been for.

That first week we had two people join us, wow – it was exciting and we knew immediately that we had started something good and very worthwhile.

Referrals started to grow and after a month we were helping six people, then eight… quickly reaching double figures… we now work with over 30 people each week and the library of stories we are building is inspiring and heart warming. I hope to record some of the stories soon so that more people can hear the good news of what is being achieved on our little piece of ‘heaven on earth’.

Last Friday (28 April) we hosted a BBQ and tours of the farm for many of the people we have helped over the year as well as many of those who have trusted us enough to make referrals. The event was to mark our first anniversary and celebrate the end of a remarkable year. We were also honoured to have many representatives from Suffolk County Council, Waveney District Council, Geoffrey Probert (the High Sheriff – who presented us with an award to recognise our contribution to the local community) and Peter Aldous MP (who said some very kind words about our past, present and future). We are very grateful to everyone who attended and who made the day such a success. We are also very grateful to Tesco who, not only donated a lot of the supplies for the BBQ, but also provided a number of staff to help serve refreshments. Thank you all so much. We would also like to thank Heil’s bakery for the amazing (and huge) cake which fed over 100.

Amos and Asher

In the last update I promised to show some footage of our beautiful, friendly, lovable, full of life baby goats. If you click on the photo above you should get to a link of them being rather excited by their new freedom in the outside pen.

These two adorable animals have brought us so much pleasure and added an amazing amount to the calm and relaxing feel of the farm. They love attention and they have won everyone’s hearts.

The bird hide

Kingfisher, heron, gulls, moorhen, ducks (with 9 ducklings), swans, coot, eagles… did I say gulls? Most of these have been seen from our brand new hide… I made up the bit about the eagle!

What a wonderful way to spend an hour (or just a few minutes) – sitting in the quiet tranquility of this little corner of the farm, tucked away amongst the bushes and looking out over the pond.

It is important that you, the reader, understand just how hard a day’s work on the farm really is. We don’t just sit around drinking tea and eating biscuits. We have to keep an eye on baby goats and ensure their safety at all times and now, on top of all that, we have to check the wildlife on the pond by sitting very quietly in a shed and staring out of a little window. Its not easy.

On a serious note: if any of you are interested in becoming a volunteer (that means working with our farm workers once a week), please let me know and we can start the process by letting you have an application form. We have the most amazing team of volunteers all of whom bring something of themselves to our community. However, we are always keen to hear from others who feel they would like to join us in this very important and highly fulfilling roll.

Spring is bustin’ out all over

The colours and fragrance at this time of year are so good and bring so much hope. After the dark, cold winter months, almost without warning, new shoots appear and the entire place leaps into bloom. I don’t have to list the benefits of new growth – they are well documented and obvious to all of us yet the joy that is produced each year as we see each new flower open and join the orchestra of beauty all around is a wonderful thing to experience at such close quarters.

Rob, Jane and their team in the polytunnels and garden beds and Tim on the sensory garden have done brilliant jobs and we can’t wait to see the changing scenery over the next few months.

and finally…

As some of you you probably know, we are having work parties on the first Saturday of the month in order to make it easy to remember. The next one is on Saturday 6 May. If you can get along we would love to see you anytime between 10am and 4pm. There is a lot to do and so much to see. If you can help we would really appreciate it, but you are also welcome to simply have a cuppa and look around. Come along… you know it makes sense… you might even see the kingfisher!




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Pathways Progress – 22 March 2017

Meet Geoffrey junior

Many of you would have heard about our wonderful Billy Goat, Geoffrey, others of you would have had the pleasure of meeting him (and even been butted by him). On Saturday 11 March at 11am Caramel gave birth to Geoffrey junior, otherwise known as Amos.

Amos is a beautiful little kid and is exactly like his dad in colour and with his good looks… he was also born on Geoffrey’s 1st birthday. What a great day and how wonderful to have witnessed the very first Pathways birth.

Whilst Caramel was in labour Dandelion was looking on with interest as she was about to give birth to Geoffrey junior number 2, born on Tuesday 14 March at 3.30pm. This was not such a straight forward birth but midwives, Pete and Debbie, did an amazing job and delivered ‘Asher’ safely and healthily.

As I write this update they are both only just over a week old and already they are playing and leaping around in their pen… complete time-wasters. It is disastrous to ‘just pop in to say hello’ as they are captivating and an hour later you wonder where the time has gone. Please click on the image above to see a short video taken minutes after the birth but I will get some more video clips done for the next update as they are absolutely adorable.

Pigs in muck

First day of Spring and the pigs have been released back into their pen outside after over wintering under cover. They were a little reluctant to get into the trailer for the short ride but they wasted no time in exploring the area and seeking out things to munch. Great to see such happy animals… won’t be long now until a couple of them are pregnant!

The start of the bird hide

With the changing season we have started to see many more birds around the pond and hear much more bird-song as we walk around the farm. The picture above shows the construction of the base for our first hide which will soon be positioned on the south side of the pond awaiting the actual hide to be delivered and erected in a few weeks’ time… if it wasn’t for the lure of playing with baby goats I might have spent all my time down there watching the kingfisher, the ducks, swans… Wow – this is going to be such an exciting few months!

Stimulating the senses

The flowers are popping up everywhere. Over the winter and early Spring we (mostly Tim) have planted hundreds of flowers, shrubs, hedges, willow… and it is all now coming alive in a crescendo of colour and texture and new life… and hope. Of course, its not only the plants that grow, even on such hallowed soil as ours we get the odd weed! Hence one of our regular activities is being expertly demonstrated above.

As you enter the farm and come through the gates you can’t help but be struck by the amazing willow cave and the overall beauty of this garden which will stimulate every sense going and be a delight to so many people.

and finally…

Planting, sowing, weeding, building, tending to wonderful animals, mixing with fantastic people, seeing lives changed… what a joy it is to be part of the Pathways community. We are so privileged to be involved and so grateful to all of you for helping to make it possible.

We are now having work parties on the first Saturday of the month in order to make it easy to remember. The next one is therefore on Saturday 1 April I’d like to say ‘You’d be a fool to miss it’ but that would be corny. We will be around from 10am. There is a lot to do and so much to see, please come, to help if you can, will be really appreciated, but you are also welcome to simply have a cuppa and look around.




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Pathways Progress – 2 March 2017

Dignity – That’s a powerful word

“It gives me dignity.” Those were the words of one of the young men we have with us on the farm when asked why he liked coming along. When I heard that I was blown away. What an amazing testimony to the dedicated and loving work done by every one of our volunteers and staff.

In a world where people who may be a little different do not receive dignity every day it was a fantastic thing to hear that we are breaking that mould.

A few weeks ago we had the privilege of welcoming Jon Wright (BBC Radio Suffolk) along to the farm for a look around. He kindly did some interviews and, if you missed the live broadcast, you can click on the image above and see and hear some of the results. Thanks Jon, we really enjoyed your visit… come again.

Doris meets Geoffrey

The wind started to get up last week, especially on Thursday when we had a visit from Doris!

We lost a few roof tiles (those old clays are incredible and I can’t believe they stay up during most storms let alone a mini hurricane), and somehow, the toolshed moved away from the wall but the biggest shock came when Geoffrey (our lovely billy goat) was startled by his wooden shelter being blown over… his wooden shelter that took six people to carry it into position in the first place.

Fortunately, he was not that close and only his pride was hurt as he left about in panic for a few minutes… he quickly worked though that this arrangement made it much easier to get to the hay.

New heat source, new kitchen

Not only do we have some of the best volunteer help available anywhere but there are also some very generous individuals and companies around who donate things to the farm eg two log burners and a number of kitchen units!

As you can imagine, the farm can be a little exposed to the elements at times and heating the barns has not been easy. However, thanks Dennis & Jane and Rob & Karen for the wonderful gifts of the stoves and thanks Bernie and Howdens for the kitchen units. Wow, what a difference… not only are they all functional but they also look great and really add to the ambience.

One flue over the cuckoo nest

So, we have a couple of new flues… It has been wonderful to have two log burners in situ. They almost make the rooms feel warmer just by being there. However, they couldn’t actually give us any heat until they were ‘plugged in’. We needed to have flues fitted, double lined flues as well as we have no chimneys.

Robert and his team at District Flues gave us a ‘charitable rate’ for doing the work and then went a step further by renovating both stoves to look like new. They did a great job, they were always polite and cleared up well at the end… what more could we ask. Thanks guys.

Of course, this amount of work was going to leave a bit of a hole in our budget but then along came the Buffs. Ted Espindola was the Provincial Grand Primo last year and chose Pathways as his charity. They kindly raised money for us throughout the year and, just when we needed to pay for the flues, they came to present us with a rather large cheque (see below). A couple of days later the Lowestoft Ladies Hockey Club also wanted to give us the money they had raised… the combined total of these two donations matched – £ for £ – the outlay for the flues! What a coincidence.

Market garden

A lot of muck spreading has been done over the winter months and we have been developing some new beds to grow veg this year… One of the comments you now hear regularly on site is: “We are starting to look like a farm.”

Last year’s produce was good but we are expecting great things this season… what with expectant goats and lots of fruit and veg to look forward to – its going to be a great year.

The real work

Of course, the real work that we do is people centred. The growing and the animals are there for the benefit of our service users. The photo above thrills me and fills me with such joy. This is what its all about… two lovely men, relaxing and having a chat over a cuppa… they didn’t know each other until a few weeks ago but now, as with most people who come along, they have made new friends and really look forward to their day with us. What a privilege to be able to work with such wonderful, wonderful people.

and finally…

You’ve lived through Doris now meet Flora. Flora is a British Lop Eared and she is adorable. Such a friendly and approachable pig. She will make a lovely addition to our small but growing farm family.

We are having work parties on the first Saturday of the month this year. Hence, the next one is on Saturday 4 March and we will be around from 10am. Please come, if you can make it we would love to see you.



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Pathways Progress – 26 January 2017

Its not as cold as the Arctic!

Well done Stuart and Jem. Christmas morning was so beautiful, the sun was bright, the sky was blue, thousands (well many hundreds) of people came out to see the spectacle and these two intrepid trailblazers (along with Ben, Simon and Bruce) braved the North Sea.

If you click on the photo you can see it all unfold and hear the immortal quote: “I can officially say its not as cold as the Arctic!”.

The final count has not yet been disclosed but reliable sources suggest that the total raised on the day – to be shared amongst 10 charities – will be around £10,000. How fantastic… Happy Christmas one and all.

Where to work when its cold

Here is today’s weather: It has turned very cold. Maybe not as cold as the North Sea on Christmas morning but the farm can be a little chilly (see piece below about the polytunnel).

One of the great things about a muck heap is that it naturally gives off heat and one of the best possible jobs when a cold easterly is blowing is to transport barrow fulls of the manure to the vegetable beds… in a few months, when you read about the wonderful produce we have to sell, please think back to this piece and remember the toil of the hardy winter workers.

Like a pig in…

Of course, shovelling muck and digging it in whilst in the polytunnel is an even warmer job. Can you imagine how much the tired soil appreciates this kind of supplement. Here you can see volunteers and co-workers all ‘mucking in’ together. It may be winter outside but in my heart its spring…

Work starts on a reception area

This is one of the small barns in the courtyard. We have laid a new concrete floor ready to insulate and the stud wall is now up. The roof has been patched to stop rain coming in but we need to completely line it and add more insulation. Things are progressing nicely.

Unfortunately, before we could do a great deal more in this room, avian flu hit and we have had to use the space to house the chickens as we can’t keep them outside again until March… at least they have a classy room to enjoy – I hope they appreciate it.

Conservation course

We have recently completed a six week conservation course with students from Lowestoft College and run by Ash (pictured above left). Ash has done a great job with the students as they looked at some aspects of woodland management, building a bug hotel, hedgehog houses and bee bedsits (right). The course has been very well received and we will be rolling out more courses throughout the year which will include bird identification, food chains, providing both nesting and feeding areas for a range of pollinating insects, bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies etc, and allowing the growth of wild flowers along margins or in other areas… lots of very exciting stuff – I intend to sign up.

Pathways and Parliament

… well, a representative of Parliament… We had the privilege of hosting a visit from Peter Aldous MP a short while ago. Peter has been a very loyal supporter of the Care Farm and a real encouragement as he regularly puts us in touch with local agencies or organisations who share our ethos or objectives. Here I think he was responding to my question about Brexit and how it will effect the mental health of those who voted to remain.

Lounging about

When we started out on this journey in October 2014 the old stable block and hay loft looked such a mess I thought we’d never even start on them let alone make a useable space in there. How wrong could I be. We have toiled for about a year, students from Great Yarmouth College made a great job repairing the outer walls and also helped clear years of rotting wood and old rubble.

We laid a new floor, insulated the walls, treated the woodworm, put in a new staircase and a new floor above. Added windows and a roof light, new electrics and finally, just after the last co-worker left for the Christmas break, we (Dennis and Jane mostly) laid the carpet tiles.

The third of the photos above shows what the room was meant for… lunch and socialising. Now to get the log burner and flue fitted.

The photo (right) shows a new, hand-made balustrade in the old hay loft. Soon to be the farm office and meeting room… aren’t we posh?

and finally…

This is what we are really all about. This is a quote from a relation of one of the fantastic people we have the privilege to work with:
“The change in C has been remarkable. From a withdrawn, remote individual, he has transformed into a smiling, bright-eyed interactive part of the family willing to instigate conversation which, before coming to pathways this didn’t happen. His confidence has grown massively and he has come out of his shell.
Pathways has been a massive part in this and I cannot thank the team enough.”

Just to finish, we are having the first work party of 2017 on Saturday 4 February and we will be around from 10am. If you can make it we would love to see you.



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Pathways Progress – 12 December 2016

Sundance at sunset

A few days ago, some of the guys were just finishing their stroll around the farm with the Alpacas when I noticed this scene. The Alpaca in question is called Sundance and I thought it was rather fitting to photograph him silhouetted by the late afternoon setting sun… and some people wonder what the therapeutic value of a care farm is! I rest my case.

Talking of Alpacas

Part of the daily Alpaca trekking experience is the chance to just get up close and get to know them a little. Alpacas are not naturally as ‘touchy feely’ as dogs or goats but, through regular human contact and loving care, we are training ours to relax when they are with us and even enjoy a bit of human attention. This closeness is not something that many people ever get the chance to do and yet, this simple act makes the world seem like a nicer and friendlier place. Perhaps it should be prescribed by GPs as an antidote to stress… now there’s a thought – Farming on prescription!

Geoffrey growing up

If you have been reading these updates for the last few months you will know a bit about our billy goat ‘Geoffrey’. I have always considered it a great privilege that one of our most popular animals was named after me, however, billy goats do start to smell as they mature (they have a technique for attracting females which I won’t go into here). It can be a little disconcerting to walk past someone as they say that Geoffrey is pretty smelly today! We now have a policy that the goat is Geoffrey and I am Geoff – just to avoid any confusion!

Despite the fragrance, Geoffrey is highly popular with just about everyone on the farm and he just loves attention (something we do have in common). He really loves being groomed and will stand and wait very patiently whilst being pampered – if you click on the picture (right) you will see a short video of one of his tricks.

Christmas swim

Pathways is proud to announce that we are one of the official charities for this year’s Christmas Day Swim. The money raised on the morning will be divided up amongst the chosen groups so please do get along to the beach on Christmas morning to enjoy the spectacle and to donate. If anyone is reading this and is brave (stupid) enough to get wet on our behalf please let me know and I will arrange for the registration. We can then gain direct sponsorship as well as getting a slice of the overall pie. Of course, if you would like to sponsor the Care Farm anyway please go to our donation section on the website (

The Broody Bunch

A few months ago we featured a short video of our little chicks who were then just a few days old. If you click on the photo (below, right) you can see those same chicks 12 weeks on… haven’t you grown!

and finally…

I couldn’t resist another shot of the main field in the autumn sunshine… did someone say something about therapeutic environments?

I recently received the following email which seems to suggest we are on to something:
“As a nurse practitioner working in primary care it is apparent that we are desperate for mental health services that allow our patients to access services in a timely way that will help them in crisis as well as in a more long term way – developing self awareness, promoting self esteem, coping strategies and developing self worth. Pathways Care Farm is a place that nurtures clients through working as part of team with animal and plants which, research suggests, has positive benefits for those involved. I have been able to witness this positive approach and would very much like to be able to refer more patients to benefit from this service.”

Just to finish, we are having a final work party this year on Saturday 17 December and we will be around from 10am. If you can make it we would love to see you.



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Pathways Progress – 24 November 2016

Autumn sunshine

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.

Muddy tyres

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.

Recycled tree

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).

Another view

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?

and finally…

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.


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