Ann's Farm Journal
Keep up with all of our updates from the farm including what’s new in season!
Over the last few months we have been constructing a very large chicken run - this has been a team effort, however, mostly it has been done by Graham - big thanks to Graham for all his work on the run. We needed the run as each year we have had to follow advice from DEFRA on keeping poultry away from wild birds to stop the spread of Bird Avian Flu. This involves keeping them in a secure area away from wild birds, however, as it is likely that Avian Flu is going to return year on year we wanted something permanent in place. In addition to providing protection from Avian Flu we also wanted to make sure the run was big enough to ensure our free range standard. Government regulations state that to have free range status the run must provide a minimum of 4 square metres per bird - our run provides each bird with 10 square metres!
The last task on the chicken run was to provide netting over the entire run and this was completed this week. Many thanks Graham and to his two assistants; Lucy and Zak (day release student). The girls are now able to range in a huge area without any threat from Bird Avian Flu this year and in any future years. We have also divided the run into three separate runs. This allows us to re-seed the run section by section with an organic seed mix, specifically designed for chickens to feed on. It is a good mix of clovers, herbs and grasses which are full of nutrients which our girls should enjoy. The seeds will start to be sown in March and the girls will be allowed to roam each area once the crop has fully grown. We will rotate the girls as and when, from area to area. This all means we have free range organic chickens who will provide you, our lovely customers (and ourselves too) with tasty, Fresh Local Organic eggs. They have a great home which just happens to be covered with one huge, enormous net.
Royal and Kate (Mr and Mrs Pig) are still being moved around the Orchard Field. They have nearly completely turned over the whole new growing area. I wonder if they realise that they are part of the ‘Crew’? The recent wet weather has helped to create pools of water within this new area, resulting in the decision to implement drainage pipes along the length of the new 15,000 square foot sized bed. We knew that puddles of water were going to be an issue, this must be resolved before any planting. The ground will also be harrowed and levelled. Cardboard will mark and cover the ground. Then a thick layer of fresh compost will complete the bed. This does not mean the work has ended…we then have to consider protecting what we are about to grow from those cute rabbits! A fence will be built around the whole bed. We have learnt from the past that rabbits can devour crops within days.
Any planting takes lots of preparation. Planting, on a grander level takes even more prep. and planning and time. We are needing all this completed so that we can use this new area within the Orchard Field by May, this year! We will be planting lots of our ‘overwintering’ crops for 2022/23…yes, our plans need to be a year ahead! (Don’t worry, Bob loves a plan!)
Here on the farm, we are way ahead of where we have ever been at this time of the year…the seeds have been sown (well done Lucy), the land has all been prepped within the polytunnels, the Pond Field is having a makeover and is two thirds complete, the animals are comfortable, the tools have been cleaned and readied, the shed is tidy, the watering systems connected and fixed, the white board plan, seeding and harvesting schedules all designed, our minds are active but calm AND it is Spring next week. We must be ready, let’s GoGoGo!
(What does need to be readied is tidying the barn, something we keep putting off! This will now be rescheduled for the Summer months when we will be able to have a huge clear out of the ‘stuff’ we don’t need and a grand sort out).
Finally Hexhamshire Organics has many regular customers from mainland Europe. Bob and I are truly concerned and hope and wish for a swift return to peace.