August was an extremely busy time for us at Aldenham harvesting our allotment and raised gardens, over the summer we had grown a variety of fruits and vegetables including onions, carrots, courgettes, tomatoes and chillies.
If you have ever visited the farm and noticed our Co-Farmers busying themselves about the place, here is a taste of what we get up to on an average Thursday where we welcome 11 Co-Farmers.
Ed is first in at 9, and he starts with getting the kettles on before popping off to the farm shop to pick up milk for the day. One of Ed’s goals is to do this independently. He loves the responsibility and does a brilliant job. Ed then checks on the animal feed at the shop to make sure we have enough to sell to the visitors. It’s half term and we are expecting to be busy, so Ed stocks up the feed, then makes himself a cup of tea. The rest of the troops arrive just before 10, they choose their jobs, and the day begins. A group starts with the chickens, getting them ready for the egg collectors coming later that morning. The group feed them, check the water and clean them out. We are expecting newly hatched ducklings tomorrow, so Craig, Scott and Matthew get the barn ready for them, putting in fresh sawdust, food, water and a heat lamp. There are 120 arriving in the morning. We had some new surprise arrivals this week in the form of three baby rabbits. The three naughty bunnies keep escaping their pen so another job is to secure their enclosure so they can be viewed on the farm trail.
At 11.30 Co-Farmer Lee helps Lynn with public egg collecting, as this is one of Lee’s goals to help with public events on the farm. The team care for the rest of the animals on the farm trail, feeding and mucking out a wide range of animals from guinea pigs to goats.
Once the eggs have been collected it’s time to sort them. We sort them into eggs for selling and eggs for cooking, and they are graded and prepared for sale. In total 247 eggs were collected today. In the afternoon it’s time to bag more animal feed for the shop, as it’s due to be a busy weekend and they will need lots. Lee has the important job of washing the chiller van ready for the Friday box scheme deliveries. Matthew checks how the rams are getting on with the ewes, as they have been with them for nearly two weeks and have nearly completed their work!
All in all a busy day on the farm. We are involved in all aspects of the farm and are key in the day to day running.
The Co-Farmer elves at Aldenham were extremely busy in December making Christmas gifts to sell in the farm shop. The first weekend that our Christmas gifts went into the farm shop we sold out of every gift we made. So the following week we were busy in our workshop making more, and in the end we sold over 100 Christmas gifts .
Please remember to consider the weather before you come to the farm. We work outside in all weathers so it is really important that our Co-Farmers are protected and comfortable. We have a small supply of hats and extra clothing for layering, but it’s best if each Co-Farmer has his own whenever possible. Please continue to pack waterproofs too!
We are proud to announce that Rural Care Aldenham have our very own Instagram account where we will be sharing all of the exciting things that we get up to on the farm. Our account name is ruralcare123. We would love for you to have a look and hopefully like what we have been up to.
Our very own Tony Hopkins is running the London Marathon this year to raise money for Rural Care. Once we had got over the fact that Tony could actually run and didn’t just stand around drinking tea all day, we thought about how we could help him train. What Tony doesn’t know is that we have a training schedule planned for him. How better to train for a marathon than helping herding sheep. We thought he could start by herding our flock of 200 ewes. Think one man and his dog, without the dog! To finish up his training we thought we could put the pressure on and let the rams do the herding and see how fast he can run! We are here to help in any way we can.
All money raised will help Rural Care in different ways to help in general but there are some specific projects and tools we have in mind.
We are blown away by this amazing gesture and will be with Tony every step of the way through this amazing journey.
In 2009, my oldest son Lee who has special needs was lucky enough to start as a Co-Farmer at Rural Care Church Farm. I would drop him off at 10:00am on a Thursday morning , and collect him at 3.00pm. Once we were on our way home I would turn to ask him what he had been doing ,but he usually nodded off to sleep. It was clear he enjoyed his day at the farm.
In 2010-2011, on one of the rarer occasions I got to talk to him before his usual sleep on the way home I asked him what he had been doing, and all he said was collecting eggs. Concluding that even with tea-breaks and a lunch break it wouldn’t take five hours to collect eggs, I decided I wanted to learn more about what he enjoyed so much about Church Farm and especially about Rural Care.
I was sure we had a pretty good idea of the work he was doing , but I thought it would be a good way to spend some time on a working farm.
The following Thursday, I asked about spending the day, especially collecting the eggs. I remember on that particular day this task wasn’t being done until a bit later but I enjoyed the day so much that in 2011 I became a volunteer at Church Farm.
In that time I have done many different tasks and jobs as a volunteer at Church farm and all of these have been enjoyable and rewarding.
Collecting eggs, painting, moving sheep from one field to another, recording whether a ewe is pregnant and if so with how many lambs, bottle feeding baby lambs, cleaning and feeding rabbits, guinea pigs ,egg cleaning and grading, cleaning baby chick shed food and water for baby chicks, looking after and care of the farm’s Christmas trees, digging up fresh veg, the list is endless.
My main jobs at present are cleaning, feeding, and water for the baby chicks and the care of the Christmas trees, which I took over in 2011.
My sons look forward to their Rural Care work every week. They and I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. Our day is more like a brilliant day out, because there is no such thing as a boring job at Church Farm.