Update

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For the first time this year, I have had the pleasure of working at the farm again, being one of several farm volunteers who help out over the summer, along with those who also cover the weekends and other holidays throughout the year.  It is evident that a lot of work has been carried out by students and staff over that last academic year and the farm is looking great.  As it is a while since either myself or Pete has had the chance to write for the blog, here is a brief update.

Crackle Summer 2019

 

Crackle is now retired and enjoying a quiet life in her paddock.  She still loves to be made a fuss of and welcomes a rub on the head.

 

 

 

 

The hens continue to lay their delicious eggs regularly.  There are two groups of chickens.  One consisting of 7 hens and one of 4 hens with a cockerel (Simon)

 

 

Penny, one of Crackle’s piglets became our breeding sow a couple of years ago and is currently expecting her third litter of piglets. Penny is very vocal and like her mum enjoys plenty of attention.

 

 

The ducks are as vocal as ever and enjoy a clean pond in the morning when they are released from their overnight accommodation.  Some of our Khaki Cambell ducks are getting on a bit now and sadly we have lost a couple recently.  They continue to amuse us though.

 

 

The ewes produced many lambs this year. Seven of the ewe lambs have been kept and will hopefully produce our lambs of the future.

 

 

The polytunnels and planted beds are full of produce including tomatoes, sweet corn, and runner beans, and the current rain has been very welcome. Hopefully, though, the sunshine and warmth will return shortly.

Tree bumblebees

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Recent I read an article about a new species of bumblebee to the UK – called the ‘tree bumblebee’. It first appeared in the UK (from continental Europe) in 2001 and has spread fast across our islands so that it is now widely distributed. In an interesting example of how knowledge opens your eyes I’ve now noticed a colony of such bees at the school farm.

They are living in one of our nest boxes (apparently one characteristic of these bees is that they like nest boxes) and are both numerous and active bumblebees (again, what they are said to be like). I think it’s quite likely that without first knowing about these bees I would have overlooked them.

 

11 Healthy Piglets for Penny

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Crackle’s daughter Penny gave birth to 11 delightful piglets on Wednesday 30th May in the middle of the night.  Peter had been keeping an eye on her throughout the night for  a few days before, getting up at all hours to check on her.   She gave birth in the middle of the night with Peter watching over her.

This is Penny’s first farrowing and all went well.  She is being a great mum and the piglets are thriving.

Photographs will follow

One of our new Ewe’s Lambs

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I never tire of doing the farm.  No matter what the weather it is always enjoyable.  Today was no exception.  I arrived about 7.30 to the sound of hungry pigs and sheep.  I fed the pigs first as they make the most noise and then the two new ewes.  Both Babs and Stamper were at the fence waiting as usual. As  I stepped over the fence to grab the container for their food, this little face appeared out from behind mum, followed by a second face.  Babs had had her lambs in the early hours of the morning and as a new mum was doing everything she needed to do.  Andrea always goes in at all times of the day and night to check on our sheep and because Babs & Stamper are first time mums has been keeping an extra eye on them but she had decided she wanted to go it alone.

The lambs are incredibly cute as always and I will post some photos tomorrow.

Breaking News – The Lambing Season at Abbrook is here!

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I cannot believe it is twelve months since I last wrote about lambing at the farm.

Tuesday 27th February 2018:  This morning one of our Ewes “Prancer” has given birth to twin lambs.

  • Further update 10:20 a third lamb has arrived!
  • Two ram lambs and a ewe lamb

 

Thursday 1st March:  On a snowy Thursday morning. Mary gave birth to twin lambs, mum and lambs doing well in a lovely warm barn.

Friday 2nd March:  A very large ram lamb born to our Ewe Strimmer.

All Ewes and lambs doing well.

 

Saturday 10th March:  Sadly one of our Ewe’s Liz gave birth to twin lambs but they were dead on arrival.  She was given a dose of antibiotics in case of an infection and regularly monitored.  On Sunday morning the vet had to be called as she didn’t seem to be getting any better.  A third lamb was removed by the vet.  Liz remains poorly but we are hopeful that she will pull through, she has always been a very good mum.  In the meantime the Vet is going to get tests done on the dead lamb as a precaution.

Student Blog 2018

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The Student Blog is back for 2017/18

Year 10 & 11 ELBS Students go to the farm first thing in the morning before they come into school and then give us an account of what they did and what they enjoyed at the farm:

Week Beginning 5 March:  Jake S:  I like doing all the jobs in the farm.  There is nothing I don’t like doing and the best thing I like to do at the farm is to collect the eggs from the chickens and the ducks.

JonnyChickens: We collect the chicken eggs from the chicken shed. We weigh the chicken eggs and put them in a box so we can take them to Teign School.  We cleaned out the chicken shed, taking out the dirty straw to re-new it.   Ducks: We collect the duck eggs from the shed and weigh the duck eggs and clean out the shed.  Pigs: We fed the pigs 1 1/2  scoops of pellets and then when they are eating we have to clean out the pig pen.  We shovel the straw and poo into a wheelbarrow and tip it in the dump.  Lambs:  We feed the sheep 1/2 scoop of ewe nuts and if the water has straw in it we have to clean it out and fill it up with water that is clean.  Geese: We just feed the Geese with chicken food.  

I don’t hate any of the jobs that I have to do, I just get on with it.  I like to feel that I am helping the farm and making the farm run nicely.

Week beginning 19 February 2018:  Emily H:  When I was at the farm I helped out with cleaning out the pigs, sheep and chickens.  I had a good time at the farm and can’t wait to go back.

Phillipa B:  At the farm I cleaned out the pigs pen indoors, also I cleaned out the chickens, I fed the sheep and did their hay and water.  I enjoyed my week at the farm and I think it was a good experience.

Week beginning 5 February 2018:  Ella:  I loved doing farm duty because it was a good experience and I loved looking after all the animals.  I would rate it 10/10.  What did I do?:

  • Fed and watered the chickens, twice
  • cleaned the chickens out, twice
  • fed the pigs/piglets
  • fed the sheep, twice
  • cleaned out the barn

I loved farm duty as it was a different experience and to connect with animals, and good for my later life experience.

Annie: On Monday we collected the eggs from the chickens, fed them, then cleaned out the first pen and the second one.  On Tuesday we did the same but cleaned out the third section. On Wednesday I fed the piglets then cleaned out the back barn stable, well we started it, so it is clean for after half term for lambing season. On Thursday I fed the piglets again then we finished off cleaning the back barn. It was a great experience, I love doing it and can’t wait to do it again.

Week beginning 29 January 2018:  Lilli S:  In the mornings I have cleaned up the ducks/chickens.  I didn’t mind doing it as it was easy to do.

Week beginning 22 January 2018:  Loui J: What I liked about helping up on the farm is the pigs and sheep. I like cleaning them out and also helped with the chickens.  It has been a good experience for me and I would love to go again.

Week beginning 15 January 2018:  Rhianna:  My week at the farm was excellent.  I experienced new and exciting things.  I got to clean out the ducks and chickens. I fed the sheep and gave them fresh water and hay.  I also fed the chickens and collected their eggs.  It was all in all an amazing week.

Week beginning 2 January 2018:  Katie:  My time on the farm was fantastic because I was looking after the pigs.  I had to feed them and get rid of all the old hay and clear out their poo!  I loved every bit of my experience it was amazing.  However, on the first day the weather was awful but you can’t help it.

Molli B: My time at the farm was very fun as it’s nicer to be out doing something with animals than being in a classroom not doing much!  There is always something to do at the farm so you are always busy helping out by either cleaning out, feeding or collecting eggs.  I have really enjoyed my experience at the farm as I love working with animals and it gives me a good start to the day.

Charlotte A: This week at the farm I started off by helping out with the sheep on the first day. I watered and fed them and checked some of the ewe’s feet and I had to help feed the pig called Crackle.  It was really wet and muddy down there!  The next day I helped out with the sheep again and I like doing it because you are beginning to understand what needs doing in the mornings.  The third day I started by cleaning out the other pig called Penny and fed her, which was good.  After that I went to do the sheep again and moved some hay and straw.  I have enjoyed the experience this week but the weather has been not so great, but whatever the weather the animals still need to be cared for.

Week beginning 8 January 2018:  Quentin: Great week at the farm, moving animals, feeding animals and odd jobs around the farm.  I reckon the best bit was moving the pigs around.  One of them was running around the place like a mad thing!  Overall it was worth doing it.  Thanks Pete & Andrea for the week, I hope to do it again.

Butterflies

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There have been some stylish butterflies on show at the farm recently – autumn should see high numbers with both home breed and migrated numbers at a peak. Three different sort, (left to right: Red Admiral, Common Copper and Speckled Wood), have been seen, with Red Admiral’s the most abundant.

What is also interesting is what butterflies we’ve not seen. No Small Tortoiseshell or Peacock (which have been common in the past nationally) and no rarities like Large Tortoiseshell or Painted Lady.