farming therapy

A hot day for Bluebell House at Baulcombes Barn

By Emma Chaplin

michi poster with amends.jpg

It was a blistering hot July Wednesday afternoon. The ground was dry and hard. Bluebell House arrived at Baulcombes Barn for one of only a few more sessions they have with us. This is partly because Flourish funding is ending in August, and partly because the centre is moving to Horsham. In any case, endings can be hard for everyone. This group have developed important bonds with Owena and the animals.

I came along to spend some time with the group, as I sometimes do, bringing medicine from Cliffe vets for Tallulah the pony, as requested by Owena. And some cake for the humans! I also came because Flourish want to give every Bluebell House member who has come to the farm a memento. I had samples of a mug and a tea towel with the design created by Michi Mathias (see above).

Everyone who was present really liked them, thought about what they'd like and put in their orders. Joanna will ask others at Bluebell House and let me know.

We then "checked in" ie went round the group and said how we felt. Owena gave everyone an update on the farm and any animals news since the group were last here a few weeks ago.

She said:

"I took some of the pigs to the Smallholders Show. Because of the heat, we have to be here by 8am every day. The animals seem OK. The sheep stay in shade. One young ewe got mastitis, and we treated her with antibiotics. She's still not quite right, so we're keeping an eye on her. We moved the sheep on foot to a field nearer to the therapy room, so we could shear them. We were going to shear them today, but then I realised a fox had got into the community chickens and killed some of them. Foxes are hungry at the moment, plus we've got problems with the electric fence, and the earth being very dry doesn't help. I found where the fox got in. Helpfully, the pigs, who normally try to dig themselves out, can't because the ground is too hard. And the dry weather means the grass is less sugary, which is better for the ponies. They don't get laminitis. Finally, we've had an issue with broody hens. One booted another out, then didn't take care of a chick that hatched. I'm keeping a close eye on things."

Then we went out to do some chores, which included: catching up the ponies, grooming them, leading them around the field, extending the grazing area for the ponies by moving the fence, giving the pigs water, cleaning the pony fields, feeding the hens, and collecting up and soaking willow for a future willow weaving session. You can can see some of those activities in the photos above (since several members of the group prefer not to be in photos, so we've been careful who is in these). 

Finally, we gathered for a final 'check in'. We all felt better for having been at Baulcombes, seeing the animals and getting on with tasks. These were a few comments:

"I was grumpy earlier on, but being here always helps me feel better."

"I'm glad to be here. It always helps"

"I was feeling crappy but I'm glad I came today."

Last Rural Pathways session at Baulcombes Barn

By Emma Chaplin

We had our last session with the Plumpton College Rural Pathways students at Baulcombes Barn on Friday. First of all, the group fed the pigs and tended to the hens as usual. Then they came back to the pony field area to clean that (and meet Ben, the new pony) and remove some posts.

They had a break for a drink of Ringmer Community Orchard apple juice first because it was hot.

Emma and Mark Gilbert took students aside one by one to do a feedback exercise. Rhiannan from Bluebell House was kindly there to cook food for our end of term celebration over an open fire by the pond, because she's great at it. She recently did an Erasmus cookery course in France. Rhiannan fried onions and made a fantastic salad with finely sliced fennel and lots of other interesting and delicious ingredients.

Mark, who has excellent skills in this area, helped her with the fire and the meat cooking. Rhiannan has developed an interest in meat and butchery and is talking to Owena about it. Owena had provided sausages and burgers from her own animals, and bought locally made Mamoosh pittas.

First we presented the students with their certificates. Owena and Ivan have been very impressed by how hard the group have worked. So Emma created certificates which told each person what Owena and Ivan thought were their strengths, and then she read all of these out before giving them out.

Then we ate a delicious lunch by the pond. It was a beautiful setting. Niyati had brought Owena flowers and elderflower cordial. Emma had brought a carrot cake by Felicity Ann, sessional worker at Lewes Community Allotment, for afters.

Everyone thanks Owena and Ivan, and Rhiannan. What a lovely term it's been. We wish all the students the very best of luck in the future.

Michi's beautiful project poster

We asked local illustrator and cartoonist Michi Mathias to represent something about the positive impact Flourish sessions has on our clients, but in graphic form.

This is what she came up with, using quotations from members, and featuring Owena's brahma cockerel from Baulcombes Barn, Tallulah the pony, as well as some of the pigs and community hens.

We absolutely love it, it's so beautiful and says so much about what we do. It will feature in our final project evaluation for the Lottery.

michi poster.jpg

Rural Pathways at Baulcombes

By Owena Lewis

The Rural Pathways group worked again as a great team, catching the weaners in the trailer.

Some of the group mixed the feed while others prepared the trailer. The weaners were enticed into the trailer, and two members kept the gate closed. We sorted out the males and females and then drove the girls in the trailer to their new enclosure.

Straw was put in the ark to keep them warm, the gates were secured so they would not try and return to the boy pigs.

Follow up, no escapes until Sunday afternoon, one girl weaner had got out, but was very keen to return to the girl enclosure. The electric fence needs to be put up!

Lambing news from Baulcombes Barn

 

By Owena, March 2018

Photos: Emma and Owena

 

We've been busy with lambing at Baulcombes.

The first two sets of twins went outside after being inside for twenty four hours to form mother and lamb bonds.

The ewe who had thought she had had lambs, eventually had triplets! She has done very well especially because she had become very stressed looking for her lambs all the previous day. Also, she had been scanned for twins, so hadn't received extra food rations! We tube-fed extra colostrum to the new born lambs to give them a boost, it seems to have worked, today mother and three lambs out in the field.