mental health

Cutting Willow at Baulcombes Barn

We had a special January session with a group from Bluebell House Recovery Centre, cutting willow from the bed at Baulcombes Barn. The willow has to be cut by March. Here's some more information about growing willow.

The Bluebell House group could stay later than a usual Wednesday morning session, so they brought lunch with them. And secateurs! Owena provided the gloves and we headed out to the willow bed - in wellies - it was very muddy.

DSC_2143.jpgFirst of all, Owena needed to strim back some brambles to make it easier for us to cut the two types of willow growing in the bed, so most of the group left her to it and carried on walking beyond the willow bed in order to go and see the horses and pigs.

We didn't see the hens, because they are are shut in at the moment, because of the risk of them contracting avian flu from wild birds.

Nicola was keen to see Buster, and so we went to the horse field, via the pigs and the yard to fetch a wheelbarrow, so some of us could clear up poo from the field.

DSC_2143 (1).JPG

The younger pony Frankie came up to the wheelbarrow to see what was happening, but then put his ears back. This is probably because he didn't know my face. Horses (and sheep) can recognise human faces.

Oscar was brave enough to approach Buster. Buster is a friendly pony, but this was Oscar's first time touching a horse. Nicola supported and encouraged him and he did really well.

Then we headed back to the willow beds. We laid a tarpaulin on the ground to put the willow once cut, because the ground was so wet. Then some of us cut the willow, others sorted it into piles of thin, medium and thick stems. Some bits were too short and wispy to use, so they will be burned.


dsc_1917After some hard work, the group headed back to the cabin for lunch around the wood burner to warm up.

We all felt it had been a good day. It was lovely to welcome new people as well as those who had come before. People tried things they hadn't done before, such as going right up to a horse.

With the willow cutting and sorting and even navigating muddy slopes and climbing under fences, we worked as a team and got a lot done. The fresh air did us good too, as did the company of the animals.

The willow will be ready for weaving in six weeks.

Emma Chaplin

Information about our animals from Baulcombes Barn

sheep baulcombes Sheep facts                                                                             

  • Female sheep are called ewes
  • Male sheep are called rams
  • Young female sheep are called tegs
  • Rams are also known as tups
  • Sheep are most fertile in October and  November
  • Sheep have a rumen stomach
  • Sheep are herd animals
  • They like to be in a group, if one sheep gets separated it will panic
  • Sheep can be rounded up by walking slowly
  • You can tell the age of sheep by their teeth
  • You assess a sheep’s condition by feeling the amount of fat around the back bone at the shoulder

pigs at baulcombes

Pig facts 

  • Pigs can live outdoors
  • Pigs are omnivores
  • Pigs can’t sweat, in summer they get hot
  • Pigs have sharp teeth
  • Pigs go in water to wallow and cool down
  • Pigs make lots of identifiable noises


Hen facts                                                                                           

  • Hens are omnivores.
  • Hens lay about 200 eggs a year
  • Hens like to scratch the ground for bugs
  • Hens like to live with other hens. and grow a thick winter coat
  • Hens have a pecking order
  • Foxes like to kill and eat chicken
  • Hens can take three weeks to hatch a chick
  • Hens moult for about 9 weeks and stop laying eggs
  • Groups of hens only need one cockerel


Pony facts 

  • Ponies can be groomed and led
  • Ponies loose their summer coat in autumn
  • Ponies like to live in a herd
  • Some ponies will try to dominate and need to be clearly handled
  • You can tell how old a pony is by its teeth
  • Ponies can easily be frightened by sudden noise
  • Ponies can sense sounds through their hooves
  • Ponies have worked with humans for hundreds of years


Poems about Baulcombes Barn, Hamsey by 'everglades'

shetland sheep baulcombes

Gathering Sheep, November 2015

 What do you see,

when I hold my hand to you,

through your world wary, slip-shot eyes?

Is it my demeanour,

or the smell of my mortality

that makes you shy away?

Nothing sits right,

my mind tortured

by its fractured wrongness.

Yet in your simplicity

I seem, perhaps, whole!

Sharing spaciousness

you follow,

I follow,

we follow.

Our mutual path

binds us.

Penned in

your trust swells me –

Your stillness offers out

that I am part of that ‘Same’, as you.

by everglades

Written following weekly visits to Owena’s farm during autumn 2015.

To Cassie and Tallulah, February 2013



filled with freshness,

alert to your surroundings.

What is it you are saying

with your wide eyes

and ready mouth?



We have so little shared,

Yet what it is you have,

I would die for.

Your needs, instant and direct,

grounded as you are

in the very ‘Now’ of life.

Your rested mind watching

as Time rolls his trials

before you.

You are loved;

Held in the infinity

of Nature’s embrace.

Loved for the essence

that shakes from your mane,

clatters from your hooves.

Loved for your wholeness,

your strength,

your purity.

Loved for your hurry

and your pause.

Tomorrows hold no torture

to your heart,

Weakened as they are

by your wide wonder

and ready acceptance.

Hope, turns her head

towards you,

and smiles.



We have so little shared

Yet what it is you have,

I would die for!

by everglades

Written during a long stay in Langley Green hospital, following leaving home. She says, "Weekly visits to Owena’s farm were a lifeline".