News from the College Farm

Life on the Farm has continued as usual in the past weeks. I know some of our students were worried about the livestock and especially the lambs, please rest assured that everything is good. Our DofE pupils will know about the Scout Hut that joins our land. The Scouts have kindly let me use this as a base for me and my family, and we will continue to stay there until I am happy that I can get and in and out of work from my home to tend to the animals. As for the Farm in general, please read on for an update.

The sheep are flourishing and doing really well. At the beginning of April, 16 lambs were born and they are all healthy and strong. We are having lots of twins born which is really unusual for our Farm. We now have around 45 lambs and about another 25-30 due by the end of April. We have only had to deliver one lamb, all others were born naturally and this is great news for the sheep and us! One issue is how to 'socially distance' when trying to move a very large sheep that takes two of you. The answer has been face masks and PPE which as you can imagine might be tricky - especially when the sheep kicks your mask and poos all down you at the same time..!

We were worried for some of the older lambs as they were ill, so we phoned our vet who did a consultation over the phone. We wormed all the sheep and now all are looking fit and healthy again. It is really cold at night and the days are pretty chilly so we are feeding lots of hay and nuts. Our hay delivery arrived and trying to unload it while staying two metres apart was quite a challenge but we managed it.

Some of the ewes have struggled with milk production due to the lack of grass. We have treated them with an injection to resolve the problem. We have also given them glucose to help them keep their energy up especially those with twins. The NARDIS web page lists sheep illnesses and it is a useful tool for our students when they want to do some research and match the treatments to the issues described. .

The goats are doing great and Millie the kid born last year now has a brother and sister, Dana and Cora. They are really cheeky and come often through the fence, eventually they get back when the mum calls them and then tells them off!

The rest of the animals are doing well. My eldest daughter helped me trim the donkey’s feet; we did battle for about an hour and a half and eventually won. The donkeys are grazing a fresh field and are starting to get a bit full of that ‘spring’ feeling and leaping around quite a bit at current. The pigs' pens have dried right out and we are nearly on the point of putting wallows in. The weaners are growing rapidly and the rest of the pigs are making the most of the dry, and digging for worms whenever they can. All the small animals are happy and healthy, and the ferrets are getting ready to be bred so we can have some kits for this summer. Our chickens are now outside and loving the fresh air and freedom, and are just starting to lay eggs which could be a big bonus when they get going.

Another project I am working on is to plant over 800 trees in the College grounds. My children have all volunteered to help and we hope to have them all in the ground by end of the month. We have created a vegetable garden in one of the old chicken runs and will be seeding all sorts of vegetables.

Across the wider farm the wildlife is taking advantage and there is an abundance of animals around. Yesterday there was a pair of kits on the main hill behind Sankey's House. I am seeing around ten hares most days as I drive round the Farm and there are a lot of partridge about as well. The peregrines are calling loudly from the top of the Chapel in the mornings and evenings, and creatures are starting to emerge from the winter months. It is amazing how dark the sky is without vapour trails and planes crossing it and at times it is really quiet and still with hardly any car sounds to be heard. 

Farmer Jon Hutcheon