We are located 4 miles north of Cirencester, between the villages of North Cerney, and Woodmancote. From A435 you take the turning towards Bagendon, go up past the Church to the T junction. Turn right towards Woodmancote and Scrubditch Farm is approximately 100 yards on the right. The Care Farm is situated down the drive, up the track on the left.
From A417, turn off at Perrotts Brook/Daglingworth, and proceed towards Perrotts Brook. Just before the A435, turn left towards Woodmancote. Go for approximately 1 1/2 miles and Scrubditch Farm is on the right, just past the Bagendon/North Cerney Cross Roads.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Final week of the Pilot

Sadly we had to cancel David and William on Monday again, due to a) the freezing weather conditions and b) the burst pipes we had in the portacabins over the previous weekend!  Unfortunately we had forgotten to lag the pipe work, not thinking that we'd have such a cold spell before Christmas....
On Wednesday, great excitement, we arranged to meet our three students and their carers at Winstone, as our local Hunt were meeting there 'on foot'! (It was much too treacherous for horses!) We introduced them all to our masters, and Simon the huntsman, and they sampled Mrs Barnes' legendry fruit cake, and delicious hot sausages prepared by Sue G!  We set off across very snowy fields at Simon's almost trotting pace - quite difficult to keep up cross country - but we were never far behind.  We had a spectacular view across from the Caudle Green road to part of Miserden Wood across the valley - it was a great sight to see the hounds working and the odd dash of colour from Simon, and to hear him on the horn... I think we walked about 8 miles at least - we ended up the far side of Miserden Park, leaving hounds running towards 'Whiteways' (Gloucester way!!)  and then walked all the way back to Winstone.  Luckily, Sue was at home, and gave us all large cups of tea & coffee to recover - thank you Sue! I'm sure we all slept well that night!
Thursday was our last day - so we invited all the students to lunch in the house.  Tom, Steve & Simon arrived on time at 10am, and spent the morning working furiously to get the poly tunnel cleaned out and cleared up, and they made a compost frame with Bob.  Danny, our other regular Thursday student, arrived early - and could hardly contain his excitement - he kept saying he had a surprise for us - and i just knew he was about to tell us all immediately - we managed to keep his busy cleaning out the ducks for a short time - his attention span was shot to bits with the excitement of it all...!  David arrived at 11am, and i kept him busy in the house, peeling apples for the crumble, as it was much too icy up on site for him - He was a great help, along with Steve, Danny's carer, they helped preparing veg, and making paper chains to decorate the kitchen!  I think we ended up with 17 of us, squashed in round the table - all my helpers were invited, and the 7 students with their carers.  It was a great lunch, and i was particularly touched when Simon stood up and gave a speech at the end of the meal (he said he was shaking with nerves!) to say how much they had all enjoyed taking part in the pilot, and were really looking forward to coming back in January. Ps mustn't forget to mention Danny's surprise - yes, he dressed up as Santa!! - complete with his green wellies on the bottom - i had to play 'Jingle Bells' at his entrance - very special!

For my part, it has been an exhausting, but exhilerating experience, and the highs definately outweigh the lows - there is no better feeling, than when you hear how much these students have got out working alongside us for the last few weeks.  Roll on 2011, and let's hope we get the funding to move the project onwards and upwards!

Happy Christmas to everyone, and see you in the New Year!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Week 6

Last week positively flew by - sadly we had to cancel David & William coming out on Monday due to the FREEZING weather.  Wednesday, our three regulars arrived with their carers - complaining about the cold!  We spent the morning de-icing the duck pond, cleaning out the ducks, de-icing the troughs around the farm for the sheep, and generally checking on stuff freezing in the polytunnel.   After lunch in the house, i took the students to Coln House School in Fairford for the afternoon.  Helena made us very welcome and we had a lovely tour of their gardens, greenhouses and polytunnels - complete with hens nesting under the mushroom compost!  Simon & Tom loved handling 'Angel' one of their huge hens - apparently she laid her first egg the next day!  I hope it has inspired the boys to plan for next year, once the weather improves.  Thursday, we had Danny here as well, and once we had explained that it was too cold up on site for the turkeys, and he had checked that 'his' two turkeys were still in the shed - he helped me muck out my horse's stable - attention span very short - whilst the others repeated their de-icing tour.  The highlight of the entire project so far, was Lucy bringing her sausage making equipment down to my house at break time.  We all piled in round the table, and first off made some rolls and left them to prove, and then mixed up bowls of minced pork with, leeks, apples & mixed herbs.  Then the best bit.... everyone took a turn at putting the sausage meet inside the skins - it was hilarious, and Luke videod the evidence, and then played it back on the television for us all to have a good laugh.  We cooked up a batch for lunch, and then they took  a bag of sausages home with them. (Along with a photograph of 'Richmond' the runty pig that Bev named when she was here!) 
On Friday morning, Helena from Coln House, brought two of her young students (and the Deputy Head) out to the farm to do work experience.  She assured me that they rather liked 'mucking out' - having been practising at school, so we set them the task of mucking out mum's hen house - hard work, and then Manny my horse's stable - it was bitterly cold, so i tempted them inside for their lunch, and cooked up some more of Lucy's sausages - general consensus - a bit too much pepper - must pass the comments back to her!  It has been great to form a link with Coln House School, and we hope to continue providing work experience for some of their students when they leave school at 16.
The last week of the project approaches, and it will be really sad to say goodbye to the students who have been here over the last 7 weeks - albeit briefly - i hope they will return in January, when we start again.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Wed / Thurs 24/25th Nov

I've got a bit left behind lately..... I've been busy organising a Christmas Fair - more of that later!
Wed, we had two of our three students, with Bev (Bodgit) Sue, and Lucy later on.  In the morning, Simon & Barry, made us a path up to the duck pen, as it's been SO muddy on site!  Bev & Sue carpeted the hen house, with an old bit of coir matting recovered from a shed on the farm - very plush for the hens - although i think it's actually too cold to put them up there at the moment - theyr'e used to a stable in the yard at night.... Lucy & Steve made new gate for the duck pen out of an old pallet, as we had to abandon Mike's effort from the previous week (sorry Mike!) - it wouldn't shut (We reckon he'd actually hung it upside down!!) Pm Simon & Barry started putting legs on an old, very odd shaped table that we acquired from a theatre group ... it was left in the shed for years, so we've claimed it!  Sadly for Steve, the mice had been at some of his pea shoots, so we've had to cover them over again in the poly tunnel.
Thursday, the guys spent most of the day finishing the table - it now sits very proudly in the polytunnel waiting to be used - great job!  Danny spent most of the day asking where Lucy was, so he could move HIS turkeys up to the site - not sure Lucy got any lunch that day, as Danny was lying in wait for her!  He's now over the moon, as he thinks his turkeys are going to start laying eggs int heir house on site.... it's way too cold up there at the moment, so we've had to put them back in the yard until he comes again on Thursday!

Sunday, we had our annual Christmas Fair in aid of the Cotswold Hunt - a great day, and it was lovely to see most of our students there at some point or other - and what was even better, was being able to sell the baskets of bulbs that David had helped make, and the beautiful mince pies, that Steve, Simon and Tom, had all made specially to sell.  They were delicious, and we sold out completely.  We've got a few baskets of bulbs, left that are going down the the Village Christmas Fair on Saturday.  We raised over £200 for the Project, so well done to all my helpers on the day, Mum, Sue, Tracey, Shannon and Lucy, who had made delicious soups too!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Thursday/Friday 18/19th Nov

Thursday, We had the same crowd as usual, with Danny of course - 'Turkeys' was the only thing on Danny's mind - when, where, and is your sister back yet??!  The students spent the morning taking cuttings with Bob, from Mum & Dad's garden - Wineberries, Gooseberries, Blackcurrants & Redcurrants, and then putting them into a trench at the back of the polytunnel for the winter - exhausting work, as the site really doesn't have anything other than stones - so lots of to-ing & fro-ing with wheelbarrows of muck!  PM, they finished the fencing for the ...... Turkeys - and Ducks - in terrible conditions - i've never seen so much mud on wellies in one day!
Friday, we had a visit from Coln House School again, this time 4 students.  They spent the first hour digging the base to put the duck pond in - back breaking, but very satisfying, then after having their sandwiches in the sun outside the portacabin, they had a tour of the animals again - a real treat to see the pigs, turkeys, goats and rabbits, before a hose down in the stable yard, and back to school.  Charming, polite boys, and a great help, thankyou!

I must say a big thank you to Tina, who has tirelessly been making cakes every week for me to feed my happy helpers at break times!  Tina's Chocolate Brownies have been voted favourite, with Lorna's Lemon Drizzle Cakes, a very close second!  With no electricity on site yet, it's a real boost to have such delicious cakes to keep the troops spirits up - Thank you Tina and Lorna...

In case anyone would like to know what's on our WISH LIST I've posted it opposite!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Sunday, Monday

Sunday - our first fund raiser - the dry stone walling competition!  The weather was ok - ish pretty foggy to start with, but it cleared, and our 'Star' waller was James Sharp from Rapsgate, who with his dad, spent the whole day here walling!  They were presented with 'Tracey's Trophy' - a beautiful hand crafted, gold sprayed stone (from the wall of course) set in gold covered concrete! - Oh, and a voucher for the 'Five Mile House' - which went down really well with James.  Thanks go to Mark, Paul & Tim who all helped walling, and their friends & families who turned up to cheer them on.  Most thanks go to John Teakle for organising the whole day, preparing the stone, and persuading his friend, also John, to come and lend a hand, and judge the walling. Also, John's wife, Lorna for providing the most delicious array of cakes - they kept us all going! We still have a long way to go, but they made a brilliant start.  Any wallers out there, dying to have a go - just let us know!
Monday, no William again sadly, but David came, and we spent a happy morning planting up more baskets for our Christmas Fair, and labelling them.  After lunch Coln House School visited, with 4 students.  They are busy filling some of the mountains of old tyres with tulip & narcissi bulbs - that'll cheer the place up!

Today was filthy weather - but great excitement, as Radio Gloucestershire came to interview us about the project - well actually the reporter nearly didn't get here he was so lost, but luckily David & Igor, found him and led him here!  The students were great, providing lots of 'digging' background noise, and explaining all the best bits - whilst i hopefully put across our need for funds, and volunteer helpers! - It's on BBC IPLAYER for the next 5 days, if anyone wants to listen... Ben, ably helped by some very bedraggled students, has sorted the fencing for the Turkeys and Ducks, (Danny will be over the moon tomorrow!) and they have made a gate out of the Ash seedlings (I knew they'd come in handy!) and chicken wire.  I was very touched this morning, when the guys arrived with a pumpkin pie for us, that they had made at home - Thank you guys!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Wed / Thurs 10/11 Nov

The weather was stunning yesterday - so we got on with ... yes more fencing!  Mike & Simon put up three more posts - no mean feat with our limestone site - they had to be concreted in!  Steve & Anita made a beatiful path from the gate to the polytunnel, desperately needed for this lovely rain we've got today.  Pm we all piled into the Land Rover, and went to look at the Duchy Pig set up on the Whiteway - thousands of pigs/piglets of all ages (up to 26 weeks) being free-ranged organically on about 50 acres.  A very slick set up.  We were trying to persuade Thomas that he really doesn't want to take the 'runt' of Lucy's latest litter home with them to Cheltenham!  I think he got the picture, and has persuaded Bev to enjoy them on the farm here instead!
Today the weather was terrible first thing, so we all piled in the Rover again, and went off to the market.  Lots to look at, and everyone enjoyed themselves - it also took up the morning which was useful, as i didn't have enough helpers at home!  PM - yes, youv'e guessed it - MORE fencing - Danny (our Thursday student) is still obsessing about his turkeys, and is desperate for us to finish a pen for them! Finished off Tina's delicious brownies with several cuppas, and then Steve et al, piled more stones into their boot for their rockery being built at home.
Exhausted, and my back's killing me, but i've had such great feed back so far, that it's definitely worth it!  I just need more volunteers now..... Anyone out there??!
Our first day of the 'pilot' - dawned bright and beautiful, and early!  Mike & John managed to get the generator going to warm up the portacabin for our break time - most important.  The first 'student' to arrive was William - full of enthusiasm - i was a little concerned when he asked me whether we had a 'man trap' on the farm, but he set to quite happily with my volunteer helper, Ben, collecting tools and cleaning them.  David and Leggo planted up bulbs in the poly tunnel, ready for a Christmas Fair at the end of November.  David was very keen to have a photo taken with his bulbs - so Luke duly obliged!

William and Ben then had a photo opportunity with their ash and hazel 'obelisk' they made with hedgerow seedlings.  After a lovely sunny lunch break - taken outside the portacabin (more photo opportunities) we trudged up the track with two wheelbarrows to collect bricks for raised beds.  This proved harder work than we realised, so another break was needed to sample more of Tina & her friends' delicious Brownies, with a cup of tea - in the sun again!  Finally we sorted and collected 18 tyres (those dreaded tyres that we thought we would have to bury!) for making another raised bed on the site.  Apart from having to wait nearly an hour for David's lift home, a great day was had by all.  A huge thank you to Ben & Legs for all their help, and to Ella & Luke for 'being around' to call on.

P.S. unfortunately our two 'girls' who were supposed to be here today failed to show - could have been my fault, but it has reinforced the need for me to double/treble my procedures for confirming places - MORE paperwork.......

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Monday 9 November

Firstly, on Friday, we had a visit from Coln House School.  Helena brought 3 students and a tutor with her - in the pouring rain!  The boys didn't seem to care about the rain, and set to, collecting more old tyres to make into a raised bed area.  They lined them with old plastic and spent an hour happily filling them with muck.  We found a dormouse nesting in one of the tyres - not sure what they'll think about being part of a garden feature!
I had a lovely note through afterwards, to say how much they had enjoyed their visit, and they will be coming every other week from now on - a great help, thank you Helena. ps thank you for the chicken wire too!

Monday, the weather was awful again, and William rang in ill, so we just had David.  He and Sue spent the morning in the poly tunnel, watering, and planting up broad beans - i need to get my camera charged up again, David's very keen on having 'photo evidence'!  Ben and I finished off the chicken wire fence, just the rails to go on now, and wheeled more palings up to the site, to make a path up to the poly tunnel - it's getting a bit slippery, not to mention muddy.

One small disaster - the 'Cob' chickens we are building a pen for, are not going to arrive after all - they started cannibalising each other (spelling?) and so have gone to the freezer earlier than planned!  Oops, oh well, these things happen - now on the look out for some more.  Lucy is supplying 2 lovely Aylesbury ducks that should start laying, and of course we've got Danny's turkeys arriving, once the pens are finished!

pps Radio Gloucestershire rang me yesterday, having had a press release through - i was on my horse at the time, so couldn't talk for too long, but i'm hoping they might do a site visit tomorrow, to discuss a broadcast for volunteers - would be fantastic if they can!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Wednesday & Thursday 3/4 Nov

What a day!  We had more helpers than students today!  Lucy, my sister was on hand to help this week, so the students got a good 'animal' start!  Simon, Steve, Bev & Barry arrived armed with bags of pears & apples, so they had great fun feeding the goats; Jessica, Rebecca and their offspring.  The rest of the morning was spent in the poly tunnel with 'Bodgit & Scarper' - the new names for Bev and Tracey - who were trying to make a planter out of recycled wood - ably assisted by Susie standing astride the said wood!  )Barry finished it off in 5 minutes today for them!) Simon and Lucy meanwhile planted up the two recycled beds with beautiful winter salad plants.  Steve and the rest searched Scrubditch for some large tyres (not difficult if any of you know the farm!) and dragged them into the poly; filled them up with well rotted muck, and then today they planted them up with some old potatoes, and really quick growing 'pea shoots'!
After lunch the team helped Lucy get the sheep in to 'grade' them for market today.  Simon & Steve finished off the day, raiding the track for old bricks & stones for their rockery; and a bag full of muck for their garden!

Today, Bob was assisting, and everyone got to work, with all the chicken wire we could scrounge to 'fence' in our soon to arrive Chickens - we've now run out of wire, and i've asked Coln House, who are coming over tomorrow, if they can bring some with them, and help finish off the pens! Simon & Bob took cuttings of the lavender and rosemary, which Simon's taking back home to plant out in their garden.  Once again Simon managed to bag up another load of muck for their garden at home!
After lunch Bob gave the boys a great guided tour of his apple & cider store; showing them how to work the press, and sampling the apple juice.
Somewhere along the way today, Dan, one of the students has managed to talk his way into us having two of Lucy's turkeys up on the site to fatten up for Christmas - or next Easter??!  I did ask him who was supposed to look after them on the other 6 days he's not around - to no avail - he's got his heart set on it now, and indeed was helping to dig a hole for his first pole for the turkey pen!  He's gone home to look up information about turkeys for next week - do they lay eggs, and can we eat them etc.,!

Will try and upload some of the photos we've taken over the last week or so.....

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Monday 1 November 2010

Well, we've managed our first week - so to speak!  I had to cancel last wednesday, as i didn't have enough volunteers, but we had a lovely day on Thursday, with Danny, Tom & Simon.  Bob & Fran were my very trusty helpers for the day, and we had a seriously 'hands on' care manager for the day too.  The boys worked really  hard filling two old stone drain covers stacked up on the site, with a combination of soil, very well rotted manure, and top soil.  In the afternoon, they helped clear the car park, levelling, and picking out the stone from the dim and distant wall that used to be there.  This is being cleared ready for our first 'fund raising' event on the site; a dry stone walling competition!  We had great fun, and everyone worked really hard.

Today we had Will & David back.  Will was assistant to Ben, and between them they have made two planters up for the poly tunnel.  These were put together from an old cattle 'feeder' that had definately seen better days.  David and i potted up more baskets for the Christmas Fair, and watered all the other baskets from last week.  Will and Ben have started on the fencing round the site - using the ash seedlings that Mike cut down from the jungle in July, they have shaped them to fit along the top of the posts - a very fetching post 'n' rail effect.  Once the chicken wire goes up, this will provide a secure 'chicken zone' for our Cobs that are ready for collection.  David & I spent the afternoon wheeling loads of muck 'n' soil back & forward to the poly tunnel filling the planters that Will & Ben had made.  I wheeled the full barrows, with orders from David, and he wheeled the empty barrows!  I've just been to see Shelley for a back massage, so feeling a lot better now!

These two guys, Will & David work at a gentler pace than the others during the week, but none the less, have achieved a lot over their two days.
Unfortunately we had a break in on the farm last week, and the generator was stolen, so we have had to hire one, and it just about heats up the portacabin 'mess room' - we've been incredibly lucky with the weather, so only need a heater on to take the chill off first thing.
I have some very supportive friends, who have already started fund raising, and hopefully we will get enough to pay for the electrics to be installed before Christmas!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

New Beginnings!

Monday 18th October 2010

Well, i've decided that the best way to tell everyone about my project is to start a blog! I know that most of my friends (especially family!) will find that hard to imagine, as i'm positively allergic to 'facebook' and most other forms of communication, other than email! 

The Care Farm Project started taking shape last year, after a family friend persuaded me that while our daughter Ella, is away at college, i should put my ideas for creating the Care Farm into practise.  Hopefully, we will have the project up and running fairly smoothly by the time Ella finishes her farming college, and then she will be able to help us.   Having 'bagged' a completely overgrown site off my parents, we set to work in July to start clearing it.  (See photos attached)  I naively thought that a group of volunteers and i could clear it by hand, but it quickly became apparent that we would need a serious 'digger'.  With the help of John and Mark, two local builder/clearers, and another friend of the family, who runs a business hiring diggers out, we got the site cleared - i think we ended up hiring one for about 4 weeks!  However, it did mean that we could get it done fairly quickly - we'd never have got going otherwise.  Helen & Chris from Coln House, brought some students over, and with my trusty group of helpers we spent a lovely afternoon, stripping Ash seedlings, stone picking, clearing endless tyres (from the silage clamp that inhabited the site previously) plaiting baler twine, and generally mucking about!  We filled a huge skip with metal detritus from all over the farm, and got the princely sum of £750, from the local metal buyers.

Nearly three months on, and i now have two second hand portacabins (one for a mess room, one for loos) and a 57 foot polytunnel, and a lovely nearly clear site -still with some stone picking to do with the students.

I found the polytunnel on a wonderful website called 'Pre-loved' up near Bromsgrove; where it was being used to house peacocks!  The portacabins came from Avonmouth - there seems to be a maze of them down there.....Again my trusty helper John, had to accompany me, as there was no way Ella and i would have found them on our own!

We had our first 'open morning' two weeks ago, where several Care Homes came for a look round with their residents.  It was a miserable looking day, but even so they were all SO enthusiastic, that it was quite overwhelming, and once again convinced us that we are doing the right thing, offering this facility.  So many adults with learning difficulties, don't have enough to do during the week - no matter what age, we can and will  be able to offer them the chance to become actively involved in the Farm, improving their self esteem, and providing them with skills to give them a better chance of gaining employment.

I haven't begun to mention all the paper work that goes with trying to set up a facility like this - suffice to say it's not for the faint hearted!  We are in the throws of applying for government / charitable trust funding, but of course these things are never simple, and a lot of the funds are only available for Charitable Companies.  We are looking into setting up a charity, but it takes time, and money to do it, and the pilot project needs to take priority, in order to 'feed into' the funding applications.

Now, we have the final week to frantically get enough stuff to keep the students busy over the next 10 weeks for our pilot project!  I am after bulbs to plant up for a Christmas Fair at the end of November, and tools to help build the runs for the chickens & ducks.  My bantams that one of my Carer's mum gave me have laid their first two eggs - so exciting!  I'm hoping that if i leave them she may go broody, and then we can have a little flock of 'oklahoma' bantams!  We will probably wait till the spring to install the pigs, sheep etc., on the site, and the students will in the meantime, help with the farm animals when needed - as long as Health & Safety permits!

I may not post another blog till we have started next Monday - as time is a bit short, but will keep you posted.