Open farm, MOT and Creosote...

Emma Heseltine - 24 June 2012

Its Open Farm Sunday this Sunday. The Croft has done every one since it started and a bit of rain isn’t going to stop us inviting people around the farm. We do quite well this year and there is only a little shower in the afternoon. We have all sorts of activities going on during the day including guided walks around the farm which take in Hazel and her new calf Kimberley and the stubborn Helena who hasn’t calved yet. We also show off ponds which the wildlife trust has been digging in the water meadows, which look a bit muddy at the moment, and the orchard which is looking lovely at this time of year. There is the gazebo set up in the small paddock and some volunteers are running a pollinator survey which goes down well, the kids like counting bugs in the field and hedgerows. Back at the Tyler room there are the obligatory tea and scones and in the lambing shed we are shearing the last few sheep in a demonstration. Not me demonstrating I hasten to add, I’m not that good and would take too long! I’ve also got the scales in the pens and we have a happy time guessing the weight of some of the lambs, including Peanut who is in lamb heaven with all the attention she is getting. Just to mix things up we weigh some children as well to compare and decide who is ready for market (lambs not children, I don’t think your allowed to send children to market these days). In all we have a great time, about 100 people turn out and the Cumberland News & Star feature us in the Monday edition with some lovely photos!

We have our inspection on Monday and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much paperwork. I know you have to keep lots of records and have been involved in most of them from the start but to see it all in one place (very neatly lined up, well done boss) brings it home how much we do. Our inspector is very nice and even takes time to give me some tips on my potential pig enterprise – watch this space. We have a tiny marmalade hic-up but otherwise no problems, which considering the amount of reserves and bits of land owned by different people we are now grazing is something of a miracle. Done for another year, farm MOT.

It's summer, although you wouldn’t know it with the rain, so we need to do a little maintenance ready for winter. Halo are going to help us with some creosoting, there are troughs and hay heck’s to do. We give them a clean out and get to sploshing creosote about. It’s a good job it’s not the exceptionally toxic old variety as it gets a bit everywhere. I’m glad of the waterproof trousers I’ve got on but also liberally paint my boots. Thankfully enough ends up on the heck’s and troughs that they will be protected from the elements. Now we just need a bit of good weather so we can go attack all the gates on the farm. That’s a lot of gates.

Emma completed a degree in Creative Imaging at Huddersfield University before working for a photography studio as an editor. Taking a break from the office world she worked in outdoor education for several years, climbing, abseiling, shooting, trampolining and even life-guarding with children of all ages. When Emma found out about the apprenticeship scheme with the Soil Association it seemed the perfect chance to do something worthwhile and fulfilling. After much searching and badgering farms in the North of England she found a position with Hadrian Organics and started in July 2011. So far it is living up to her expectations, every day is a new challenge and every day is different.

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