what we lack in hill we gain in crystals

We’re at a farm trust near to Glastonbury, Somerset for about 10 days. I say ‘about’ because we were planned for a week here and then a week at a nearby farm but due to problems there we are staying on here for an extra few days but I don’t yet know quite how many. Which is fine as we are enjoying it, learning loads and adding huge amounts to our ‘stories to tell’ quota 🙂

We are in Willow for the week but without hook up, so relying on charging up laptops etc in the house every couple of days and torchlight for cooking and eating and evenings. But it’s cosy and warm and beats a tent!

This is a very different experience again as the farm trust exists to bring opportunities for experiencing the countryside and farming to people who would not otherwise access it. This means trips from cities, adults and children with learning difficulties, special educational needs, rehabilitation for substance or alcohol abuse aswell as being part of the local community and a working farm. It is currently in a quite downsized phase of it’s 25 year history but on the up with big plans afoot and changes happening all the time. The livestock here includes: a goat, four sheep (three ewes all pregnant, and a ram), two pigs (mother and daughter – grandmother/mother and four siblings are in the freezer, we’ve been enjoying them as sausages!), seven hens and a cockerel. The land includes a couple of orchards, a paddock and various fields for animals including Silver the pony who also lives here, a small area of woodland where an outdoor classroom is in the process of being built for forest school type activities, an enclosed organic fruit and vegetable patch with 3 polytunnels and a wildlife pond, and along with the farmhouse there is a barn being converted into a farm shop, a workshop and art room, feed shed, a long house and a hostel style building with self contained kitchen and bathroom facilities and a fab playground with wooden equipment along with a fire pit and pizza oven. We are parked up between the pigs pen and the playground, bliss for Dragon and Star all round 🙂

We’re quickly learning that no two days are typical but there is a rhythm and pattern to our days which begin nice and leisurely with us rising around 8am, listening to the radio to hear the news and some of Chris Evans early morning banter while we breakfast and get dressed – the last couple of mornings we’ve been breakfasting outside it is so lovely. From the windows of the van we can see the pigs, various fields containing all sorts of wildlife but sparrowhawks, buzzards and starlings doing their murmerations are a fairly common mornings entertainment. We then let the chickens out and feed them, gather food for the pigs and sheep and bring the goat round with his breakfast to walk alongside us from his night time dwelling in the yard to his daytime haunt of the field with the pony. Never did we anticipate taking a goat for a walk twice a day 🙂

Once all the animals are in the right place with food we tackle whatever task we’ve been alloted. So far this has included fencing, moving brash about, lighting and tending bonfires, clipping the goat and sheep hooves, riding on the trailer to different parts of the farm and woodland, helping light a fire in the woods to burn brash and load the tractor, working in the orchard clearing pruned branches ready for firewood or burning, taking down an old fence, cleaning out the feed bins, helping to chicken proof a chicken run and much more. We have learnt about feeding and keeping animals, pruning apple trees, using various tools, driving the tractor and loads more.

We have spent time walking locally, into Glastonbury, up the Tor, visited the neighbours who had a pizza oven warming party and we were then invited back the next day for a private session in the swimming pool in exchange for some photos of the kids enjoying the pool for their website. We also had a tour round the 350year old holiday cottages, reputed to be haunted with the kids playing Ghostbusters. We’ve visisted the food co op our hosts also run and met a huge variety of people who live and work in the area too.

It’s yet another different experience to the last host; challenges are new and different and Glastonbury itself has taken a little getting used to. Working days are far less intense and more laid back and flexible but we are fending for ourselves a lot more food wise and making our own workload a lot of the time which is a huge contrast to the last couple of weeks.

The down time is free, fabulous and very welcome 🙂

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