Report – December 2017

It was a month of extremes. It was -4°C on the 12th and yet 12°C on the 30th. And we had over 15mm of rain on the 10th, 26th and 29th.

We worked a total of 217 hours in December – 35 hours by staff and 182 hours by volunteers.

These are the things we achieved, with some of the people who achieved them:

  • Soup!! One cold Saturday Leesa made an amazing soup 100% from the land soup using Jerusalem artichoke, beetroot, spinach, onions and herbs – all freshly harvested that day!
  • Potted a range of spring and summer bulbs for sale in the shop. Claudia and Celeste made an ingenious set of labels with cheerful symbols so we don’t get our crocuses confused with our anemones.
  • Made Christmas decorations from our range of logs and poles cleared from the land (Nathan, Peter, Adele)
  • Sawed logs (Dan) donated to us into wood-burner length and then splitting them (Peter).
  • Pruned the hedges running along the pavement on Aldermoor Road (our shop window!) and keeping the paths clear around our pond (Gordon).
  • Chicken news:
    • We had to deal with the aftermath of a fox getting amongst the chickens in our polytunnel. Only 3 were killed – our rooster did a valiant job defending the flock. He took nearly a week to recover, spending most of the time standing with his head resting on the ground in front of him. A few of the hens would lie down under him at night to give him support. “Our hero!”. We now have an electric fence close up to the polytunnel all the way around.
    • We made a large new rain shelter for flock of chickens working over the vegetable beds. The four new chickens donated to us in November are now merged with the vegetable bed flock, with a rooster keeping them all in line.
    • Our polytunnel chickens had a lake form outside their front door with all the heavy rain – we’ve had to dig a ditch right through from front to back to drain it.
  • BioCycle continued to deliver compostables from students – totalling 575kg since October!!
  • Picked the last of our peppery salad mix from the polytunnel and our kale, spinach and chard from the veg beds (Adele, Leesa)
  • Hosted Permaculture Southampton for a morning’s activity on the farm – this is what we did:
    • Pruned back our sea spinach (a perennial variety) and picked over 3kg of good leaves from it (Max, Susan, Geoffroy).
    • Built a palisade from sticks and branches cleared from our chicken meadow to make a new woodchip path down a previously slippery muddy slope to the goose house (Max, Susan, Geoffroy, Helen)
  • Pruned the black currants and were encouraged at how much 1 year old growth there is ready to produced currants this year.
  • Built a Rumford outdoor fireplace – see Winter Warmer below (Leesa, Chelsea, Tim and Ellie).
  • A roe deer jumped over our top fence from higher ground at the top of the hill. We had to break down part of the fence lower down the hill to let it out again. We’ve now adapted the fence so we can un-hook it if that happens again, and we’ve raised the height of the fence at the top of the hill. AND we’ve mended all the chicken fences that the deer turned to matchsticks as it raced around all a-panicked.

Winter warmer
We started the month with some creative heavy lifting – using old breeze blocks and bricks already on the site we made an outdoor fireplace modelled on a Rumford fireplace.

It was very popular on our open day at the beginning of December and much used for our new farm tradition – cooking pizza on a stick.

Saturday 2nd December was our first ever Christmas open day. Full report and videos here.

The fire also gave a very cheery glow to our evening of Christmas songs on the last Friday before Christmas, led by Living Lordswood Community Choir.

We met with West Solent Solar Co-operative to discuss possible grant assistance to help us get mains electricity to the barn (at last!).

We had an exciting meeting with the energetic Robin from Bitterne Box Co where we planned all the veg we are going to grow next year for his doorstep box delivery scheme.

We had a very helpful directors meeting where we discussed how we will cope without Adam in 2018, and how to plan effectively. The main outcomes are in our January news.

In the shop
Our shop was busy throughout December selling the last of our winter salads and greens, and also a new range of decorations and tea light holders made from wood.