01728 685712 | downhamcottage@yahoo.co.uk

Winter 2013 update

Just before Christmas we completed the move to St Peter’s View, Monk Soham. As you can imagine this was a huge undertaking, not only moving house but all the animals and housing also. The new site is a stones throw from our other acreage and enables us to keep a much closer eye on the large animals. Therefore, greatly impr
oving our ability to ensure that the animals welfare is second to none. It also means we have been able to reduce our vehicle use as we longer drive between the two sites.
The new site offers huge potential for additional activities. We now have much more indoor space and a further 3 acres of grazing. The site was originally a 250 sow pig unit, although this ceased almost 20 years ago. Since then some of the buildings have had their use changed and on site now we have a mechanic, a wine company, self storage units and a fully accessible holiday let, plus a range of other former pig buildings. Crucially we now have indoor space for lambing, kidding and farrowing, all with electric so we can see what we’re doing and we’re on hand throughout the night in case of emergencies. The other real bonus is that the buildings are all on a concrete yard and the site is fully accessible for wheelchair users, we even have fully accessible toilets.
The plans we have for the site are really exciting; first and foremost we will be converting one of the buildings into a support building for the farm helpers. We aim to provide a basic but comfortable area for the farm helpers to have lunch, cook the produce they have helped produce and socialise with their fellow farm helpers. The building needs to be fully insulated first, heating installed, plastered, decorated and finally a kitchen installed. All tasks we hope to be able to involve the farm helpers in…..what an opportunity to gain more new skills!
We will then focus on the other buildings and hope to turn them into craft workshops for the farm helpers. Hopefully, we will have a carpentry workshop, willow weaving workshop amongst others. Long term we would also like to have a smokehouse and potentially use one of the barns for a ‘pop up’ restaurant.
We will be hosting an opening event in the spring to showcase the care farm and to give potential commissioners and farm helpers the opportunity to come and see the site for themselves. Details to follow as soon as we’ve set a date!
On the farm itself we have had a series of ups and downs. On the down side we lost our beautiful ‘Peanut’ the Jersey steer we kept for company for our little heifer ‘Zelda’. He had a freak accident and broke his shoulder, so we had no choice but to have him put down. On the up side we have had our first lambs of the year and our first goat kid. We are now eagerly awaiting more lambs, kids and hopefully by the end of the month piglets!
The weather has been challenging to say the least. We lost a number of our huge Willow trees back in October and now we are doing our best to cope with the seemingly never ending rain and wind. Our bottom field resembled a river last week and the horses’ field has a huge lake in it! There are however, some signs of spring, the churchyard next to us is awash with snowdrops and aconites…..a truly welcome splash of colour at this time of year.
Don’t forget for more regular updates about the farm, people and animals follow us on facebook. In the meantime, here’s hoping for a dry warm spring and lots of healthy new arrivals on the farm.