Lambing is now more than 80% complete, the weather forecast suggests less numbingly cold nights and we had a successful Benefit Society AGM so all in all we go into this week in a reasonably cheerful frame of mind.
Once again we have been very fortunate in those who choose to come to us as Wwoofers. Katrin who left us today became very much ‘one of us’ and we hope she is able to come again next year. As we said goodbye to Katrin we greeted Antje for the second time this year and look forward to her company for the week to follow. While Chris and Tim lead and carry final responsibility for the lambing exercises the contributions of Katja and Leslie have been crucial and we are enormously grateful for their input.
The AGM seemed to go well and the only disappointment was that as people went out on the planned farm walk the heavens opened. Fortunately the poly tunnel was close to provide protection against the downpour and the walkers had reached the barn before the next heavy shower. These showers were of rain; later we had hail and snow!
In hindsight I regret I did not say more about the contribution of Wwoofers to our guests at the meeting. It is not just that without having the support of Wwoofers the garden operation would probably have to close but as importantly they enrich our understanding of other cultures and younger generations, while also allowing us to share our knowledge and enthusiasms.
We had another group of young people visit us on Friday and all went very well – I have a ‘wonky’ knee at the moment so Brendon and Jasper did the honours and did them very well indeed.
Despite the cold nights the gardens are really coming to life and increasingly we are able to meet requests from Worcester Roots and others for salad crops. The soil is still cold and so the temptation to sow has to be controlled! We have covered some of the vegetable beds with black plastic to help the necessary warming up. The problem with this is of course the likelihood of helping the slug population! Increasingly the work out there in the gardening world is that this is going to be a boom year for slug numbers. They are so hard to love!
Next week we have two quite different meetings planned. One with our contractor to arrange for the cultivation and subsequent drilling of one of our big fields with a special pasture seed mix and the other with our Natural England adviser to ensure we fill in the new claim forms properly. Those of you who have been on farm walks will know how important a contribution Natural England makes to our work to bring this farm back to life. Government agencies are often and properly criticised but our experience particularly with their team on the ground has only been positive.