Category Archives: Screveton

The New Cafe

In the last few years of our time on the farm there was a certain amount of conflict, which I hope I managed to conceal in the blog.

There were two schools of thought – one being that the kitchen had been built to deliver educational sessions and promote healthy eating. This was a view shared by me, Julia, the funders and several other people.

Then there was the view that it existed as a plaything for the farmer and his sister to hold family parties and loss-making social activities.

I think we know who won.

Looking at it now, it seems our (short-lived) replacements did a lot of work and appear to have transformed it into a replica of a South American shanty, including corrugated iron, re-used wood and coffee sacks. You half expect Indiana Jones to stroll in.

Unfortunately, the kitchen, despite the extension,The End is not now a practical venue for teaching. It will, once they have staff again, be an interesting place to eat, but we will no longer be teaching a thousand kids a year to make pizza or scones.

Nor, I feel, will it host the bread group again.

The final photograph is a young Wren. There were five of them but this was the best I could do. They are so quick! It’s a cheerful way to end the post, and a reminder of all the broods the Wrens have reared round the centre in the last five years.

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Wren at Screveton

 

 

The Wasteland

No, not the poem, just a judgement on the remains of our old Butterfly Garden. We had a look while we were visiting the farm on Friday to visit Men in Sheds.

There is nobody in the centre or kitchen anymore, as things didn’t work out. This is a shame as they did a lot of work and it has presumably cost them a lot of money. It may still be costing them money if they signed a lease.

Sadly, without our (free) help, the farm appears unable to maintain the place.

Standing and looking at the place we spent five years working you half expect a tumbleweed to roll past, or a loose door to creak in the wind.

The willow work is out of control, the buddleias are going mad and the log xylophone has been torn out.

In other beds the shasta daisies, the borage and the oregano have all been ripped out.

As a result we didn’t see many as many pollinators as we should have been and there were no brown butterflies, which used to love the oregano.

 

It’s seven months since we had to close down (or were evicted, to be more accurate) and the negative feelings are gradually fading as we move other things.

It’s also time to re-evaluate the title and content of the blog, as it’s clearly no longer the story of a Nottinghamshire Care Farm. I’ve been thinking of this for a while, and putting it off as it seems so final.

Seven days to go

Yesterday we mixed the Christmas Cakes (using a Mary Berry recipe) and tied up some loose ends. As the day closed it started to sink in that we only have seven more days with the group. It’s starting to sink in for them too, as the rehearsals aren’t going too well and they are starting to worry about it. I’m not sure why – we’ve never bothered with high standards before and people still clap and enjoy it. It’s about the effort, not the quality.

The dancing is making progress but the Technicolour Dreamcoat number isn’t going too well and we haven’t even started on I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts. Fortunately this is our Christmas party rather than Britain’s Got Talent so there’s nothing but enjoyment at stake. Having said that, if we did enter BGT I don’t think we’d actually come last; bad as we are (and I personally can’t carry a tune in a bucket) I have seen worse.

We’ve had a rest from pom-poms as they all made their wreaths last week and took them home (before I was able to photograph them). I just need to make a few more then I may make a wreath, or I may allow the ladies to use them when we visit the Care Home for a wreath making session (though we keep saying we will call them garlands – same thing but without the funereal connotations).

Then again, I may just concentrate on cookery for the party – I want to make sure we go out with a good spread. We have a plan for a gingerbread wreath so I may make that instead.

The group did the poultry work as usual and replaced a faulty drinker, had a couple of walks through the trees, found a dead sheep, made a few individual craft projects, put up some Christmas decorations and did the composting, so it was a reasonably full day.

As part of the process of closing down we have given everyone their folders to take home. Some of them are inches thick with things they have done while they have been here, others (depending on how long they have been here, and how industrious they have been) are not quite so thick. Even so, there are a lot of memories in those folders and I’m beginning to feel a little maudlin at the thought of breaking up the group.

Feels like time for a bit of Housman. Nobody does maudlin quite like Housman.

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

 

 

Screveton through the Looking Glass

Well, that’s the paperwork up to date. I can clear my desk with a clear conscience now and feel virtuous until we start tomorrow morning – that’s a whole 17 hours.

I’ve been struggling with the organisation of the Lammas Fun Run. The two things (one being an ancient Anglo-Saxon festival of Loaf Mass) and the other being a twenty first century celebration of people looking uncomfortable whilst running. At least Loaf Mass does what it says on the tin. Fun Run isn’t fun, and it’s barely running. Now, I’m no athlete, as you might have gathered from my comments on food, exercise and youth, so I do admire fun-runners: I just don’t understand them.

It’s also another example of the Random Events Generator that seems to be in use round here. Lammas is about loaves. We normally do a couple of wheatsheaf loaves (complete with traditional mouse) – though that’s more a harvest festival sort of thing. Last year we also made soda bread straight from the field (and had it back to the combine crew in time for lunch) and did a couple of plain loaves which were used in the Communion service.

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having mentioned it I’m seriously thinking of building a random event generator – that’s for “Events” as in Open days and such, rather than just things that happen. What with guinea fowl and goats we have enough randomness in everyday events not to need any more. No, this is Over 60’s Limbo Championship territory, plus the Santa Fire Walk and Full Contact Knitting. We already have Breakfast and Yoga next Saturday and Doga in a couple of months. That’s Yoga combined with dog walking – I’m told it can be a bit lively when the dogs get together.

Yes, it’s like the Through the Looking Glass version of The Office working here.

Fortunately I’m not in it for the money or the glory, I just like a laugh and the feeling I’m doing a bit of good.

So let’s see what the next week brings.

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And watch out for the further adventures of Farmer Ted…

 

Buzzards in the snow

Another trip to Peterborough and not a kite to be seen. There was only one kestrel and that was hunched on a lamp post by the side of the A52 pretending to be a buzzard.

I did manage to get three good views of buzzards.They were all pale forms and they were all puffed up against the cold. It must be a miserable existence being a bird in winter. One of the sightings was unusual because the bird was perching in a tree by the side of a flyover. As I drove past I actually had the strange experience of looking down on a perching buzzard – even if I was only looking down on it by a matter of inches.

It was a good day for magpies, hopping around on ground that was conveniently coloured black and white by melting snow.

Back at home I went through the back of a bird watching magazine, the section where they list all the rarities. Last month we went past a pond and saw a white heron-sized bird. Great white egret, I decided, though it’s nice to confirm there has been one about. I couldn’t see any news of one on the internet but the magazine report shows there were some sightings in Derbyshire, which will do for me. It also shows there were ring-necked parakeets seen in West Bridgford and Aspley, though we haven’t seen any recently.

Glad to say we’ll be starting back in a few days as I want to start getting things ready for the bird watch and the porridge day, and get my Christmas present into action. Yes, it will be all action once we get back…

Looking back

It was a crisp December day today, which was good because a wet, grey day would have taken a lot of the fun out of it. We had a change of gear today with the Christmas Event and though Santa and Elf worked in harmony we still managed to scare two children. I tried to  make one happier about the situation by taking my wig and beard off to show him there was just a normal man underneath it all but this just made things worse.

Either I have a face that scares children or, as Tim put it: “To him it just looks like you peeled your face off.”

Sometimes you just can’t win. On the other hand when you examine the picture there is definitely a touch of Dan Aykroyd and Trading Places in my eyes,

What was particularly good about the day was that we saw quite a few new people and were able to talk about the farm. That’s always good because, as we found at the conference last year, when you talk to other people you realise what progress you have made. To be honest, although I’m there most days it’s a case of not seeing the wood for the trees. This is ironic when you see what I do when I look out of the window (i’ll post a picture tomorrow).

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We made the penguins from beads – only sold one but thought they were worth a picture anyway,

Kestrel!

We’ve always done a bit of bird watching on the farm, partly because we have birds to watch and partly because it allows me to sit and relax. It also teaches a number of important skills such as concentration, being quiet and sitting still. When you have learning difficulties you can be given to twitchiness and talking continually so it’s useful to have an activity which rewards efforts to control the condition.

One of the things we’have been watching recently has been a kestrel hovering over the field where the new woodland has been planted. I say “new woodland” but at the moment it’s sticks and tussocky grass, which is good hunting ground for kestrels. Sometimes the bird hovers in the area around the recently erected Neighbours statue and once or twice people have told me they saw it perching on the head.

I have been trying to get a shot of it but I’ve never had my camera with me at the right time and I’ve never actually seen it perching on the head. It all changed today when I managed to spot it perching while I had my camera in my hand.

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Tim found some pellets in the hood of the male figure when he was putting the Christmas lights on the statues so it looks like we’ve inadvertently erected a kestrel habitat.