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Annika Rees, Pierrepont Farm’s education officer, is holding a FREE, drop-in Easter Egg Hunt “with a difference” for children on Wednesday 1st April, between 10am and 1pm.

Annika hasn’t told us what the “difference” is but we know it is NOT an April Fool and will involve Easter eggs.

(Talking of April Fools, this post originally said 1st April is a Tuesday — which is wrong — and was corrected at around 1530 on Wednesday 25th March. Apologies for our confusion…)

For more information, please email Annika at: annikar@countrysiderestorationtrust.com

The entrance to Pierrepont Farm is off The Reeds Road in Frensham, between the Rural Life Centre and the Frensham Garden Centre. Look out for the farm sign on the same side of the road as the garden centre and about 100 metres before or after the garden centre’s gates, depending on which direction you are travelling. Satnav users need to enter the postcode GU10 3BP.

This post is “sticky” and will remain here until after the event. Please scroll down for later posts.


FFFW

What used to be called just “Open Day” is now the Festival of Food, Farming and Wildlife and aims to promote a better understanding of the link between farming, wildlife and the food on our plates.

As ever, entry and parking are free and there will be a chance to visit the milking parlour and watch our pedigree Jersey cows milking themselves.

It all happens at Pierrepont Farm on Sunday 7th June, between 11am and 4pm.

The entrance to Pierrepont Farm is off The Reeds Road in Frensham, between the Rural Life Centre and the Frensham Garden Centre. Look out for the farm sign on the same side of the road as the garden centre and about 100 metres before or after the garden centre’s gates, depending on which direction you are travelling. Satnav users need to enter the postcode GU10 3BP.

This post is “sticky” and will remain here until after the event. Please scroll down for later posts.


Herd’s out!

by Rod Kebble

Our thanks to Zoë Clear for providing these photographs of the Pierrepont milking herd of pedigree Jersey cows as they were released back into the fields last Saturday (March 21st), after their winter incarceration.

Three members of the herd race down the concrete slope leading to the fields. Never let anyone kid you that cows want to be locked up year-round in factory-farm sheds.

Three members of the herd race down the concrete slope leading to the fields. Never let anyone kid you that cows want to be locked up year-round in factory-farm sheds.

The cows have to be kept indoors during the winter months, as (a) there is very little grass in the fields for them to eat and it is of poor quality, and (b) if they were left in the fields in wet winter weather, their hooves would churn up (“poach”) the ground and any grass trying to grow in it.

Two cows jump for joy at the chance to stretch their legs after spending the winter months inside.

A chance to stretch their legs after spending the winter months inside…

As anyone who has seen the cows race indoors when it rains — as they can now do since the robotic milking machines were installed in 2011 — can testify, they do not like getting wet any more than do humans. Although the dairy has open sides, there is a roof to keep off the rain and retain the heat generated by the herd itself.

Only one foot touches the ground as a cow runs into the field with a group of her firends.

Only one foot touches the ground as this cow runs into the field.

The animals also enjoy waiter service throughout the winter, as herdsman Tony Timmis delivers freshly-prepared meals directly to their stalls. The food is based on the silage made from maize grown on the farm and mixed with other goodies, such as fodder beet, just before serving. That said, one can’t help wondering if the joy shown by these cows, as they see a field of grass once more, reflects in some way on Tony’s cooking…

All four hooves in the air as another cow reaches the pasture again.

All four hooves in the air as this cow reaches the pasture again.

Visitors to the Easter Egg Hunt next Wednesday (1st April) and the Festival of Food, Farming and Wildlife on Sunday 7th June will be able to see the cows milking themselves in the robotic milking parlour and visit the recently-arrived calves. Entry and parking for both events are free and further details appear just above this post — scroll up to see them. (If you have followed an external link to this page, navigate to the Home page instead, where the event details are at the head of the posts column.) Follow this link for directions to Pierrepont Farm.

Correction, 25th March at 1533 hours: this post originally described 1st April as being on a Tuesday. It is in fact a Wednesday. Apologies for our confusion.

A cow kneels down to rub her cheek in the grass.

Aaah, meadow!

Platform provides
pondlifeology pupils’ perfect perch

by Rod Kebble

If you’d gone down to Pierrepont Farm on Tuesday, 6th January, you’d have been sure of a big surprise — for a team from Norfolk-based woodworkers, Flights of Fantasy, were building a pond-dipping platform across one corner of the pond in front of the dairy.

The platform was built out from the dairy end towards the south side of the pond, with men in waders working in the water.

This photo was taken at about 1045 on 6th January and shows the first sections being put into place, building out from the dairy end towards the south side of the pond.

Made possible by grants from the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and The Cobb Charity — to whom we are extremely grateful — the construction of the platform will allow several pond-dippers at once to cast their nets without getting their feet wet and/or leaving their boots stuck in the mud at the pond’s edges.

After a couple of hours, the platform reached the further shore. In order not to puncture the self-sealing Bentomat geosynthetic clay lining of the pond, the six pairs of legs rest on pads designed to spread the load.

A couple of hours later and the platform has reached the other shore. In order not to puncture the self-sealing Bentomat geosynthetic clay lining of the pond, the six pairs of legs rest on pads designed to spread the load.

It is anticipated that the platform will get plenty of use by school groups (and others) visiting the farm in term time and from visitors to school holiday activity mornings, as well as on the farm’s 2015 open day on Sunday 7th June, which will take the form of a Festival of Farming, Food and Wildlife. Successful dippers to all such events will be able to examine their catches in the education room located in the nearby dairy building.

The next morning, there was a hard frost but the workmen had departed and there was no need for wading in these icy conditions. The pond was created in May 2011, shortly after the new dairy opened, and is fed by rainwater from the dairy's 2,500 square metre roof. The pond was deliberately left to stock itself, which it quickly did.

A photo taken the next morning, showing the presence of a hard frost. Fortunately, the workmen had departed and there was no need for wading in these icy conditions. The pond was created in May 2011, shortly after the new dairy opened, and is fed by rainwater from the dairy’s 2,500 square metre roof. The pond was deliberately left to stock itself, which it quickly did.



Two days later, the weather was positively balmy and the blue sky was reflected in the now undisturbed waters of the pond.

Two days after the installation of the platform, the weather had changed again and looked positively balmy. Pond-dippers may analyse their catch in the education room, located to the left of the dairy’s clock tower.

2014 Autumn/Winter bird survey

by Rod Kebble

The monitoring group conducted its eighth annual Autumn/Winter bird survey on 10th and 15th November.

The results of the survey by transect begin here and the updated species list is shown here.

Salient points to emerge from the survey are that there were more species observed than in the past two years but fewer numbers of the more common species — except woodpigeon and jackdaw. A woodcock was seen for only the second time on a scheduled survey (though others have been sighted in Tankersford Wood at other times), while collared dove and mandarin were seen for the first time during a winter survey.