♬~Happy birthday to you~♫ Happy birthday to you~♪ Happy birthday dear Ednaaaaa~♩ Happy birthday to you!
Edna, our resident Barn Owl, is celebrating her 6th birthday today! Livestock Manager Tom has treated her to some new decorations in her aviary.
Edna has been living with Tom since she was 10 weeks old, so it’s been quite a while! Because Edna was hand raised, she’s never been suitable to be released into the wild, so is very content with living amongst humans. In the wild, most Barn Owls don’t make it to their first year, but in captivity with proper care they can live upwards of 15 years, so Edna’s got many more years ahead of her!
If you don’t already, you should definitely check out our instagram account!
As if the coming summer wasn’t busy enough, we’ve had a troop of new arrivals at the farm. If you’ve popped down in the past couple of weeks, you might have noticed a rather handsome looking group of goats has turned up! They are currently in isolation in one of our large pens on the farmyard, but hopefully it won’t be long before they can go out and join the other livestock grazing in the paddocks.
There’s more to these goats than meets the eye though! These are Cheviot Landrace Goats, a truly Old English breed. Without getting too complicated, if you were to go back in time these are the goats you would find roaming feral across the English countryside. They were deemed a pest, and bought very close to extinction. The 9 goats we’ve got at Deen City Farm have come from a Thorndon Country Park in Essex, and will form the start of our breeding group!
Even though these goats have been used to living without much human contact, it’s amazing how fast they can settle in! The kids are still a bit shy, but the adults are very happy to come over and check out any hands for tasty grass nuts. Did you know that goats are the second fastest animal to adjust to living feral? (Cats being the fastest!), it seems the opposite is true too, and they’re very quick to get used to people as well!
The goats that were chosen from the herd to come to Deen City Farm were picked out with the assistance of our colleague (and master of all things goat!) Ray Werner, an expert on all things Cheviot Goat. When it comes to picking the ideal goats, it’s not just about picking out the ones that you like the look of, you need to know what to look for (hence Ray’s expert input!). The one male and three females were picked out from the crowd based on their colour patterns, good conformation and movement as well as meeting the breed standards devised by the Cheviot Landrace Goat society.
After a nervous few days, it wasn’t long before the goats have settled well into city farm life, generally minding their own business unless there’s any tasty snacks on offer! The kids are a little bit nervous, but we’re getting there! Come down and say hello to them during the summer!
If you’ve been following our Facebook or Instagramposts (which you should be!) you might have seen some photos of our newest arrivals at the farm. This week we’ve had two very small and very cute new comers to the farm. Say hello to Spritz and Blitz! They are a brother and sister pair of 12 week old Pygmy Goats. At the moment they’re a bit nervous – it’s a lot to take on, going from their quite small holding onto a busy little farm, so they might be a bit shy for now, but we hope that will change shortly!
Pygmy goats are a popular breed for people to keep; you may have seen some before at other farms. They’re small (as the name might give away) and like most goats, can be very friendly! These two are still a bit nervous around people, so it’ll take them a while to get used to their new life, but we reckon they’ll soon settle in.
This particular pair are locally bred, from the lovely people behind Pecking Orders!
The lambs have arrived, Spring is definitely in the air! Our first pair of lambs was born during a sunny lunch break at the start of this month and the other ewes soon decided to follow suit. We’ve ended up with 7 new arrivals in total (three sets of doubles and one big burly single). With the help of our Junior Volunteers they’ve been christened Edgar, Eleanor, Audrey, Anne, Grace, Galileo and Martin.
At Deen City Farm we keep a flock of Poll Dorset sheep, which lamb every year around late February/March time. If you ever see a breed or animal described as a “poll” or “polled” it means it doesn’t have horns – the Poll Dorset sheep is descended from an old English breed known as the Dorset Horn, which as you can imagine from the name, is well recognised for it’s rather impressive, large curly horns. We’ve got a soft spot for our Poll Dorset sheep, not only do they have a great personality (even our ram, Herman, is a gentle giant) but they make exceedingly cute lambs. Judge for yourself!
If you want to try your luck with telling them apart, the stock marker letters on the side of all the sheep will definitely help out. The ewes can tell which lambs are theirs from their smell and calls, but for us humans it’s a little bit harder. Every sheep (apart from the boys in their separate field) has the first letter of their name on them – with the lambs, the names begin with the same letter as their mothers name, and the letters in blue are girls, and any in green are boys. Simple!
The first half term of the year is upon us! We’ll be running our school holiday activities as listed below from the Tuesday 14th to Friday 17th. Please be aware that, as we normally are, we’ll be closed to the public on Monday 13th.
As per usual, we’ll be running our Own A Pony and Young Farmer days across Tuesday – Friday (Now fully bookable online via our website, you can check availability and pay via the Holiday Schemes webpage). A full day helping on the farm or working with the horses for ages 8+, check out the above link for more information on what the day might entail.
Will take place in the yellow and white marquee out by the fields will be taking place from 10:00 – 12:00pm and 2:00 – 4:00pm Tuesday – Friday at £2 a go. A chance to get up close and personal with our small pets.
Will be in the gardens at the end of the arena, Tuesday – Friday at 12:00pm and weekends at 3:00pm at £2 a go, for ages 7 and under.
Barn Owl Café
Will be open full days, 10:00am until 4:00pm (take away only from 3:00pm).
If you’ve not been in a while, the bridge next to the farm entrance is now fixed and accessible to the public, hurrah! Once again there’s easy access onto the farm entrance from Phipps Bridge Road, making it an easy walk once again from the Phipps Bridge tram stop to the farm.
We aim to put on a full roster of activities throughout the holidays, but it may depend on staff availability. If anything is likely to vary we’ll aim to update via our Facebook page as soon as possible!
With our new aviary finished (housing our quail, canaries and finches) and all the birds moved across we were finally able to start disassembling our old one. The old aviary was originally built in 2002 and has certainly stood the test of time for a while. In fact it’s been there for so long that none of the staff really had any idea what might be beneath it (turns out, just a lot of soil and concrete).
After 15 years though, it was on its last legs, especially with all the mesh taken off and strong winds forecast over the weekend, we decided to help speed up the process of getting it down with some help from staff, volunteers and a bit of elbow grease.
In terms of what will happen to the space, we’ve got some grand plans for what might happen in the main yard, but for now we’ll be busy shovelling out soil for a while yet!