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e took charge of our new flock of eight sheep at the end of November. Given the ground conditions this was an accomplishment in itself because it was impossible to drive a vehicle across the waterlogged ground to the sheep paddock at the far side of the Farm. Anyone watching would have been greatly entertained by the sight of the sheep being transported one at a time on a small pull truck, held down to stop them jumping off. Halfway through the process a wheel literally came of the truck and we all collapsed into the mud ! Having got them successfully into their new field and safely tucked up in their sheep shed, we all retired to relieve our aching muscles. As any City farmer will know, manhandling a sheep who does not wish to cooperate , is not for the faint-hearted. Given that early trauma, however, the sheep very quickly settled into their new home, and are now calm and happy and tucking away at their hay rations.
The sheep are a mixture of pure breed and hybrid. There are two pure breed Badger Faced, two Badger Faced x Manx Loughtan, two pure breed Wiltshire Horn, two Black Welsh Mountain X and two Badger Faced X Herdwick X Manx double crossed. This is quite a mixture, but gives a lovely colour range and effect when viewed . They were purchased from a smallholder in Inkberrow in Worcestershire.
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A small but expert group of staff from Wagstaff Interiors Group (based at Honiley in Warwickshire) carried out click for larger image some sorely needed repairs to our Goat, Cow and Sheep sheds on Monday 2nd November 2015. What they packed into half a day was amazing, and all of the sheds enjoyed significant refurbishment with new heavy duty cladding sheets to several sides of the buildings.


No doubt the very early start assisted, together with some careful planning before the day itself, with everyone knowing their part in the logistics of the task. As the work progressed, there was much interest from the livestock themselves, particularly by the Goats, who always manage to stand and supervise very effectively on occasion like this. So..... many thanks to Wagstaff Interiors as a firm, and especially to the employees concerned for their hard work, good company and commitment: Ken, Matt and Daniel.

Allianz is an Insurance and Asset Management Company which operates all over Europe from an H.Q in Munich. When the Company arranged for a Team Day with us on Tuesday. September 29th they not only facilitated two very useful tasks at the Urban Farm, but also showed their keenness to involve as wide a range of their employees in the UK as possible with twelve participants travelling from far and wide in both England and Scotland..


A very competent Team they were too carrying out two discrete tasks with one contingent re-decorating the inside of our Classroom/Party/Meetings Unit and another slabbing a some new areas within one of the paddocks to support new poultry housing. A lot of innate DIY skills were shown because there was hardly a splash of emulsion on the Unit floor - and the perfect plumb level of the slabbing would do a professional landscaper credit . Just shows what a day out from in front of the Computer can bring out ! The initiative was also supported with expenses/donation to our Charity which is much appreciated.


So, very many thanks for a sterling effort by everyone working so hard that day , namely: Niki and Matt from Manchester, Gillian from Glasgow, Sarah and Nick from Surrey, Gareth and Nicola from Bristol, Alex and Sarah from Milton Keynes, Emily from Guildford, Neil from Carlisle, and another Nick from "just up the road " in Rugby! Also thanks to Allianz (GB) for the overall support.

The Challenge Network is a national charity which exists to connect and inspire people of all ages to strengthen their communities within a variety of programmes , and part of the National Citizens Service section is organised specifically to bring together young people from different backgrounds to bond them and inspire them to take on a more active role in their communities. Each Summer groups of youngsters ages around 16/17 years of age are involved in expeditions, fundraising, community work and other activities which seek to fulfill this. For many years now we have been pleased to cooperate with the 'Team Day in the Community' aspect of this annual programme and this year has been as successful as before.


The 2015 team of six young people and their mentor carried out tasks at the Urban Farm on Sunday.......including wheelbarrowing a large quantity of pebbles from a central point to complete a drainage surround area to one of our duck ponds, and also some much needed weeding in the main farmyard area. It was a fine dry day, and the Team not only successfully completed the tasks set out for them but seemed to enjoy themselves in the process. They worked hard, worked well, and there were some laughs along the way.
Very many thanks to each one of them. A photo-shoot of the day is below

One of Santander's aims is to "Making a Difference in the Community" and they certainly did that during their recent visit to the Farm.
A group of twelve employees from one of their financing sections carried out woodland clearance in our wildlife area, and plant- bed weeding in the orchard on what happily turned out to be a fine dry day. Excellent results were achieved, and pathways restored which had grown over quite literally like a tropical jungle.


The Team were drawn from all over Central England and Wales for the day, one travelling from Cardiff in the west and another from the East Midlands in addition to more local employees from the Birmingham Conurbation. It was a sterling effort which has enhanced the Project and is very much appreciated by our Trustees.

So here are many thanks from all our Trustees, visitors and users to: Vijay, Mike, Zena, Rob, Adrian, Kevin, Tony, Steve, Ian, Jen, Bill, and Nigel

Well done Team Santander!

Given that June was a cold and sometimes wet month, we were again fortunate to enjoy good weather for this, our 26th annual Open Day. All week the forecast had been for a cold wind and heavily overcast skies, but the day dawned sunny, dry and quite fair, and remained so all day.We were very grateful!

The entertainment was continuous all day, starting with a two hour session from The Animal Man, when dozens of youngsters got up close and friendly with a range of exotic animals and reptiles , followed by Loony Lenny who provided his unique brand of fun, magic and mayhem, and then Kris Krendo staged his super Punch & Judy Show, followed later with his own comedy and magic show. Andy Casserley was on hand all day in his gazebo stacked with musical instruments (woodwind, string and percussion) to introduce and encourage countless youngsters to create musical sounds for themselves.

There was a greater range of stalls and sideshows this year, and we newly welcomed the Lapal Pioneers who staged a sweet tombola and a catch a duck stall, and The Stonehouse Gang who set up a recruiting and information table. Other stalls included our own Super Tombola with top prizes including a meal out for two, a teddy bear tombola, two bric a brac stalls, John Sturmans Seed and Pet Supplies (Blackheath), Pink Faces (face painting), a Beekeepers stall and demonstration , Reike Master - Kate Jones, Urban Farm plant stall,and new this year - Ken and his hanging basket demonstrations . Ongoing amusement for the kiddies was also available in the form of a Bouncy castle, and there was an all-day ice cream van , together with our own ever popular Refreshment Rooms in the Unit serving home made cakes, sandwiches, crisps and other snacks, and both hot and cold drinks. Two of our Trustees also set up a stall to encourage applications from Volunteers to the Urban Farm Project. Information leaflets were available for Winterbourne House & Garden and also Fircroft College.

We logged well in excess of 1,000 visitors overall who enjoyed the attractions and entertainment on offer. On a rather sad farewell note, Loony Lenny (aka John Price) retires in July and will not be performing again. He has loyally supported our Open Day for almost twenty years and made hundreds of our young visitors laugh over that time. We shall miss his super act and good company, but wish him well in his retirement. Thanks John ! Woody's One Man Band sent apologies because he was unable to attend due to illness, and we wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him next year. Last but by no means least many many thanks to all those who contributed to the staging and content of this Open Day which was financially one of our most successful in terms of our much needed funds. A super effort!

The first team day of the new year welcomed an enthusiastic group of eleven employees, tasked with erecting a pair of new agricultural gates and some extra side fencing at two strategic points of the Farm Project. It was not only the technicalities of hanging the gates themselves, but digging the holes for the posts which can be fraught with all kinds of hidden dangers like suddenly hitting a large rock, or a tree root! And anyone who has done this also knows that it is easier to say "dig a two foot deep hole" than to actually achieve it. Well luck was on our Team's side because, happily, the hole diggings were free from hidden obstacles, and at the end of a day of good dry weather, the tasks were completed without any serious snags. As a result we now have a better managed entry and exit system at the Farm entrance, and have also changed the goat and sheep grazing paddocks access for the better.



Many thanks to the following employees of Npower (Dudley) for their hard work, enthusiasm, and good company: Rebecca (Team leader) , Steve, Kieran, Lewis, Sunny, Gary, Harry, Josh, Michael , Sanj, and Sarah

For the third year running, we enjoyed the good company and energy of a group of ten (6th Form) young people under The Challenge Summer scheme, who carried out some beneficial work for us shifting almost two tons of pebbles to fill in around our duck ponds in the front paddock and they are doing some fundraising for us later in the month. During the holidays, as part of the programme, they had already completed orienteering and camping and other activities. All this will move towards a graduation ceremony and presentation of their Challenge Certificates in due course.
Very many thanks to all concerned, namely : Chloe (Baverstock), Maarij (King Edward VI Five Ways),Husna (South & City College),Ahmed (Metropolitan College), Kashf (King Edward VI Camp Hill Girls), Jack G. (King Edward VI Camp Hill Boys), Michael (Wheelers Lane), Jack A. (Royal Leamington Spa College), Khudar (Cadbury College), and Anika (Metropolitan College) Thanks also to Freya the Mentor who assisted in supervision and guidance on the day. (Photos may follow) (Please visit The Challenge Website for further information on the Programme

We were pleased to receive our three new Dexter heifers on 22nd August 2014 from Church Farm, Preston Bagot, near Henley In Arden. Many thanks to Mr & Mrs Bancroft for supplying us with their livestock. The pedigree Family name for the cows is Moonshine, and their names are : SILVA , MARY and MIKI. The first two are short legged and Miki is a medium legged Dexter.

Dexter cattle are the smallest beef breed in the UK so we have completely turned the size tables from the late Belle, and Fifi, who were Limousin, and are one of the biggest beef cattle breeds ! There are two colours in this breed, brown and black and as can be seen in our picture, ours are pure black. (NB This picture was taken at Preston Bagot before delivery and shows four)
They took time to settle in and skulked about in the hedge right at the top of the paddock for several days. However it did not take them long to realize they were on to a good thing coming to Woodgate instead of going for steaks and are now being cheeky, chasing the volunteers, and enjoying the ample paddock grass which has grown and lush and long since Belle died in the Spring. May they enjoy a long happy life with us.

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We are sad to record that BELLE our (French) Limousin Beef Cow , suddenly went off her legs and died on 13th March 2014. She was in her 25th year, and had outlived her calf FIFI by some six years. The pair came to us at Woodgate from a poor upland farm near Leek in Derbyshire where Belle was being used as a suckling cow for a herd of dairy cattle. For economical reasons she was due to be sold to Market for slaughter along with her calf, before we came along. The rest is a happy history with them both living out their natural lives to the full with us at the Urban Farm and providing many years of interest and enjoyment to visitors, staff and placement alike.