Woodlands Farm Summer Show and Mid Summer Hay Meadow Walk

Woodlands Farm Summer Show 2017 poster

Woodlands Farm‘s annual Summer Show is next Sunday, 11th June, between 11.00am and 4.30pm, and entry is free. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

The Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show is on Sunday 11th June from 11:00am-4:30 pm.
All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show. Come and meet our animals and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey.  Relax in our café to live music by The Short ‘n Curlies, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts.  Entry is free, donations are always welcome. All proceeds go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community. There is no parking on the farm, please use public transport.
The Woodlands Farm‘s Summer Show is combined with Open Farm Sunday again this year, so it will include farming related demonstrations such as sheep shearing and rural crafts.

Open Farm Sunday is the farming industry’s annual open day, and hundreds of farms across the country will be open to the public. Open farms are listed on  Open Farm Sunday‘s website. The event is organised by the LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) charity.

The farm is a registered charity and relies on events such as the Summer Show to raise funds to continue to operate. It’s their 20th anniversary this year, the farm trust was founded in 1997, so a good time to show your support.

Bantam at Woodlands Farm
Bantam at Woodlands Farm
Bantam at Woodlands Farm
Bantam at Woodlands Farm

A couple of weeks after the Summer Show the farm host the latest of their regular series of guided walks, the Mid-Summer Hay Meadow Walk. Hannah sent details:

Mid Summer Hay Meadow Walk
Sunday 25th June, 10am
Join us for a leisurely stroll through our Hay Meadows. In June the meadows are full of wild flowers and an array of different types of grasses. Find out how we manage these hay meadows throughout the year and about some of the lovely plants you will find there. The walk will start at 10am, meeting at the Green Building in the Farm yard. This event is free, although as a charity we do appreciate donations. Unfortunately, this walk is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
For more information, see our website or email admin@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

The Farm manages the grass in their fields either by grazing with their cows and sheep or by cutting hay with tractors and mowers in mid-summer and they don’t use any fertilizers or herbicides on the farm.  This type of management enables the wild flowers and grasses to produce their seed ready to grow again next year, resulting in a large diversity of flowers, grasses and sedges in the fields and meadows, which in turn supports many species of insects. The Farm is part of  Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme which  encourages farmers to manage their land sensitively, to benefit wildlife and the local environment. This walk is a good chance to learn more about the meadows and how they are managed, and enjoy some beautiful countryside.

Woodlands Farm Meadow
Woodlands Farm Meadow
Woodlands Farm Wild Flower Meadow
Woodlands Farm Wild Flower Meadow

Barn Dances and Bee Walks at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Barn Dances Poster 2017

There’s a chance to don your gingham, denim and Stetsons, grab your partner and dosey-doe at  Woodlands Farm Barn Dances on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July.  No skill or experience in barn dancing is required, and usually little is demonstrated at the dance: the steps and sequences are all called out by the band, the excellent Skinner’s Rats.  Hannah from the farm e-mailed the details:

Woodlands Farm Barn Dances
Come along to one of the Woodlands Farm Summer barn dances, taking place in a real farm barn!  With music and calling provided by Skinners Rats the barn dance is guaranteed to be a fun evening.   Bring along your own food, drink and glasses and dine on hay bales to complete the rustic evening.  The barn dances are taking place on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July from 7.30pm – 11pm.  Tickets are £14.  To book visit our website www.thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org
For more information, see our website or contact The Woodlands Farm office on 020 8319 8900.

Barn dance at Woodlands Farm
Barn dance at Woodlands Farm

The ecological surveys at the farm continue this week with May’s monthly bee walk this Thursday, 18th May, meeting at 2pm at the farm office near the scarecrows. At least seven different types of bee were spotted on last month’s walk: a white tailed bumblebee; garden bumblebee; field cuckoo bumblebee; common carder bee; honey bee; buff tailed bumblebee and a hairy footed flower bee, plus some others that were too quick to accurately identify. Contact Hannah on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org for more details.

Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm
Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm
Buff-tailed Bumble bee at Woodlands Farm
Buff-tailed Bumble bee at Woodlands Farm
Bee at Woodlands Farm
Bee at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day, Easter activities and ecological surveys

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day 2017

It’s a busy time at Woodlands Farm, with the lambing season in full swing and the lambing trained volunteers on a rota to support the ewes. This leads up to the Lambing Day fair on 9th April, Easter Holiday children’s activities and the start of the surveys of the farm’s flora and fauna.

Some 38 of the farm’s 70 pregnant ewes have given birth so far, and there seem to be more triplets this year. The first to lamb were the recently arrived, rare breed Manx Loaghtan which have striking black lambs, now old enough to be gambolling in the fields. The newly born lambs will be on display at the farm’s annual Lambing Day fair on Sunday 9th April from 11am to 4pm, entrance price £2 for adults £1 for children.  The fair will also have the usual stalls, country crafts, children’s activities and café and barbecue.

New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm

The week after Lambing Day the farm will host its Easter Holiday events for children. Hannah, the Education Officer, wrote with details:

Easter Holiday Events
Tuesday 11th April  Mad Hatters Tea Party  10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm
The second in our series of events to celebrate 20 years of the Woodlands Farm Trust.  Come along to our Mad Hatters Tea Party, dress up and join our celebrations as we make fun hats and prepare some food to start the party!  £4 per child.  Booking is essential, to book call 0208 319 8900.  Don’t be late for a very important date!
Wednesday 12th April    Marvellous Minibeasts 10am-12noon or 1pm-3pm
Do you love creepy crawlies and bugs?  Join us as we find out all about minibeasts.  We will be doing a craft as well as using magnifying glasses to see what we can find in the woods.   £4 per child.  Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.  This walk is not suitable for buggies.
Thursday 13th April   Egg-cellent Easter Trail    Any time between 10am and 2pm
Join us for our annual Easter Trail.  Can you find all the different Easter Eggs and Spring Animals hidden around the farmyard? Find them all and you will get your own Chocolate Easter egg to take home.  Drop in any time between 10am and 2pm.  £2 per child
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

Hannah is also the person to contact if you are interested in helping with the comprehensive set of surveys of the wildlife and plants at the farm. They start with the monthly bee walks to record the numbers and types of bumble bees, the next one of which is on Wednesday 19th April, then there is the first of the pond surveys, mainly looking for amphibians, on Thursday 27th April. Later surveys will include wild flowers, hedgerows, butterflies, moths, mammals and bats.

With luck, there’ll be some corky fruited water dropworts again.

New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lambs at Woodlands Farm
New lambs at Woodlands Farm

Apple Day and October events at Woodlands Farm

Apple Day 2016 Poster

Apple Day, mammal surveys, bumble bee walks, new rare breed sheep and half term activities for children: busy times as usual at Woodlands Farm. The farm’s annual celebration of autumn fruitfulness, Apple Day, is next weekend on Sunday 16th October between 11am and 4pm. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

Apple Day
Join us for a celebration of traditional British apples at Woodlands Farm, 331 Shooters Hill, DA16 3RP, on Sunday 16th October 2016, from 11am-4pm. Discover and buy many different types of traditional British apples. There will be a variety of activities including a treasure hunt, apple pressing to make delicious juice, stalls selling local produce, including our own honey and home-made jams, cakes and try some Kentish Cider. A great day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are welcome and go towards the running of the Farm. No parking on site. Please use public transport.

I’m looking forward to trying some of the less common English apple varieties, such as Pitmaston Pineapples perhaps, and to stocking up on my favourite Egremont Russets. Maureen also sent me the photo below from a previous Apple Day.

Apple Day at Woodlands Farm
Apple Day at Woodlands Farm

The farm has continued its surveys of the local flora and fauna through the summer, including bat surveys, wild flower surveys, bumble bee surveys and mammal surveys. The next mammal survey is this week: the Longworth traps will be set out on Tuesday afternoon, starting at 3pm, and collected the following morning, Wednesday 12th October,  at 9am. This year’s mammal surveys have been pretty fruitful, with wood mice, bank voles and common shrew found. On the most productive survey 10 out of the 15 traps deployed had something in.

The bumble bee walk is held each month, the next one is this Thursday, 13th October starting at 2.00pm. Anyone interested in helping out with these surveys should contact Hannah Ricketts, the Farm’s Education Officer on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

 

Wood Mouse caught in Woodlands Farm's Mammal Survey
Wood Mouse caught in Woodlands Farm’s Mammal Survey

Hannah also runs the half term activities for children at the farm, and sent me details of those running this month:

October Half term activities for children
Wednesday 26th October – Make an insect hotel
1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm, 2.30pm.  £4 per child
Come along and make an insect hotel for your garden.  This will be a fabulous place for the insects to hibernate during the winter.  Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900
Thursday 27th October- Autumn Art Day
1-3pm, £2 per child
Drop in for a fun afternoon of autumnal art!  Get crafty with leaves, paint or whatever you fancy!  As well as the rest of the art activities, there will also be a limited number of items to decorate for an additional £2.  No need to book, just drop in.
Friday 28th October – Halloween trail and craft
11am-3pm  £3 per child
Drop in to join the fun as you go on a Halloween trail round the farmyard as well as having the chance to make your own spooky craft to take home.  Why not dress up as well to make the day an even creepier day out!  No need to book, just drop in.

The farm’s new sheep are from a rare breed called Manx Loaghtan, which originate in the Isle of Man. They are characterised by brown wool and can have up to six horns, though the ewes at the farm only have two each.

Manx Loaghtan at Woodlands Farm
Manx Loaghtan sheep at Woodlands Farm
Manx Loaghtan sheep at Woodlands Farm
Manx Loaghtan sheep at Woodlands Farm

National Meadows Day at Woodlands Farm

National Meadows Day at Woodlands Farm

There’s another chance to take a guided tour of Woodlands Farm‘s hay meadows this Saturday, 2nd July, when the farm are taking part in National Meadows Day. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

As part of National Meadows Day there will be a guided tour of the stunning hay meadows at Woodlands Farm. The farm has almost 30 acres of traditionally managed hay meadows bursting with wild flowers, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and other wildlife at this time of year.
The meadows are managed as part of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.
The walk will be for about 2 hours on Saturday 2nd July 2016 and will start in the farmyard at Woodlands Farm at 1.30pm. If you like meadows and flowers this is the walk for you.

This is the second year that National Meadows Day has taken place: it is planned  to hold it each year on the first Saturday in July, when the country’s wildflower meadows are at their best. It is organised by a number of organisations led by Plantlife, a wild plant conservation charity. There are about 100 events taking place across the UK including guided walks, open days with family activities, kids craft days, scything activities and photography walks. They are also holding a National Meadows Photography Competition with a deadline for entries of 31st August 2016.

Ragwort at Woodlands Farm
Ragwort at Woodlands Farm
Teasel at Woodlands Farm
Teasel at Woodlands Farm

Mid-summer hay meadow walk at Woodlands Farm

Midsummer hay meadow walk poster

The traditional hay meadows, with their many and varied wild flowers, are one of the wonders of Woodlands Farm and there’s an opportunity to see them at their best on Sunday (19th June) when the farm hold the latest of their monthly walks. Maureen from the farm wrote with details of the mid-summer hay meadow walk which starts at 10.00am:

Join us at Woodlands Farm for a two-hour leisurely stroll around our traditional hay meadows. The meadows are at their best at this time of the year, bursting with wild flowers, bees, butterflies and all manner of wildlife. The walk will be led by a Woodlands Farm volunteer pointing out many of the interesting plants and animals in these traditionally managed hay fields. The walk includes climbing a small stile and is not suitable for buggies. Meet in the green Education Building at 10am.
So pull on those boots and come along with us on this unmissable walk.
Free activity – donations welcome!

For an even closer view of the meadows join the farm’s enthusiastic conservation volunteers on Thursday 30th June at 2 o’clock for the meadow plant survey, when you’ll find them in the meadows surrounded by plant guides examining the wild flowers and grasses. This is one of a series of surveys in the next couple of months, Hannah recently sent round the full  list:

Wednesday 15th June, 3pm –  Survey of the wildlife pond
Wednesday 22nd June, 2.30pm – Bumblebee Walk
Thursday 30th June, 2pm – Meadow plants survey
Friday 1st July, time to be confirmed – Bat survey
Monday 18th July, time to be confirmed – Bat Survey
Wednesday 20th July, 10.30am – Butterfly survey
Wednesday 27th July, 2pm – Bumblebee walk

The weather forecast for Sunday is currently “dry with sunny spells” – perfect for a wildflower meadow walk.

Wild flower meadow at Woodlands Farm, looking towards the golf course and water tower
Wild flower meadow at Woodlands Farm

 

Wild flower meadows at Woodlands Farm
Wild flower meadows at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Summer Show and half-term activities for children

Woodlands Farm Summer Show 2016 poster

 

Woodlands Farm‘s Summer Show is combined with Open Farm Sunday again this year, so it will include farming related demonstrations such as sheep shearing, hedge-laying tools and a bodger as well as the usual stalls and children’s activities. It takes place on Sunday 5th June between 11.00am and 4.30pm. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show on Sunday 5 June 2016, 11am-4.30pm. Come and meet our animals, and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey.  Relax in our café, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts.  Entry is free but donations are always welcome.  All proceeds go towards caring for our animals.  A great family day out!

Open Farm Sunday is the farming industry’s annual open day, and hundreds of farms across the country will be open to the public. Open farms are listed on  Open Farm Sunday‘s website. The event is organised by the LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) charity.

 

Sheep Shearing at Woodlands Farm
Sheep Shearing at Woodlands Farm

In the week before the Summer Show, the farm have their half term activities for children. Hannah, the farm’s Education Officer, sent details of these:

Half Term Activities
Wednesday 1st June — Dream Catchers £2 per child
Do you love having a good dream? Traditionally dreamcatchers were believed to trap your bad dreams but allow your good dreams through. So come and join us at Woodlands Farm as we make dream catchers using willow and other natural materials.  This is a drop in session. No need to book.
Thursday 2nd June — Pond Dipping
What is hiding beneath the surface of the pond, join us to find out.  All equipment provided.  Sessions at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm
£1 per child    Booking essential, call 020 8319 8900
Friday 3rd June — Brilliant Bees 11am-3pm    £2 per child
Join us for a day of bee-related fun and activities. Go on our ‘Bee-scene’ trail to see if you can spot bees and the plants which are so important for their survival. Learn about the Farm’s own  honey bee hives and do a craft to take home.
Have a go at candle rolling (£1.50 extra).  No need to book just drop in.

There may also be a chance to see the new piglets recently born to the farm’s Gloucester Old Spot pig, Rosie. They are a cross between Rosie and a Saddleback pig and have an interesting mix of markings.

Rosie, the Gloucester Old Spot pig, at Woodlands Farm
Rosie, the Gloucester Old Spot pig, at Woodlands Farm
Rosie's new litter
Rosie’s new litter

Beekeeping Talk at Severndroog Castle

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle

There’s a chance to learn more about bee-keeping this Thursday, 26th May, when Severndroog Castle hold an illustrated talk on the subject presented by John Large of the Oxleas Wood Apiary. Stephen sent me details:

ILLUSTRATED TALK on HONEYBEE KEEPING IN OXLEAS WOODS from Oxleas Wood Honeybee Apiary.
7:00PM THURSDAY 26MAY 2016
£3.50 per visitor includes access to the viewing platform
Jars of Honey are the on supermarket shelves, local honey can be found on sale at markets or by the side of the road. Honey comes from the bees we see flitting from flower to flower but does every type of bee make honey?
How does honey differ from place to place?
Is honey made throughout the year?
How is it collected?
Now is the chance to discover the answers to these questions and many more.
John Large, the Oxleas Wood Apiary apiarist, will be at Severndroog Castle to introduce the art and mystery of beekeeping, together with some of the known facts and science of A. Mellifera. He will venture into some of the remaining mysteries about the anatomy of the individual bee and social behaviour of the bee colony, including the gaps in our knowledge and the enigmatic and sometimes perplexing traits of bee behaviour that persist  for several thousands of years since man first endeavoured to domesticate these fascinating creatures.
Weather and seasonal development permitting, John Large will bring along an observation hive stocked with bees, so that the wonderful world of the honeybee can be witnessed at first-hand. The fully illustrated presentation will include a question and answer session and, perhaps, close with a sweetener to those participating.
Tickets will be available on the door but if you wish to book in advance click on the link below. Please note when booking via Eventbrite there will be a booking fee.
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bee-keeping–tickets-24844043202

Sounds fascinating, and with the added bonus of a twilight view from the top of the castle!

 

The hives of Oxleas Apiary
The hives of Oxleas Apiary

Bluebell Walk on Sunday May 1st

Bluebell Walk Poster 2016

Our local woodlands are awash with bluebells and other wild flowers: it’s the perfect time for a walk in the woods, and there’s a great opportunity this Sunday, 1st May, when Woodlands Farm have organised a guided walk through the woods from Severndroog Castle to Woodlands Farm starting at 2.00pm.

Hannah Ricketts, the farm’s education officer, wrote with details:

Bluebell Walk
View the delights of springtime bluebells with this guided walk through Oxleas Wood and Woodlands Farm. Starting at Severndroog castle this walk will meander through Oxleas Wood taking in the signs of spring as well as a chance to find out more about the history of the woodland, it will end at Woodlands Farm with a trip up to Clothworkers Wood if you still have the energy to enjoy the farm’s display of bluebells. This walk is free, donations are welcome. For more information call 020 8319 8900.

This is more than just a chance to admire Oxleas’ and Woodlands’ bluebells. Previous bluebell walks have revealed some of the woods’ hidden treasures, such as the Redwood trees planted by the London County Council  in the middle of our native woodlands, not to mention native plants that are indicators of ancient woodland, such as the Wild Service Tree and  Butchers Broom – species that would be threatened if a road was ever built through the woods.  One year we heard about the historic cants of coppiced Hazels and Chestnuts deep in the wood and their place in medieval life. This walk is very educational and very highly recommended.

You can see photographs of the plants and wild flowers of Oxleas Woods in a Flickr album here.

Bluebells in Oxleas Wood
Bluebells in Oxleas Wood
Bluebells and Wood Anemones in Lesness Abbey Woods
Bluebells and Wood Anemones in Lesness Abbey Woods

 

Birds, Bees, Barn Dances and Lambing Day at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day 2016 Poster

Upcoming events at Woodlands Farm include their annual Lambing Day fair, two barn dances, the first of the season’s wildlife surveys, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust‘s bee walk,  and an early spring bird walk.

Maureen wrote with information about Lambing Day:

Lambing Day at Woodlands Farm, Sunday 10 April 2016, 11:00am-4.30pm
All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Lambing Day. Come and see our new-born lambs, and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey.  Relax in our café, enjoy the treasure hunt or get involved in craft activities. Entry is free, but donations are always welcome. All proceeds from donations and our stalls go towards keeping Woodlands Farm here as a conservation project and valuable resource for the community. A great family day out!
No parking, please use public transport. Sorry, no dogs allowed.

There seem to have been more new lambs than ever this year. Most are now out in the fields, demonstrating their skills in exuberant bouncing with all four feet in the air, or joining in a mass race across the meadows.

New lambs racing across Woodlands Farm's fields
New lambs racing across Woodlands Farm’s fields
One of Woodlands Farm's new lambs
One of Woodlands Farm’s new lambs

There will be two traditional barn dances this year, on Saturday 28th May and Saturday 9th July, both starting at 7.30pm. Skinners Rats will be providing live country music and will be calling the steps. We’ll need to bring our own food, drink and glasses.
Tickets are £14 (including VAT and booking fee) – booking is via eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/barn-dance-tickets-21713716310

Honey Bee at Woodlands Farm
Honey Bee at Woodlands Farm

The first Bumblebee Survey is this Monday, 21st March at 2.00pm. The Farm’s Education Officer, Hannah, wrote with details:

We have signed up to take part in the Bumblebee Conservation Trust bee walk this year.  This will involve doing a walk round the farm once a month on a set route and recording any bumblebees we see.  This is every month from March to October, so should keep us busy!  Anyway the first one will be on Monday at 2pm.  We will meet in the Farmyard and will use this time to both map the route and record any sightings, not sure if we will see much if still chilly but hopefully be a nice walk anyway and good to plan route for the rest of the year!

The Early Spring Bird Walk is on Sunday 3rd April starting at 10.00am. It is free to farm members, but for non-members costs £2 per person or £1 for children under 18. We are advised to wear sturdy footwear and suitable outdoor clothing. The walks includes climbing a small stile.
Lots to see and do down at Woodlands Farm. And don’t forget the Spring Equinox Walk tomorrow, Sunday, at 10.00am.

Long-tailed Tit at Woodlands Farm
Long-tailed Tit at Woodlands Farm