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Partner News: Downham Care Farm

Filed in Uncategorized by on May 10, 2012 0 Comments

Downham Cottage Care Farm welcomed our first Lapwing students in 2011. The two Ashley’s were quickly introduced to another Ashley!.our resident Berkshire Rare Breed boar!! Although a little confusing at times we do generally know who we are talking to, or about.

The first few weeks were spent with the lads getting to grips with the daily routines on the farm that include:

  • Cleaning out the small animals
  • Feeding and water for small animals
  • Poo picking the horses field
  • Cleaning out the chickens
  • Cleaning out the goats
  • Mucking out the stables
  • Strawing up the pig arks
  • Feeding and giving water to all of the aforementioned animals

During their time with us they have also undertaken a variety of other tasks. These have included:

  • Fencing
  • Grooming the horses
  • Lawnmower maintenance
  • Helping administer medication to sick chickens
  • Hedge planting
  • Bramble clearance
  • Ditch maintenance
  • Constructing raised vegetable beds
  • Collecting feed for the animals
  • Assisting with the animals at a neighbouring property
  • Coppicing hazel
  • General hedge maintenance
  • Helping to construct the new drive and parking area, including spreading 10 tonnes of pea shingle!!
  • Moving pigs
  • Building animal pens/housing and runs

Both young men have proven themselves to be willing workers, never frightened to get stuck in and try everything.

Ashley Mower, what can I say!!..he is unmissable in his bright orange overalls!! By his own admission he really enjoys the mechanical side of things more so than the animals. However, he has now got to grips with cleaning out the chickens properly!.the first few times he did this task it was difficult to find the chickens as there was so much straw in their house! Ashley Mower is a really likeable young man who is full of enthusiasm and when this is harnessed is a pleasure to work with. On occasions he still needs to ask for clarification and advice!.he is getting better at doing this having in the past failed to complete tasks as he has misunderstood what is required.

Ashley B is a dedicated and conscientious worker. His motto is, “if a jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. His attention to detail is second to none and he has a natural ability when it comes to using any tool. He has grown in confidence tremendously since coming to the farm and this is reflected in the way he interacts with everyone he comes into contact with here. No job is ever too much for Ashley and during his time here he has persevered with tasks that others have given up on. He really is an asset to have on the farm!

It’s not all been hard work though!..we have had many laughs along the way. It was especially good to see the lads letting their hair down when it snowed!..not that they instigated the snowball ball fight, I hasten to add. That was my doing! What impressed me most was that although we had great fun for the last 10 minutes of the day, both lads knew when to stop.

The other really funny incident that springs to mind was last week!!we’d had so much rain the pig run was literally knee deep in mud. Ash B had been helping me fix the pig house and we were just making our way back through the mud when he got stuck fast. Try as he might he couldn’t free his boots from the sticky clay and ended up in the mud in his bare feet. It took Tracy and Ashley Mower to free him and get his boots back. Unfortunately, I was unable to help!!.someone had to capture it on camera!!

Both lads finish their programme at the Care Farm in July. We will all be sad to see them leave but wish them both well for the future. We hope to see Ash B return perhaps a couple of days a week as a volunteer. In time we are hoping that this will lead to paid employment for him.

I can’t finish without mentioning the support worker that attends with the Lapwing students. Tracy has been a pleasure to work alongside, making us laugh and cry in equal measure. Not to mention the fact that she actually enjoys mucking out the stables!! On a serious note, she has a real passion for her work with both of the Ashley’s and deals with them both incredibly sensitively, whilst being totally honest, firm but fair.

It is safe to say I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with the Lapwing students and staff and look forward to working with more of their students in the future.

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