2016 at incredible farm
2016 has been a transformative year at the farm, so much has happened and we enter 2017 with a stronger sense of direction, and a stack of achievements that set the scene for a bright future.
Unquestionably the most positive outside force this year has come from our WWOOF’ers. We have hosted 28 energetic, positive and passionate young people through the year, with an average stay of a month each, this has had a massive impact. We KNOW we have changed lives, many of those people will never be the same. It is, perhaps, one way we in which we change the world, through these people, who will propagate positivity, initiative, respect for nature home grown food, hard work and fun.
From within our team, Mike’s energy, enthusiasm and coolness in the face of chaos has been key to the progress we have made. He has seamlessly organised the workforce, got the growing into even better shape than before. He has constantly researched and tried out new growing methods. He has lead countless activities in the woods and up the hillsides with groups of children, chatted to farm shop customers and given so many tours to interested passers by at the drop of a hat. In his quiet and unassuming way Mike is the best possible ambassador for the farm, his personal ethic is the farm ethic, he leads us to better things.
Back last January the wettest winter since Noah lead to us deciding to buy a marque for the forest area near the cow barn behind the farm, as we put it together it dawned on us that there were more uses for it that hay storage. It looked like a venue. 10 months on we have had many happenings there, with campfires almost every day rain or shine. We built a kitchen and put in a sink and WWOOFer Ben built a compost toilet. A Tawny Owl family roosted above in the spring.
Custards calf came right on time in April, an amazing experience, we built a milking station and equipped a dairy shed for the milk, all in the woods next to the marque, and we learned to milk. Custard kicked when we got it wrong, but forgave us and together it became easy, and routine. The simple suction based milking machine we had bought worked, up to a point, and we gradually developed it into a reliable solar power compatible tool that makes the process easy and clean.
Helena then, WWOOFer Skeleren taught themselves to make cheese with the abundant beautiful milk whilst Emma spent lots of time with Inky the calf and halter trained her. Thorsen, a French intern, arrived in February just in time for a permaculture design weekend and began to make himself an invaluable member of the team, his lov, humour & intelligence shaped the summer.
Bhram lead the hay wain, scyther and haymaker in chief, followed by a Mexican lawyer and a dentistry student, together they built our first ever haystack. Would the cows eat it?
Some time in early spring the movie Demain reached a cinema audience of 1 million, astounding for a documentary. Incredible farm takes a pivotal role in the movie, schoolchildren across Europe are seeing positive alternative futures portrayed. There IS hope, there CAN be a future in the face of all our global problems. Distribution in the US and UK has still not materialised. It seems, for us, optimism is off the menu, not marketable.
WWOOFers Pierick and Thorsen build a nice big pig pen, after Railtrack levelled our old manure heap and scraped the road clean, deals can be done without money!
As the summer unfolded Ben worked on the compost toilet in the woods , learned to grow and taught himself movie making skills. Along with Fern a delightful bread baking Thai student at Leeds Uni, they made a suite of short beautiful movies. Later on Josh made us a nice movie for our crowdfund.
Millie who had come to us as a WWOOFer the previous summer, and stayed to be our assistant manager, finally departed. The price of meeting such lovely people is the sadness of their departure.
The team made Farm hats and sold crepes to the masses in Tod’ and Hebden bridge, Emma wrote down vocab, and jumped in the sea on a business trip to Liverpool, mistaking an Iron Man for a flasher. Christine Leung, and Cate Murphy in Liverpool doggedly pursued community farming projects we will be consultants to and, finally the first IS happening.
Julie joins as admin person, part paid, part Volly’, and working with Robin we now have real, accurate, up to date accounts and books for the first time in years, it’s a marvel!
Ruth has a go at getting a group of home educators on the farm, it’s a storming success, one one day 70 people in the woods having a fantastic, free play, time. It continues, even deep in the winter we have new families joining in, forest school plus farm, plus landscape are some combination!
Two schools book once a week visits for the autumn term, mike uses his Junior farmers experience and forest schools training to great effect. WWOOFer Rachael joins us for a month in autumn and leaves to take a teaching assistant job she landed whilst enjoying the uplift that farm life gave her.
The fruit trees produce a real bounty of apples of plums for the first time, and we devise a simple solar drier, apple slices for the winter months. Along with cider and vinegar. Delights to come.
Kathryn comes from Canada via Iceland, trains Rhubarb to do tricks and gets sooo excited over making butter using our home made smoothy bike. Nick nips off to Donegal to retrieve camper van, wife and help the team finish grandpas thatched cottage conservatory roof. Incredible farm by the sea had been born & cottage saved, driven by Helena’s cooking skills, some borrowed WWOOFers and more of her very own.
The winter draws in, caravans get wood stoves, rugged winter hardy winter woofers are recruited, Rob finishes his apprenticeship, Stattler and Whardorf get fat entirely fed on “proper” pig food and nothing else. The cows gobble their home made hay.
Brioche the Dexter bull does a fine job with both Rhubarb and custard and the patter of tiny hooves is predicted for June.
Tawny Owls think the same way; their spring roost in the woods high above the children, awaits.