Sunday, 12 March 2017

Spring Sunday at Lower Shaw Farm

Spring Sunday at LSF

The sheep are out on the front paddock, for the first time this year, and old as they may be, they are still full of the joys of spring. Daisy even did  a short burst of lamb-like frolicking and gambolling.  

And in the incubator in the Dairy, ducklings are hatching, cute as ever and ready to steal the show at the LitFest programme launch next week.

As for daffodils, they are everywhere, gorgeous and golden, clustered in the garden, lined up along stone walls, and in proverbial hosts by hedgerows.

And Andrea is spring cleaning!

But, rather missing out on the outside joys of spring, are the hens and ducks, who remain incarcerated, to protect them from the perils of bird flu. Amazingly, they are laying better than ever!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Pig Shenanigans and a Solitary Breakfast

LSF Blog Sunday 5th February ‘17

According to certain philosophers, psychologists, and Will Self, in the end, and possibly even all the way, we are all alone but maybe never so alone, especially if unaccustomed to it, as when home alone.

The main workforce of LSF (guess who . . )  has taken itself off to the wild coastlines of Cornwall (see pic) to celebrate a significant birthday, leaving yours truly to fend for himself, and today, a tad disgruntled, temporarily one hopes.

You see, during early-morning animal duties, the pigs locked themselves in and when their kindly carer let them out to a fabulous full breakfast, of exotic imported out of date fruit and vegetables, they thanked him by snouting his clean trousers, pushing their bristles against him, and slobbering on his shoes.. Grrr.

Then, at his own solitary breakfast, the butter was hard, more brittle than smooth; the bread was crumbly; the Marmite jar was empty; and the marmalade had too many bits of peel in it.

And next, news came in that Maggie Roche, one third of the brilliant trio of singing sisters, The Roches (if you don’t know them, try Hammond Song, here  ) had died, so, in the LSF office, it was be a listen-to-The Roches-on-youtube day.

And suddenly, the day has got better as Caravan Alley crew offer to cook a roast dinner, for supper!

Life is for lamenting, listening, and roast dinners, at Lower Shaw Farm

Monday, 30 January 2017

Sunday 29th January

This weekend, we hosted a lovely group, new to LSF, on a meditation retreat.

They were a serene and appreciative presence and showed great respect and understanding for LSF and the way we try to do things here.

They took an hour out each day to help with tasks around the farm but we were too busy looking after them to take an hour out to do some official bird-watching for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, which was earmarked for today.

A pity, because the farm is amazingly-full of feathered friends: in the garden, on the feeders, and in the trees.

It’s amazing, birds flitting about everywhere and chirruping all round the farm, as if spring had already sprung but before the first snowdrop has appeared.

Bizarre but uplifting and beautiful.

Right now, life is for birds and beauty at Lower Shaw Farm.

Although we also feel the pressure of plenty of less uplifting prosaic problems, like leaking shed roofs, a shortage of hay, the plight of locked up hens, and authors being slow in deciding whether or not they want to come to this year’s Swindon Festival of Literature.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Oh what a beautiful Sunday morning: bright, breezeless, and frosty.
Never was the sky so blue, streaked east to west with jet trails, from seemingly-small silent planes either flying to or away from the USA . . .
And we have a Bread Making course about to begin; and the CALM (Children’s Cancer And Leukaemia Movement) families due mid morning . . . but the Centre’s cold and the water pipes are frozen.
We have to get busy, and do.
By midday, the kitchen is womb-warm and dough is mixed, kneaded, and rising, and the circle of aproned apprentice-bakers are flour-flecked and happy; and the CALM children are happy too, helping carry kettles of water to the frozen Centre.
Life is for helping at Lower Shaw Farm.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Now big, independent, and international, LSF-bred offspring Anna, Jacob, and Rosa delayed their departures for Beirut, Bristol, and Bali to make sure they here for their father’s biggish birthday on 12th January.

In fact, they were instrumental in celebrations, cooking, serving cocktails, and trying to control their pa’s perpetual patter. 

He was very happy, with a champagne breakfast, lunch, and supper, and the appearance at LSF of some pretty fine people throughout the day.

By the weekend, visitors, youngsters, and birthday frocks were gone and the older folk were back in wellies and working clothes, running a Wwoof weekend, that saw us, damp but undaunted, pruning apple trees, carting wood chips, and fixing a leaking hen house roof.

Looks like life is for working at LSF, whatever our age!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Sunday 8th January 2017

A week into the new year, and the hens and ducks are still locked up.

And, ironically, part of their roof has blown off, offering them a bit of fresh air, sunshine, and rain.

Their plight has made the regional press, with usual quota of journalistic errors.  See

Blissfully unaware of a flu epidemic, wild birds hereabouts are much happier than the incarcerated domestics ones. Today, a little flock of four fabulously-feathered Goldfinches clung on to the wire birdfeeder, prising out Niger seeds with their pointy beaks.

And on the other side of the house, a bright-beaked blackbird tried to mate, or do something pretty passionate, with its own reflection in a dirty old mirror by the compost loo. Could it be the same bright blackbird that swoops down to nick scraps of food the very moment it’s been thrown out to the pigs?

Our Newsletter looking back at 2016 and our hardcopy programme looking forward to 2017 are both back from the printers and will be stuffed into envelopes this week and sent out to those of you who are on the mailing list.

You will also be able to see both on our website shortly.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Sunday 1st January 2017

Happy New Year dear reader!

Today, at Lower Shaw farm, it rained, and rained, and rained, despite which, for the first time in living memory, there is no water in the duck pond.

We are puzzled. By this time, midwinter, it is normally full. What’s going on?

And it’s a strange first day of the year, with so much rain, and us being out in it, walking and running (parkrun) but the animals all under cover, the hens locked up in the hen house because of Bird Flu (DEFRA’s orders) and the pigs in their neat beds of straw because their pen is a mud bath.  

We have a lovely group of winter walkers here, who celebrated the passing of the old year and arrival of the new one with walks in the day time and games, puzzles, and songs in the evening, plus saunas, and plenty of good food too.

This afternoon, we saw a buzzard, in the trees behind the sheep pen.