Earlier in the year, Axe Edge Green Farm invited Stockdales to visit our farm. You can find more about the day itself in our July blog article https://axeedge.co.uk/2018/07/27/stockdales-visit/
We have followed it up this letter on 22nd November 2018.
Dear Friends at Stockdales,
We hope you are all well and looking forward to Christmas! We had our first snow in the fields this Wednesday morning, just a light covering but everything looked white and beautiful. I have just checked the Norwegian weather forecasting website (the weather forecast is more accurate than the British forecasts!) and there is no more snow heading our way, not at the moment……!
Agnieszka (“Aga”) and I have been busy preparing for winter. Remember the quad bike Christian was sitting on earlier in the year?
Well, that now has a snow plough attached to the front so we can keep the track clear for visitors. The plough didn’t work very well last year and kept dropping off – I spent more time fixing the plough than moving any snow! So this year it is properly fixed for when the deep snow arrives. This is a photograph from last year when it snowed.
We also have bags of road grit and have fitted winter tyres to our car so that we still collect feed for the animals as well as food for ourselves!
The pigs are now larger than they were in summer when you visited us. Although they keep their arks very warm with their body heat, we have laid lots of straw inside.
This weekend I will be putting plastic flaps on the doors to stop the bitterly cold winter wind from blowing inside. In fact the pigs are very clever – last winter they moved a bale of straw inside their ark in front of the doorway to keep it nice and warm.
Some of the pigs now have new homes in Macclesfield and Leek. Our pigs are a rare breed known as Tamworth and there aren’t many of them left in the country. We sell our pigs to other pig farmers for breeding – to keep the species abundant. We still have Alma at the farm, Gail !!!!!
Last winter we had to move the chicken coop inside the barn which was very difficult as it was so heavy with all the chickens inside. One chicken fell seriously ill and was on the brink of dying. We decided to bring her into our boot room where the boiler is located – it is nice and warm in there. Aga fed our ill hen with a mixture of sugar water and hen feed to bring her back to life again. Within a few days she was out of her cardboard box and pooping all over the place so we knew she was better.
We don’t want any of our animals to suffer so this year we have made a space in the barn just in case it gets too cold for the poultry. We have more chickens now so have created a large warm space for them, the noisy geese and the runner ducks. Thankfully, they all get along very well together.
Remember the polytunnel (the big greenhouse?) Well, that produced lots and lots and LOTS of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers. The vegetable patch also produced lots of carrots and potatoes which have now been harvested and stored in the barn, ready for the winter.
We also went wild berry picking in autumn and collected 5kg of blackberries from the bushes around a local reservoir. Our fingers were well and truly purple and sore by the time we had finished.
Aga has spent weeks making HUNDREDS of jars of pickles, piccalilli, jams, chutney and tomato sauces. The sauces can be used for pizzas, chillies, spaghetti bolognaise and stews.
Here’s a piccie of our larder – there are more jars in our barn, in our loft – they are all over the place!
In the New Year we are planning to get some new animals on the farm…. I would like some bee hives as bees are on the decline in the UK and we do not want to lose them, they are important in nature for pollinating flowers, fruit trees and various other food plants. They are also fascinating creatures and will give us lots of honey! Aga & I would like a rescue donkey, some goats and a few emus.
I made our Christmas cake last night, packed full of fruit, eggs from the chickens and a wee dram or two of Amaretto which helps preserve the cake and make it smell really nice.
My cake will be ready for Christmas Eve when, like most of Europe, we’ll be celebrating Christmas.
Aga is Polish so we celebrate Christmas a day earlier than everyone else in the country which is great for me as it means I have TWO Christmas days!!!
We have also had a delivery of 3 ton of logs (from sustainable sources) for our wood burning stoves. As we are located far away from a big city the main fuels we use are oil (expensive!) and wood.
We believe in being environmentally friendly and have planted approximately 200 bushes and trees throughout 2018 to offset our use of wood. In the long term we will use our own trees as our sustainable source of fire wood but we will always replenish the wood we take by planting more saplings – we will grow more than we will use!
Our 3 doggies, Holly, Coco and Goldie are all well as are our cats, Rysia, Pumpkin and Scruffles. The cats aren’t in the photo as they are busy scaring away all the mice, voles and shrews. They also keep the rabbits from eating our plants in the vegetable patch.
The doggies? Well they still enjoy running around in the fields, eating, sleeping and keeping us nice and warm when we all cuddle up on the sofa either reading or watching TV. On this photo, Aga has just said the word “sausage” – that word, and “walkies” always gets their attention!
We hope you all have a lovely Christmas and have lots of great things to look forward to in the New Year.
Lots of love,
Agnieszka & Ian xxxx