Spring 2018 news from Oakbrook Farm, Stroud

Esme the cow and her calf at foot Rocket
Stroud Micro Dairy: Esme the cow with her calf Rocket whom she cared for until Rocket was soft-weened at three months. Rocket is now a strong and spirited 13-month-old yearling.

Secured by the Biodynamic Land Trust in 2015 into community ownership, the 41-acre Oakbrook Farm is tenanted by Stroud Community Agriculture, and Stroud Micro Dairy, and set to be joined by Ellie’s Eggs. Location: Near gates to Hawkwood College on Wick Street, Painswick Old Road, Gloucestershire GL6 7QW

Click for spring 2018 news
Stroud Micro Dairy
Chickens arriving at Oakbrook Farm
Starter Farm back in action
18 April, Biodynamic farm spray day

Stroud Micro Dairy

Biodynamic Land Trust farm tenant, Stroud Micro Dairy has gone from strength-to-strength since it opened for business on 13 March 2017 selling fresh raw milk direct from its cows at Oakbrook Farm.

To pick up your share of the fresh milk, yogurt and kefir, please contact Stroud Micro Dairy.

The team at Stroud Micro Dairy says:

“Three of our cows gave birth and the two of the calves are Hereford crosses. The likely father is Fergus, the Stroud Community Agriculture (SCA) bull. We are one of the few UK dairies to practice ‘calf-at-foot dairying’: we let the cows rear the calves. So the calves will be staying with us for the time being and are already a source of great amusement, and occasional worry when they play hide and seek in the cabbages.

We have also purchased a pretty Jersey cow from a retiring Somerset farmer. Our milk production is therefore on the rise and we are starting to take on new members.  Anyone who wants to buy a bottle to try our delicious milk is welcome to ring us on 07594 533648.

Stroud Micro Dairy has secured a further nine acres which is now also being converted to biodynamic organic farming. It’s great to see how the land, purchased with the community through the Biodynamic Land Trust, is acting as a catalyst for conversion; leasing 35 acres to us has enabled us to convert an extra 18 acres to biodynamic farmed land.

In April, our volunteer Ellie is setting up her own business, selling pasture-raised chickens on Oakbrook. They will follow the cows – our mobile cleaning crew – and do the land a world of good. Eggs will be available from April onwards through either Stroud Micro Dairy or from the Stroud Community Agriculture (SCA) veg shed.”.

Stroud Micro Dairy has recently had a new arrival. Watch the cow make her place in the herd – a fascinating insight into natural animal behaviour.Looking forward to sunshine, warmth and grass! See you soon we hope and all the best,

From Kees, Alice, Laura, Ellie and Sue of Stroud Micro Dairy.”

Ellie’s Eggs at Oakbrook Farm

Mobile chicken coop build on caravan chassis Oakbrook Farm, Stroud
Soon-to-be chicken farmer, Ellie Price, has always had a love of farming and has lots of experience working on different farms as a WWOOFer (Willing Worker On Organic Farms).

Ellie says: “This is my first independent farming venture which is exciting! Not being from a farming family directly makes it tricky to get started, so the opportunity presented by the Biodynamic Land Trust land and the support of Stroud Micro Dairy is greatly appreciated.”

The nest boxes have arrived, there’s a shed soon to be erected, and the mobile coop is in the process of being built on top of a caravan chassis (image above).

“The chassis is the best base to use as it will enable the coop to be easily towed around the farm to follow the cows,” explains Ellie. “The floor of the coop will be mostly mesh which will allow the droppings to fall straight to the ground where they’re needed. It will also have a section of solid floor so that the chickens can scratch around indoors if the fancy takes them. The set-up will also include a moveable sand bath and shelter, essential for chicken happiness and well being.”
Oakbrook chicks supplied by Organic Pullets co.uk

Ellie continues: “The chickens – Lohmann Brown, Redco, Silver Link, White Leghorn and Rhode Rockwill breed – will be arriving at 16 weeks old. This age is known as point of lay, and they will be just about ready to start their egg-laying careers. For the first month, the eggs they lay, known as pullet eggs, will be about a third of the size of an average egg. Due to this, they are not desired by supermarkets and normally go for processing into powdered or liquid egg. However, there is nothing wrong with these little guys. In fact many say they are tastier, richer and have bigger yolks compared to whites than normal eggs. Therefore, we can’t wait to sample them and be able to offer them to Stroud Community Agriculture and Stroud Micro Dairy customers in the next couple of months.”

Starter Farm back in action

Start of starter farm polytunnel at Oakbrook Farm, Stroud with starter farmer Kit Whitney

“After a year lying fallow (with the land farmed by Mark, Sam and the other members of the SCA team), the starter farm is back in action!” reports starter farmer, Kit Whitney. “I’ve had an amazing year wandering the woods and fields of Europe, am glad to be back in Stroud and looking forward to the season ahead. Over the winter, SCA erected the big polytunnel frame (image above), which is exciting – this will allow me and future starter farmers to extend our growing season, grow Mediterranean vegetables such as aubergines, peppers and tomatoes, and produce salads all winter long.”

Kit continues: “We’ve also put up a small greenhouse next to the power outlet, so I can protect tender seedlings from frost on a heated bench. I’ve had a lot of fun building the bench, and putting my seed order together. The big challenge for me this year is to find markets for all my produce. This has felt daunting at times but with several expressions of interest from local food businesses (most reassuringly Star Anise), it’s starting to feel like it might add up.”

Kit will be be selling to individuals via StroudCo Food Hub too, have a stall at Oakbrook, and in the SCA packing shed. “So do keep an eye out!” says Kit. “I’ll be growing salads, herbs, and a wide range of vegetables, and would love to share the fruits of my labours with you. Signing off, Kit (who used to be Clare – I changed my name last summer).”

Join biodynamic preparation stir and spray day

2pm Wednesday 18 April: Stroud Micro Dairy and the SCA will be spraying the first biodynamic preparation of the year. Called horn manure (BD500), it is the basis for soil fertility, and the renewal of degraded soils. Arrive at Hawkwood cow barn for 2pm to help with the stirring. Spraying will start around 3pm.

Stroud Micro Dairy dairyman, Kees Frederiks, says:

“If you are interested in taking part we would be very grateful for the extra arms and legs, and the company. Bring a bucket and a brush!”

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