It’s not often that we have to give sad news at the farm, so it is with extremely heavy hearts that we must announce that Margery, our Gloucestershire Old Spot pig has passed.
What a charismatic and beautiful lady she was. She was the first big animal you would see if you arrived on the yard in the morning before turnout (or on a wet day as she hated the rain and would not go out), and the last you would see at the end of the day. She delighted everyone that met her with her pink slippery snout, blond eyelashes, squeaks and grunts and fondness for having her soft pink tummy tickled for as long as you could muster.
In the Autumn of last year, she was diagnosed by our two independent vets as having arthritis in her back legs and hips. It is a common condition in pigs of her size and age. We hoped that with the arrival of Spring and Summer she would overcome her symptoms and have a brighter outlook for a time. However, even after being medicated and having daily exercise to keep her joints moving, she was obviously still feeling the effects, even during the amazing weather of late.
With all of these factors in mind and her increasing awareness of her aches and pains, we were advised that it was time to spare her any further discomfort and indignity. We hope as supporters and friends of the farm that you can appreciate what a hard decision this was for us to make as a team. We felt we should make this announcement because we know that she was loved by so many of you.
Daniel Fletcher is one of our young farmers, and went to collect Margery when he was twelve with our retired Stockman John Langan in 2012. He had been coming to the farm every weekend since he was eight years old, and is now almost eighteen and has just started an apprenticeship with us. He wanted to talk about his memories of Margery.
“When we got her, she was ‘in pig’ which means she was pregnant. We walked her every day and she settled in to her new home really quick. I loved going in to her wallow to interact with her. She really loved to have her tummy scratched and her back brushed. I came in every weekend so when she had the piglets I was one of the first volunteers to see them. It was a great experience, and she was a brilliant mum. She made me laugh so many times when she made her funny noises at dinner time. She grew so big, it was like she would never stop, but she never stopped being a lovely animal.”
We will all miss her and the yard will not be the same without her presence, but we hope that the arrival of two new piglets will give everyone a smile after the sadness of losing our dear old Margey Girl.
Recently we have undertaken some work to understand and manage our environmental impact. To begin this process, we had a City Bridge Trust funded environmental audit, which has helped us to understand the full impact of our organisation on the environment. As a result of his audit, we are looking at lots of ways to save energy, including:
We have already installed advanced heating controls that are saving 20% of our overall gas bill.
We have also joined the Camden Climate Change Alliance, which helps of hundreds of Camden organisations to access resources and know-how to reduce our environmental impact and costs. Recently we were awarded their Going Green mark, in recognition of our work so far in making a positive impact on our environment.
The farm has loads of well-rotted manure available for use on your gardens, plots or allotments.
Manure is a valuable resource which completes the nutrient cycle and allows much of the nitrogen fixed with Legumes, vegetables or forages to be returned to the soil where it can become available for subsequent crops. Manuring aims to improve the structure, composition, and water and nutrient retaining properties of the soil. It is also important as a source of energy and nutrients for the soil ecosystem. Well-rotted manure can help you produce healthy, tasty crops for you and your family.
How to use manure
Handle with gloves and spread approx. 1 kg per M2, and dig in to a depth of 15 -25 cm, rake over top of plot and leave for 2 weeks before hoeing off any weed seedlings that have emerged.
Plant plot as soon as soil has warmed up, usually mid-March for hardy crops, later for tender plants. Refer to seed packets for more info.
Manure can also be used as a sheet mulch around fruit or flowering shrubs, as a starter in your compost heap, in potato or celery trenches or in raised beds. Large applications of manure can cause some crops such as carrot to fork, and will need to be limed. It is not a substitute for potting compost.
Manure gatherers need to wear suitable protective clothing such as wellies and gloves, and need to speak to a member of staff before starting to dig. They will show you where to take the muck from. You also need to bring your own bags or other suitable containers, are advised to wash your hands at the facilities in the farm, and to remove outside footwear before entering home.
You may borrow a wheelbarrow and pitch fork if available. Again, seek a member of staff for info.
There is parking in local streets which is free after 11am Mon-Fri, and all weekend. There is no on site parking available.
Bag your muck, barrow it down, pile by gate, get vehicle, load up. The rest is up to you. Do not park outside the farm. This is permit only and you may be ticketed or clamped.
The manure is free for a limited period. Please ask a member of staff before taking from a heap. Thank you.