The year is drawing to an end and Christmas is here. What a year it has been, so much has happened. Thank you for reading about my life here at The Orchard Trust and the things they do and, if you have come along to see us this year, a special thank you from all the animals.
The Trust is still celebrating its 30th birthday and they are still running lots of activities and fund-raising events up to next February.
Exciting news, we are going to get some more pigs! They are going to live in the paddock beyond the ash tree and there will be a boar and two sows. This means there will be piglets next spring; they are so cute and funny and I’m sure our clients and visitors will love them. People have been very generous this year, with money, time and advice and the generosity of our visitors has helped us with new projects like the encounter barn, the Rabbitarium, the new pigs and the Celebration Tree. All these things help us to provide an even better experience for our Day Service clients and the hundreds of visitors we get. If you haven’t been here yet you are most welcome in 2020, why not have a look at the website www.orchard-trust.org.uk and you can see some pictures and our new video that shows off what we do.
At the moment we are sharing our paddock with some of the sheep. There has been so much rain recently that their enclosure was flooded and they are staying with us while new drains are being dug. They are the ewes that are too young to be with the ram or who had a difficult birth last spring.
I hope you are in the festive spirit; they wanted me to wear a Santa hat for a Christmas picture but I’m not having that. I’m proud of my cute little horns and you wouldn’t be able to see them under a hat!
Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas holiday from all at the Orchard Trust.
It must be autumn now because the ram has arrived. We saw him jumping out of the trailer last week and he struts up and down in the middle paddock looking very important. This is the time when we are busy getting all the jobs done before the winter. All the hay is stacked and stored, fences and gates are mended and there are always leaves to be swept away. In the Rabbitarium the indoor winter run is almost finished and they are putting in lights and power sockets as well. I don’t think rabbits are as tough as goats so they probably need these luxuries, especially as we now have 2 new rabbits living here.
Something else new is our memorial tree. This isn’t a real tree, it’s made from metal and it stands between the encounter barn and the activity park. It is for people to remember those who are special to them by having a leaf engraved with a name. The leaves are going to be made out of coloured metals so they will always stay on the tree and visitors can come and see them whenever they want. There is even a little elf door at the bottom of the tree for children to put wishes in.
I like children and we see quite a few here at Stowfield, either as visitors or actually working here helping out. Work experience students from school often clean out our house and fill up the hay and water and one of them even helped to catch the sheep for their medicine the other day. This is for everyone, young and old, and we are always glad to see you.
If you haven’t visited us before, why not come along to our Christmas Tea in the Afternoon event on Wednesday 4th December. Have some tea and cake, meet the people who work here and, most importantly, come and say hello to me and my family. There is plenty of room to walk around and the pathways are all wide and safe for everything from roller skates to wheelchairs.
What a month for visitors it has been, we’ve seen so many people coming to visit here at Stowfield. Of course they all want to feed us and that’s the best part about it. Don’t tell my sisters but I think that the more treats we get from visitors the less we get fed in the evening so we don’t overeat.
It costs a lot to feed all the animals here so we are always grateful for donations. People have been very generous and every month the man opens the wishing well and takes out all the money they have put in it.
It isn’t just us animals that benefit though; the Orchard Trust supports and provides services to lots of people and donations help us to make things even more special for them. The staff and friends of the Orchard Trust have been raising money all this year as the charity is 30 years old. Everything from Zipwires to triathlons, barn dances and spending the night in the grounds of a haunted house.
It isn’t just money though; people give their time to help out with the grounds, taking care of us animals and also to help others who need support to come and be with us. A man called Mike gave us over 100 bales of hay, enough to feed all of us all winter! I think everything around us is here simply to make a difference to people’s lives. Sometimes it’s a very small difference like having a laugh watching us jump around on our goat gymnasium but other times it’s a big difference, like making someone smile who hasn’t smiled for a long while or giving someone a reason to get out for a walk, swing on a swing or explore the sensory room. Goats don’t usually get a chance to do wonderful things like that so I think I’m very lucky to live here.
Why not come and see us, perhaps we can put a smile on your face too or you could even help us to make someone else’s day really special.
The sun is still shining and we are enjoying the last bit of warmth before the leaves start to go brown and the temperature drops. Goats enjoy the cold weather too as we have a nice fur coat to protect us, so we are also looking forward to the autumn.
This last month has been very busy; we had our summer shutdown where staff worked very hard to clean and tidy the whole site. I went for a little walk around and it is looking beautiful! The inside too, they have a big new fish tank that I could spend hours just watching it. We also had a film crew making a film about the Trust. My whole family starred in it and we are looking forward to seeing the finished film.
This week we had a special tea in the afternoon, where we had 10 Vintage Cars in our car park. I saw many people taking photos and sitting inside the cars, then enjoying their tea and cakes. We want to thank the Forest of Dean Historic Vehicle Club for bringing their vintage cars to us and those people who volunteered to help on the day.
Our regular volunteers are also really valued here. They enrich the lives of the people we support in so many ways; assisting with activities, helping with access to the community and giving time on our smallholding and gardens.
At the moment we are looking for a volunteer driver to drive our minibus; volunteers to join our Day Services sessions supporting individual service users to engage in activities during sessions (i.e. cooking, art, craft, IT, gardening etc.); and volunteers to work on the smallholding. That’s where my family and I live, its great fun! You would be taking care of us and all the other animals here. We are all very tame and love a cuddle (even Millie the pig!) The grounds also need care and it looks so nice when it’s all trimmed back and tidy.
Why not get in touch if you would like to join our team.
I am not sure what the weather thinks it is doing at the moment. One minute it’s sunny and warm, then it’s pouring down with rain and cold. But people still come to visit us and we like that very much!
Orchard Trust is part of the Forest of Dean Dementia Action Alliance and every third Thursday of the month we have a Gentle Country Walk. I heard they have tea/coffee and biscuits followed by some gentle exercise, led by a walk leader. These walks are mainly aimed at people who are living with Dementia and their carers but are also suitable for those with mobility difficulties who would like to enjoy the outdoors in a safe and supportive environment. This site has a network of level tarmac paths which are wide enough to support two wheelchairs to pass comfortably and for those who use a walking aid to be supported on both sides. There are plenty of benches to sit and rest along the way and I like it that we goats are part of the walk, so people come to say hello to us and sometimes give us some food. Unfortunately we are not allowed biscuits.
Also along the walk is the Rabbitarium which is now functioning and giving a home for the guinea pigs, hamsters and the rabbits, who have been happily lolloping around. We plan to give a home to a couple of ducks and chickens in there too. I am looking forward to meeting them.
Our Summer Fete went really well this year, the weather was in our favour and I saw loads of people enjoying themselves. All of us in the goat family certainly enjoyed meeting the visitors and showing off our new adventure playground. Although I don’t do maths, I heard that we have raised around £3000 which is wonderful. A huge thank-you to everyone that attended and supported us. If you missed the Fete, don’t worry because our site is open for visitors all year round, just get in touch if you would like to come and meet us.
The sun is shining again and we have had loads of visitors recently from places as far away as Stroud, Hereford and Tewkesbury. They have all come to see the animals, enjoy the activity park and walk in the sensory garden.
Our huge news this month is that we have an activity park all of our own, just for goats! A wonderful team of volunteers from the Forest Men’s Shed (including quite a few ladies too) came and spent a whole day building towers and ramps, swings and see-saws for us to play on. Not only is it great for us to jump around on but the visitors seem to like watching us do it as well.
Some of them might even want to have a go themselves. I know that a few weeks ago a brave bunch of staff and supporters went down the big zipwire at Tidenham to raise funds for the trust. I think it must have been a lot like flying and I hope they enjoyed it because they managed to raise over £2000 to help us develop and run the services here and at our residential homes in the Forest. You don’t have to jump off cliffs to help us though; we would love to see anyone who wanted to help out. There are all sorts of jobs to do; from weeding and cutting the grass to cleaning out and feeding the animals like us, painting the garden furniture, driving our minibus or growing crops in the polytunnel. We are very proud of what we do here and we want to share it with as many people as possible. Come and see us; it’s free, it’s fun and it’s accessible.
By the time you read this we will have had our Grand Summer Fete. Right now though, everyone is hard at work getting ready for the day. All my family will be there, including the 2 babies who are now growing up and very bouncy and cute. This is our 30th birthday Summer Fete this year so there will be lots to celebrate.
Greetings from a rather wet Stowfield, the weather has not been good and it doesn’t feel like summer. The sheep were shorn of their wool a few weeks ago and I hear that most of them would quite like it back! We goats don’t mind the rain just as long as there are still visitors to spoil us. We love it when visitors come and we get let out to follow them around the site. So many new flowers to chew and it’s wonderful how excited some of them get to see us up close. If you’ve never cuddled a lamb or a baby goat you should come along and try it. All the animals on the smallholding like meeting people, especially Millie the pig. They say Millie is very rare, rarer than giant pandas (whatever they are). I don’t know about rare but she is very friendly and loves a good scratch and a handful of pig nuts.
Some people who haven’t been getting many treats are the staff, who have been on a sponsored diet to raise funds for the Orchard Trust. Between them they have lost over eight and a half stones since January and have raised hundreds of pounds for the Trust to help their work with people in the community.
There is going to be a big Summer Fete in July, when everyone is invited to come and meet us and see the work that the Trust does. There will be live music, entertainment and lots of stalls including a barbecue and a bar (whatever that is). The staff are busy getting things ready and I think I’m going to have my own place in the new encounter barn, but I might have to share it with the sheep. The small animals like the rabbits and the guinea pigs will have their own place too (they call it the Rabbitarium, which is a bit posh).
If you’d like to help the trust there are loads of different ways to do so. Please get in touch and we’ll show you how.
this is my favourite time of the year because the days are longer and warmer and there is blossom everywhere. The smallholding is busy with new life and visitors who come to see (and feed!) us. I have a new house where I live with my sister Niamh and her two beautiful little kids but all the goats get together in the field during the day.
I think we are going to get a new adventure park! The Forest of Dean Men’s Shed came to see us and they are going to build it in our field. It will have things to climb and balance on and it will be just for us goats. There is another activity park for all the other visitors, with swings, a roundabout, climbing frame and a trampoline. It is a special park because anyone can use it; all the equipment can take a wheelchair and they are very easy to get to. There are toilets very close, including a wet room with a hoist and proper changing facilities if someone needs them. We goats don’t worry about things like that but we know it is very important to our visitors.
We all love visitors here at Stowfield. We are very proud of what we have and we want to share it with as many people as possible. Whether you are one person or a very large group you will always be welcome. Everyone here is very caring and if you have any additional needs please let us know.
I was looking forward to hearing about the great zipwire adventure but it had to be postponed because the weather was so bad. A large group of staff and supporters were going to jump off a high cliff and ride on a wire over a big lake. That sounded like something any goat would love to do but it isn’t as easy for humans and they were going to be very brave and raise money for the Orchard Trust, the charity that runs the site here. I hope they get a new day soon.
I’m a bit sad at the moment because I lost the baby I was carrying. Everyone did all they could and I even had a caesarean section but sadly he didn’t survive. We goats are herd animals and it helps that my sister Niamh had 2 beautiful kids; they are a couple of weeks old now and completely adorable. Everyone wants to watch them bouncing and jumping around and sometimes they let people hold them if they are gentle. All the ewes have finished lambing now and the big field is full of jumping bundles of spring energy. I think we have also got two orphan lambs as well; there is coming and going all hours of the day as they are given bottles of milk and sometimes they come out to play and are every bit as bouncy as we are.
Spring is a wonderful time to come and visit us here at Stowfield, especially now there are so many new things to look at. There will be a Grand Opening next month to show off the new site. There is the Activity Park, with wheelchair accessible equipment, the encounter barn where you can meet me and my friends, the sensory garden, the sensory room with all the audio-visual equipment and something they call the ‘Rabbitarium’ which is where you can meet the little animals. The staff and clients at the dayservice have all worked very hard to get things ready and would really like to see you if you want to come and visit. There is no charge to come here but if you are able to make a donation it would be put to good use as they are always trying to expand and improve the facilities.
I hear they are raising money to build a special new toilet for the people who use wheelchairs. We goats don’t worry about toilets but I know it is very important to our visitors and the more visitors we get the more little food treats we get so I think it is very important indeed.
I’m really excited and a bit nervous because my baby is almost due. When I lie quietly in the straw I can feel the kicking inside me. One of the sheep has got in first though and I can see her lamb jumping around in the big field. Lambs are wonderful jumpers but goats are better, we are built for it!
The big news this month is the birthday party they had; I’ve never seen so many people here. Orchard Trust, where I live, was 30 years old and lots of friends, old and new, came to celebrate. There was a huge cake with bright orange icing but we goats didn’t get any; apparently it’s not good for us. I was a bit jealous because the ewe with the lamb got to go and meet everyone and they were holding her lamb and making a fuss of her.
The weather has been terrible, I’m so glad I have a nice solid shelter with plenty of straw to get out of the rain. I think they are building us a new house because there will be too many for this one when my sister Niamh and I have our family. Some of the people came and very carefully laid some heavy slabs on the ground and then they put a wooden floor on top. I think there is going to be a bit more to it than that but we all love jumping on and off the new floor.
There is always lots going on here and we are all curious to find out what is happening. Millie the pig has been away for a while but we think she is coming back soon. Last weekend, when it was quiet, one of the people came and built a new house for her. I think she too will be having babies when she comes back, so by the time Spring is at its height there will be loads of young things running and jumping about in the paddocks here. I hope lots of people will come and see them.