Reduce, recycle, re-purpose, reinvent and relax!
Here at Ganders Farm we have many factors that contribute to what we do on our farm, why we keep the animals we do and what drives us to produce and make the things that we have. When we started out it was all about growing our own food, but nearly 6 years on the postage stamp veg patch has turned in to nearly 11 acres, a lot of what we do is second nature to us but as the new year dawned it got us asking what are our ethics and morals that drive what we do? One of these contributing factors is that we want to reuse where we can. When we started the farm there was a lot of waste left and dumped on the land, some was in a useful state but most was just someone else’s junk. Where we could, we made good, so broken fences were repaired from other disused sections. Old tractor tyres that were left laying around the farm became vegetable beds and our old chicken shed (from the allotment) became the new farm loo, minus the chickens (most of the time)!
We endeavour to reduce the waste we create and the waste that the animals produce. For example any fires we have the ash is used for the chickens to have dust baths in, sawdust bags are our new refuse bags and the soiled bedding goes first to the muck heap and then is spread onto the hay paddocks and onto the vegetable beds, producing healthy fertilized crops from both.
Re-purposing materials and making something new from old challenges us to get inventive. I have an old scaffolding tower that has been cut and remodelled into a four goat milking stand, something I would not suggest unless you have great knowledge or a very useful partner who can weld and visualize the end results from a pile of scrap that you so lovingly bring home! Our stall that we take to the farmers markets is made from old potato chitin boxes and our point of sale displays have been put together using a mix of recycled and new to us items. Our new barn that keeps some of the elements at bay is made from some tin that a neighbour was throwing out and used telegraph poles, constructions doesn’t get much sturdier than that!
Some of you may know that we sell the excess eggs from the farm at the front gate but did you know that we can’t reuse your old egg boxes that you kindly give back to us? Even here we have a plan to recycle as we get quite a lot returned. I have been taking them home and with some recycled paper, card, hot wax and sawdust I can make firelighters that we plan to sell out the front next to the eggs. With just a small amount of effort your returned boxes that would have gone into the recycling bin can be turned into something. So keep an eye out if you have a fire at home and want an easy way to get it going!
Diversity on the farm is a huge contributing factor, we love the wildlife and want it to be around not just now but for all, our farm is maintained for the animals and wildlife. If we have had to remove a habitat we try to put another back somewhere else on the farm, so long grass for example in the hay paddocks gets cut once or twice a year to provide fodder for our animals, but when we do we leave a strip around the fiels uncut and there is always long grass in the top paddock not too far from where the hay paddocks are. Log piles and dry stone walls give great hiding spots for many creatures all around the farm. Each edge of the farm has a hedgerow, these are on the long-term plan to be laid and have extra planting put in of native and fruiting plants into the gaps that have appeared over the years! The farm has many varieties of birds that visit, pass over and hunt the land, some we have put up nest boxes for to help encourage them to stay. Many others have found their own homes in gaps between walls and in the ends of metal roofing tubes, much like my blue tit family who have nested in nearly the same spot every year since we have owned the farm and the robins that insist the post box is their home!
Some people call it enrichment, down at Ganders Farm I call it ‘Goatainment’. We try to replicate certain aspects of the natural behaviour for our goats. Foraging for example, our girls have their hayracks up high so they have to get up on their hind legs just like they would if picking leaves from a tree. They have things hung from the roof beams that when licked or nibbled, move allowing for certain playful natures to run riot! Recycled wooden boxes, beams and rocks allow for jumping, climbing and balancing when they are feeling active and there is no sign of rain! Broom heads and old brushes are tied onto the gates for scratching and the odd felled log gets just the right spot between the horns!
Our soap started off as a by product from the excess milk that we had left over from our house, we didn’t want to waste it and well the dog was getting fat! Turned out it was great and you know the rest! (And if you don’t, hoof yourself over to our online shop and check out some of our amazing soaps!)
With the up coming ice cream we are again keeping it local, we are using small independent businesses, pick your owns and village cooperatives whenever we can. Other farmers who we meet at the markets who produce some brilliant products will be making regular appearances in our seasonal flavours. We endeavour to keep ingredients from within a twenty mile radius just like we do with our soap, this wont change as we believe that if you say locally produced that doesn’t mean just made local it means sourced local to.
And now to relax, knowing that we really are trying to do our best by the animals, environment, your skin and tummies! Not only are we getting great feedback from customers all over the UK about how lovely our soap is but we are also bringing you some brilliant ice cream in the next few months. So if you have the appetite of a goat and want to try some head over to the event pages and find out if we will be near you soon or you can invite us along to an event your holding, like the ‘stuff-yourself-silly-with-ice-cream-day’ you know you want to hold!