Memories of making friends with Cuthbert

It's my first blog of 2021 and I want to start by saying Happy New Year everyone. You've shared quite a year with us, but together we've made it through to here. Before we move on to share the New Year and I let you know about all of the amazing things coming at the farm this year, let's take a look back at 2020. The year we'll never forget.

As far as New Years go, 2020 started off pretty much the same as any other. It was cold, most of our animals were in the barn and our students returned back from their Christmas breaks to help as usual. Only, there was one difference, we were saying goodbye to Chris and Caroline. Ok, it was only for three weeks, but I don't live close enough to take over the rush hour and I can't make the animals talk like Chris does.

As sad as we were to wave Chris and Caroline off on their adventures in Kenya working with some amazing charities and community projects, and as sad as I was to not go, there was plenty to do in a chilly England. Helie and a small team of volunteers kept the animals fed and clean, the students busy and started to tidy up ready for spring. All while Casey and I visited as much as we could, I gave Cuthbert as much attention as I possibly could (he was really missing Chris) and I developed my own social media accounts to share my pictures with you and a glimpse of the farm while the travellers were away.

While I missed Chris, his return gave us one of my favourite videos of the year, Cuthbert being reunited with him again. But there wasn't much time for Chris to catch-up before our geese Cuthbert and Owen were tying the knot and some new arrivals started appearing. All starting with some baby goats, including our very own Margot and Paris, with just a few moving on to other projects. Closely followed by some lambs with very few of our own (Henry obviously wasn't ready) and orphans Rachel, Lou and Bob keeping Chris on his toes with the bottle feeds. Plus of course a few chicks and ducklings for good measure.

Just as we were enjoying the start of Spring the UK entered lockdown. The next few months saw our students stay home, regular funding gone without students and placements, few volunteers in and Casey and I missing the farm so much. The farm work had to continue though, even with few hands, so Chris and Helie along with the support of Caroline, Julia and Perry worked amazingly hard to keep everything going. All with the kindness and donations from you, our supporters, to keep them going.

Desperate to find ways to keep involved and support the team's hard work I started my weekly blog, this blog in fact and there was one very common theme, Cuthbert. After having been attacked by our noisy geese who wanted to take his partner, our star goose Cuthbert led a much quieter life away from the rush hour door. It was far from boring though, he sent cheeky emails to well wishers from his office, met his offspring Benedict and got himself a set of wheels to help on his adventures.

Chris ready for his Kenyan adventures

While the Spring and lockdown saw a tough time for Cuthbert, the lack of people and our gates being closed did bring some good news for the rest of the animals though with some extra freedom. Our pigs were left to roam eventually leading Marlene and Trigger to find love, but no piglets for now. Our emus had the run of the barn with them eventually turning out to be a breeding pair and they were far too keen to share that news with me. All while the new ducklings and goslings had their share of extra freedom too, including Caroline's baby Giggle who was hatched from an egg from another farm.

When Casey and I were able to return to the farm there was always an emu to greet us at the gate, a few volunteers had returned and we were seeing their hard work each visit and it was almost harvest time, which we were lucky enough to join. We helped plant sunflower seeds and encouraged you to do the same, we welcomed the most unseasonable lambs Devon and Dorset and even saw the work of a few returning students. All between seeing some VIP visitors join Chirs at the farm in person, with me being lucky enough to join some of you. It was so good to meet you, watch you enjoy the farm and witness the dancing.

By the time the weather started to chill off and we'd celebrated someone called The Chatty Farmer's Birthday, we'd welcomed some new rescue runner ducks who even produced Smile, and had our cats taken to the vets. Thank you Duncan for taking on this task, as much as we love the new additions of Violet, Bea and Teddy in our lives, it's much better for our cats. Especially since Chris had the best pre-Birthday present, Oreo the dog, who came to us after a search for a new home.

Despite making the best of the rest of the year, there was unfortunately bad news too, we lost a dear friend to our project, lost Kenny the rooster earlier in the year, went down to one turkey and we lost our beloved Cuthbert too. His passing made the news, caused lots of tears and saw Chris lose his best friend, but he will always be remembered.

As the year came to a close we faced more restrictions and our birds joined lockdown due to avian flu, though there was good news too. We welcomed Amelia as a volunteer, Claire who's going to be working with us and Dave and Michelle who we hope will keep coming back to help more often. All as well as the news of a baby with myself expecting a new arrival in May.

So there you have it, a summary of a year at the farm. Thank you to everyone who's volunteered by collecting feed, driving tractors, fixing fences and working on Chris' ideas. Thank you to everyone who's planned a shoutout with us for Birthdays, Christmas, well wishes and so much more, I can't wait to plan more. Thank you to everyone who's donated, become a patreon or purchased my calendar or Caroline's merchandise, you keep our animals fed and our project alive. But, most importantly, thank you for being there and sharing the farm with us.

It's an absolute pleasure to be part of this team, support Chris, Helie and Caroline and I look forward to everything still to come. Here's to a fantastic 2021 with you all.

Until next time, keep safe,

Kara, Casey and Teddy