Full of the joys of spring: Shabden Park farm open day

This Saturday, April 27, Shabden Park Farm, just outside Chipstead, south of Coulsdon, is staging its spring open day, when frolicking lambs will be the centre of attention.

spring lambVisitors can talk to farmer Mark, and our sabbatical student Marie, who will be in the lambing shed so that children can get up close to the baby lambs.

The farm will be running a “name the lambs” competition – this year with separate categories for adults and children, and kids can do a quiz sheet to help them remember what they’ve learnt, then claim a small prize at the end.

There will be refreshments available including hand-made Sussex beef burgers (“no horse, in a round”), teas, coffees and kids’ drinks and you are welcome to bring your own camping chairs to sit in the food area.

The open day runs from 10am until 4pm, and the Farmers’ Market will also be open, trading from trade from 9.30am as usual. Most stalls will also stay until the end of the day.

Many of the stalls will have ready to eat food and drink; cakes, fruit, bread, pastries and pies, and wine, cider (not sold by the glass) and apple juice, as well as products to stock up your cupboards for the month.

Please note no dogs in the lambing shed and on leads around the farm. Pregnant women are advised to avoid physical contact with ewes and lambs and farm gates and equipment as there is a small but significant risk to their unborn child.

According to the farm, despite the wet and cold spring until this week’s sunshine, they have had a good lambing so far, with the vast majority of ewes rearing twins. “We have around 20 ewes left to lamb in the shed and there’s a good chance some may lamb on our Open Day,” they say.

The lambing shed is full of individual pens of ewes and lambs “mothering up”, then once they are well established and we are sure the lambs are being fed and have no problems, the ewes’ feet are trimmed, the lambs’ tails rung to stop them getting struck by maggots in the summer, both are numbered and they are turned out into the field.

“Our cows are looking heavy in calf in the field. As long as the temperature is warm, they will calve outdoors and we go round them twice a day to check. The baby calves are faster than us and hard to catch within two or three days so we have to make sure we see when a cow has calved – very often it takes a while to find the calf as they leave them hidden and deliberately keep away from them so as not to give the game away. The trick is to check the calf without making a noise, otherwise the cow comes charging over.”

A recommended day out for families with young children, or those looking to buy some quality produce directly from the producers.

There are also a number of good paths for country walks around the local downland, including this recommended walk from Walker Dunelm.

The full address for the farm Open Day is:
Shabden Park Farm
High Road
Tel/Fax: 01737 552744

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  • Lambs! (pineknoborganicfarm.com)

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