Season of lists and mellow fruitfulness

Firstly apologies to Keats for borrowing and altering his first line of ‘To Autumn’ but it rather fits the current state of the garden and gardeners. Mostly we try to write the To Do lists when its raining and pick the fruit in the sunshine but yesterday Sheila and I picked raspberries in a downpour.

The blackberries are coming along slowly and as usual some of the biggest ones are out of reach so I’ve been thinking of these as the Angel’s Share (as in whiskey making). The blackcurrants were the best they’ve ever been and I made lots of cordial and jam and froze lots too so we can make a fresh batch of cordial for a taste of summer in the depths of a Yorkshire winter. The yellow plums from Oullin’s Gage have been eaten and now the Victoria plum has produced a vast harvest. We are reveling in the delights of picking a plum ripe from the tree that is juicy, sweet and comes clean off the stone as opposed to those bought in supermarkets that never really ripen. I have not yet resorted to making plum jam (in the style of the WI) but instead offer them to the builders. We’re watching the apples ripen by the day, Emily’s tree Early Windsor will be first as usual.

The Pomodoro tomatoes are being used to make passata, and the Sungold are being eaten daily in lunches. As ever we are just about keeping up with them  thanks to Sheila’s dedicated watering regime. The strange Green Zebra and Orange Russian are a rare novelty and the less said about the Faworyt tomatoes the better.

We were recently gifting a few pounds of damsons and as we have so much jam I decided on a new tack and made ketchup – I’m told it goes well with fish and chips.

The runner beans were sown rather late – I realised as we were constructing the tower that I hadn’t actually sown any! However that means they’re  ready now when there’s a lull in the dwarf french beans thankfully. All the beds are full and the garden looks lush today after the heavy rain.

Five new beds were built this year along the track below the courtyard to accommodate all the extra veg we wanted to grow and has a bed of potatoes, a bed of sweetcorn, two beds of mini sweetcorn (which we’re eating now) and a bed of Trombonchini squashes which have chosen to ramble horizontally rather than up the lovely wigwam structure I built from them as the packet said they are climbers! Below the sweetcorn are the pumpkins and when Sheila cut the mildewy leaves back twelve were revealed and are now hopefully going to turn orange in the late summer sun. Note to self – next time I ask the kids to peel the many layers off the mini sweetcorn ask them to do it outside – the hairy bits got everywhere!


The wildflower border along the back track has been so beautiful and sucessful we’ve decided to extend it towards the growing area. With the easy bit of ordering the seed done there’s just lots of hard digging to go. It’s ground we’ve never grown anything on and is full of bramble and giant willowherb roots and big stones. Hopefully next year it will be full of corn chamomile, meadow buttercup, corn flower, self-heal, yarrow, bird’s foot trefoil, goatsbeard, red campion and many more.

Fun at the Farm!

One day we (the kids) built a den. It was so much fun! We made the den camouflaged (by putting moss from the other side of what’s going to be Leo’s house in front of  the swing in the courtyard onto both of our rooves, one blue tarpaulin one black) and used real nails. We used pallets for the walls and we made a treasury. Once, we made a fire by clearing out the prickly brambles from a stone pit. Also, we nailed thin polystyrene to stop the wind from coming in. In the den, there are three rooms: One is a room with a little stone opening and a table and two benches that we nailed together. We made the benches with a thin piece of wood and two small cuboids, which we nailed to each side. the next room is a treasury of slag from iron furnaces which we put on some shelves that we made by hammering nails into pieces of wood onto the pallets. The treasury also has a bench but this one isn’t as sturdy as the two in the first room. We have built the third room much more recently than the other two so we haven’t really put anything into it yet but we hopefully will very soon. We had so much fun that day because we knew that it will be there for a long time and we can always go and play in it whenever we want.

By Raymond (8) and Lydia (7)

Since then we had a super hot weekend with the gym mat being converted into a water slide. More recently the Connors came for a working weekend and the fun continued! Working weekends are the second weekend in every month. All help appreciated! Polly

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Pumping the Slab!

The third  area of floor that  needed a concrete slab proved inaccessible for direct pour-in so we hired an intermediary in the form of a large pump on the back of a lorry.



At one time there were six men involved – only Scott seemed prepared to take a headlong plunge into the ready mix as he waded about on an uneven surface with the concrete lapping about near the top of his wellies. I thought the others were waiting to rush to his rescue should he falter, but when asked what they would do if he fell in, they replied, without hesitation, – “Laugh!”



The process got more technical towards the end!


A Fine Job and no accidents!


Beasts, Pumpkins and Apples

By Hannah

One of the best things about the farm for me is the closeness to nature. There is such a big difference from living in London, where you have to make a conscious decision to find some green space. On the farm, we are surrounded by beautiful country side and wildlife. It’s a way of life, rather than something you look for and do.

It’s an amazing opportunity for the kids to really start to understand eco systems and how everything is part of a cycle.

Taking advantage of the last of the late summer sun, the kids had a brilliant time getting dirty and searching for creepy crawlies. Lydia enjoyed it so much, she drew a picture of her findings!

By Polly

As the Autumn gets into full swing we have had a great weekend picking and carving our pumpkins, as well as harvesting our first crop of apples. We had a tasting session to see which variety we enjoyed most.

View from the scaffolding

October 20th

I was going to call this blog ‘view from the scaffold’ but that sounds a bit macabre and anyway the views are from and of the scaffold-ing that now graces the inside and outside of unit 5 creating a unique opportunity to admire the roof structure at close quarters and much of the surrounding area.

This was the only building remaining with its original stone roof and it was in need of repair so off came the stone tiles – all 50 crates and about as many tons of them. They are being replaced with reclaimed slate substantially reducing the weight of the roof on its trusses, purlins, rafters etc. (we are all learning the lingo – ‘lats?’ are they spelt ‘laths’ I wonder?)

The worst job, of spraying every one of the above with cuprinol, seems to have fallen to Leo and Greg, while the team of merry roofers have been hammering thousands of copper clouts through thousands of slates onto the carefully aligned ‘lats’.

A quick flick through the pictures shows the Byre (our home) peeping out round the corner, the polytunnel in all its glory, the vegetable beds including the carrots with their very classy voile curtaining, the overgrown courtyard with popular trampoline and views across the valley .



Youngest members have their say


We asked our youngest members a couple of questions to get their perspective on what we are doing at the site most weekends!

What do you like about coming to the site?

Alex: Tractor, digging.



Sylvie: Watering the plants and trampoline.

Grace: I like playing on the trampoline and watching movies in the caravan.


Lucy: I like that we are not going to be individual families but a whole family.



Lydia: There is sweet stuff to eat and I like having my own tree in the orchard. I like that when I visit Nana and Grandad I will see Emily and Lucy too.


Raymond: I am looking forward to our house being built so we can live here and do work here more easily, like wall building and gardening. I just like being part of the project because it makes me feel important. It is great to run around and play in the orchard now it is finished.


Luca: I like doing work at the farm, making a den and gardening.


Emily: I like building walls and helping with the jobs and being in the polytunnel.



What will life be like in the future when all the houses and site are finished?

Alex: Digger

Sylvie: My house. I like fun, playing toys.


Grace: I like having bunk beds with Luca.

Lucy: The best it can be. It will be harder for adults as you will have more children to look after.


Lydia: Fun and happy. It will be easier for adults as the children can play together.

Raymond: Fun just to walk a couple of metres to get to each other’s houses. All grouped together so we don’t have to drive to see each other.



Luca: I am looking forward to my house being built so Ray and I can have midnight feasts.

Emily: Really nice because we get to see each other more. We can build more stuff because we live closer.


Thank you to Alex (2), Sylvie (2), Grace (4), Lucy (6), Lydia (6), Raymond (8), Luca (8) and Emily (9) for all their great comments.

Sketching visitors

For people who like to sketch old buildings of character ( rickety steps, peeling paint, exposed beams), or even flowering weeds in newly excavated soil, Barnes Hall Farm buildings provide a perfect opportunity. So it was when we welcomed Jenny and a few colleagues from her sketching group on a bright and chilly September afternoon.


We are sure that these sketches will encourage the group to return in force next Spring.

Raise The Roof!

June 20/21st and everyone on site. This was the weekend of taking off the roof of the Byre. The scaffolding was in place with a lovely wide walkway for stacking the tiles. The pitch on the roof is very user friendly and with Greg and Leo often astride the ridge and sliding down the tiles as they loosened them to Polly and Sheena, the receivers below, the job was done in no time. Then the battens were removed and straight on the bonfire. The Byre was exposed to the elements, which were amazingly kind to us (then and since) as the roof team took on the more unenviable job of cleaning down the rafters and coating everything with preservative. What a great job they did!

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The professionals arrived the following week and now the roof is really taking shape – the back side of the roof has veluxes in place and most of its tiles, the front is waiting for the solar panels which will be embedded in the roof – ie surrounded by tiles. The new extension is a thing of beauty, the  rough stone wall at the back curves and soars up to an apex on the ridge and the end wall is a large window that looks out over the growing area. We have managed to find all the stone we need from the piles around the site created from our demolition and even the lintel for over the window which had to be over 5ft long.

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Greg has completed the high wall round the car parking area, begun by Dean, Sheena, Joe et al. The wall looks great and I think Greg gained a lot of satisfaction from the new skill he has acquired. Lots of people have assisted at various times, perhaps Raymond and Emily deserve a mention, and Colyn on a visit from the Lakes couldn’t resist getting stuck in!

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So, visible progress – very exciting!