We are delighted to welcome young farmer and blogger Jodi Fenwick to the Indie Farmer fold as a new regular contributor. In her first ‘Country Chronicles’ instalment we get to hear about what’s been happening on the farm and she shares some Kitchen Garden planting tips for February.

Before I make a start on my first post, I would like to say how exceptionally excited I am to be welcomed into the Indie Farmer Family.

My name is Jodi and I have lived on and been around farms and farming all of my life. I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to scribble down my ramblings on various aspects of the farm on here for you to read, so I can share interesting (I hope) stories and information.

Having started my blog: soloshepherdess.blogspot.com, at the end of December last year (2015) I had not been ‘writing’ for very long before I was asked to do ‘My Farming Week’ in The Farmers Guardian. This was a huge step for me, I was congratulated and supported by so many people. From there, I was asked by Nigel, whether I would like to join the Indie Farmer team and do a diverse monthly post of my weird and wonderful ways from my farm near Battle.

The ewes were certainly very happy with their new homemade feed trough

The ewes were certainly very happy with their new homemade feed trough

I have a variety of things going on this month, firstly, sheep related tasks, vaccinating the ewe lambs (putting them onto the breeding ewes program) and also the in-lamb ewes ready for their little ones to be born from the 10th April! It is, in my opinion, a vital aspect of not only lambing, but sheep care in general.

As the lamb develops inside the ewe, the ewe’s antibodies are already being given to the lamb through the umbilical cord. Then when the lamb is born, the ewe continues to pass on more antibodies in the all-important colostrum, over the first 24 hours after birth.

I will be stocking up on my lambing kit, sad as it sounds, I love making sure I have everything in stock and in date should the time come to use it.

Bess at 5 months old watching her flock

Bess at 5 months old watching her flock

My border collie pup Bess is now 10 months old and she is coming of age where she will need to start training on the sheep. A task which is best approached with calm positivity. I will be training her on my own, with a little help from a small group of four wethers. I hope you will come with us on this adventure and see how she turns out!

My second duty of the month will be to finish off Bess’ training ring. I have completed stage 3 and stage 4, putting the stock fencing on is about to commence.

Training Ring Stage 3

The Training Ring at the end of ‘Stage 3’

Another project which needs to be built is a bridge! I have drawn up some plans for a small bridge for my sheep to run over in order for me to move them to my fields over the other side of the stream. This will be far easier than having to trailer them all and drive them across.

If you follow a yearly calendar for sowing seeds and planting you will know that you can start sowing seeds from any month, but for me, February is the time for seeds to start being sown, so the greenhouse is set to be cleaned and tidied ready to start the process of producing flavoursome goodies to tickle the taste buds. If you haven’t grown and eaten your own produce before, I highly recommend it, not only will it give you a satisfying feeling of achievement, but anything you choose to grow will taste amazing! It is a little known fact that some supermarket fruit and veg are very often pumped with water to ‘fill’ them out to look bigger and juicier, they are also mostly grown from a seed modified to produce a fruit or vegetable which cannot ‘reproduce’ itself, i.e. the seeds inside will not be able to germinate.

Geese in the Kitchen Garden

The geese lending a beak with the weeding of the raised beds

When growing anything you must always be aware of the weather, if you know it is going to be frosty or snow then that’s really not going to be the kindest weather to plant out seeds or tiny seedlings. I don’t know about anyone else, but the weather has been all over the place to me, one morning of snow one week, 12 degrees and bright sunshine the next, then a ton of wind and rain! Honestly the plants don’t know whether they’re coming or going, I had japonica flowers (traditionally flowering from March to May) on my yule log last year!

My Kitchen Garden is a little untidy at this moment in time, as I look out over the orchard watching the geese pecking away at the weeds in the raised beds it brings a certain gloom over me. However, I am more than confident by the time I next speak to you, the KG will look far more alluring than in its current state.

AS FEBRUARY FLOURISHES:

SPRING CLEAN GREENHOUSE PURCHASE FRESH COMPOST FOR BEDS MARKERS SEEDS

SOW OUTSIDE: EARLY VARIETY BROCCOLI ALL ROUNDER CAULIFLOWER CARROTS BROAD BEANS (UNDER PROTECTIVE COVERS/COLD FRAMES)

PLANT OUTSIDE: FIRST EARLY VARIETY OF POTATOES ONIONS GARLIC MUSHROOMS EARLY SHALLOTS

SOW INDOORS: ARTICHOKE AUBERGINE BRUSSEL SPROUTS SUMMER CABBAGE WINTER CABBAGE CELERIAC CHILLIS LEEKS SECOND ONIONS SALAD COMPONENTS (PEPPERS RADISHES ROCKET SALAD LEAVES LARGER TYPE TOMATOES)

I hope you have enjoyed reading my first piece, I hope you will come back next month to catch up on how the month of February went for me!

Thank you for reading.

jodi Fenwick

Jodi