Me and Dot!
I am very lucky to work for an organisation that encourages employees to volunteer in the local community - whether that's skills-based volunteering (using the skills I use every day to help another organisation) or something completely different. Yesterday... we did something completely different.
Our division held a Big Action Day, working in teams on different activities. I chose to do the 'manual labour, outdoors' activity, which - if you know me - isn't something I normally enjoy! But I wasn't alone - so a group of 16 of us headed to Caenhill Countryside Centre near Devizes - and thank goodness the weather was great! The centre is working with the local communities to bring agriculture and horticulture to children by providing courses set on a farm. It is entirely run by volunteers - and seemingly everything is donated. Everything is recycled. The strangest materials that you think would be binned can be used by them - we saw an old Maltesers stand from a shop that is destined to be a feeding tray for some animals! (So if you have any old tools, timber... well anything - they might just take it as a donation!)
Their Facebook page is here if you want to find out any more. And one resident has their own Twitter page... but more on them later!
We had a quick tour when we arrived, learning about the history of the farm, and were soon put to work.
We were taken to an incredibly overgrown patch of land - apparently behind all the rather dangerous brambles was an orchard - and it was our job to find it! We were asked to clear the area - including a large space that will be turned into an animal pen.
Now, I'm not normally into manual labour. But give me a scythe (seriously, did anyone do a health and safety assessment??) and the permission to destroy a bush - and I'm in my element! We cleared an incredible patch of land and all have the stinging nettles rashes and bramble scratches to prove it! I definitely ached the next day having used muscles I didn't know existed. I saw a different side to most of my colleagues - and I think we all embraced it so well. Go team!
I really felt like we'd made a difference for the farm - because there were so many of us it felt like a great way to get to know our team a bit better but also our numbers meant we could make a good job out of something that might have taken the regular volunteers weeks to do!
Chris and Helie from Caenhill were telling us all about their grand plans and I for one would love to go back next year and see how it all works out!
And a farm wouldn't be a farm without some animals. On arrival we met Cuthbert the goose. And his big brothers. Yeah, they're scary.
They have some very pretty chicks under the heat lamp.
And then they have the lambs. That are really quite tame - so they just came and joined in with the clearing!
And Dot the Lamb? Well... Dot is on Twitter. And of course was the star of my Sheep Selfie.
And on my way home the view of Cheltenham was so pretty I had to stop to take a snap!