Thursday, 10 May 2012

Spitalfields City Farm

Enough death and destruction!...Well, for now.  Readers of earlier blogs will know what I mean and be able to read on without wincing today. If you don't mind giant snails.  


Old MacDonald had a farm and so did Spitalfields!  And on that farm were rabbits, donkeys, Shetland ponies (actually, a lone pony happily keeping the donkeys company), pigs, guinea pigs, pigeons, ferrets, ducks, geese, cockerels, a variety of chickens, finches, budgies (actually, a lone budgie happily keeping the finches company), goats, sheep and two little spring lambs, as well as one wide-eyed, new born, tiny black lamb being carried into the barn - they were all here. And it didn't matter that it was raining...and we had no umbrellas.  We are undeterred on our lunchtime quests by such concerns. To the animals!

Our first encounter was with a giant snail.  As you can see, it's as big as the little boy's hand who is very carefully holding it.  He looks quite pleased.  And so he should.  It was a magnificent creature.  (I may be alone in saying this, as Jess had hot footed it!).   His friend looks less convinced and slightly horrified (not dissimilar to the expression on Jess's face when I caught up with her).  What a size!  He'd munch through your vegetable patch in no time.


Next up was something fluffier.  A big, pretty, silver grey rabbit in his hut mansion.  It was nice to see that all the animals had plenty of space and were well cared for.  (Some photos may be a little splodgey due to rain drops!)


Then we found the donkeys under their little shelter in their fetching coats.  Their Shetland pony friend, from harsher climes, was out braving the drizzle in their shared paddock.


Cool hairstyle, lovely floor length tail.
You can't tell from this pic but he was teeny tiny.

Onto other hardy creatures.  A bedraggled (belly dreadlocks!) but proud-looking ram and his hareem of attractive lady sheep.





The goats
The Pigeons

Then we came across these two handsome chaps, Holmes and Watson, so called for their intelligence. (There is more information and funny stories about all the animals, along with videos, too, on the farm's website. Please see link to the website, below.) In the last photo, Holmes and Watson squished their snouts together, up against the fence, one snorted then the other one made a strange high pitch noise. They found a natural rythym with their snorting and squealing, taking turns with their different sounds, like they were singing to each other. This went on for some time. It was curiously very sweet.



Onto the fowl.  First up, Mr and Mrs Goose - Mr Goose, proud and vigilant and keeping his eye on us while Mrs Goose investigates the puddles for tasty morcels.  Then there was the cockerel and his big, fluffly-bottomed lady friend.  And then an aviary of zebra finches and a budgie, the prettiest turquoise.

 


Last of all, we found the lambs, who we'd been looking forward to meeting most of all.  Such darling little creatures. 


Here are some sights from around the farm, including a leafy green "igloo", with wooden benches and seating inside; the farm shop; a treehouse; and a wildlife garden full of spring bluebells.

 

 

 

All sorts of fruit, vegetables and herbs, including mint and strawberries (below), had been planted and had sprung up quite nicely in little plots around the farm.

 

Some other sights...


 

There are a few things, we've noticed, that seem to follow us around on our lunchtime trips and the Shard, a pyramid-shaped skyscraper in Southwark, is one of them.  At 310 metres tall, with 72 floors, and the tallest building in Europe, it's no wonder we keep spotting it!  Designed in 2000 by Renzo Piano and completed in April 2012, it will open to the public in July this year.

Can you spot the Shard? 
We can, all over London!

Built on the site of an old railway goods depot off Brick Lane, the farm is a really worthwhile community project that allows inner city children to connect with nature in a way that may not otherwise be available to them.  It's also a learning resource and a fun day out for all who visit.  A green oasis filled with all sorts of rare breed animals and plants, where locals are actively encouraged to join in and help out, and, set up by volunteers in 1978 and co-ordinated by two members of staff, it still relies on volunteers today to help keep it running. 

There are all sorts of events and activities from "Pick and Cook" cookery classes to rare sheep shearing events, Eco Chic Sunday Markets, an After School Club, twice weekly gardening sessions and beekeeping workshops!

The farm also operates a sponsorhip scheme where your contributions are used for feed, housing and any veterinary costs for the animals.  Click here to see a list of animals you can sponsor!



It was a delight to visit, even if was a bit of a grey ole drizzly day.  It didn't spoil our fun and we heartily recommend a trip.  Even if you are just a mad adult escaping the confines of your office.  In fact, especially so.







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