The staff team arrive before the Co-farmers to sure that everything is ready for the day. They check all the animals and preparing the board with the jobs which need doing that day.
They will also spend time considering the needs of the farm and the group that are coming in. We plan what each individual will do, thinking carefully about whether they need to work in a team (perhaps this is one of their goals) or are they perhaps working towards improved independence. Who should each person be working with? What did they achieve last time? What could the next step be? Do they need any visual or written prompts?
Co-Farmers arrive at 10am, the day starts off in a relaxed kind of way, the kettle goes on and everyone spends a few minutes catching up, sharing and listening to each others adventures over the weekend or plans for the coming weekend. Even the farm dogs come and join the group for a bit of a catch up (or at least a scratch behind the ears!) Tea and toast is always available to those who missed breakfast as it’s important to keep the energy levels up for the day ahead!
The group leader allocates the jobs checking that everybody is clear about what they are doing, how it should be done and what tools they will need.
By 10.20 everyone is out and about working on the farm. The morning jobs are always the same and are all about meeting the basic needs of all of the farms livestock. These jobs include:
Milking the goats – using both machine and then hand milking. the milking parlor presents a good opportunity to work on overcoming some sensory issues think about all of the sounds, smells and add in the physical sensations involved with milking goats! This activity can also offer a chance for a spot of everyday numeracy, totting up how much milk has been produced that day and maybe even looking at average milk yield for the week!
Mucking out the stables – another sensory delight! The stables get mucked out everyday. There is quite a routine involved, Co-farmers may tackle the whole job or take on certain elements such as emptying and re-filling the water buckets. A fantastic opportunity for team work!
Topping up hays and waters – All of the animals receive fresh hay and water every day. Co-Farmers learn about the importance of meeting the animals basic needs, we use the RSPCA’s five freedoms to help them understand the animals needs.
Once all of the jobs are done its time for lunch, everybody has usually built up quite an appetite by this point. the first 15 minutes of the lunch break are always strangely quiet whilst everyone munches! Lunch time is an important opportunity for people to chat and get to know each other. Board games often appear on the table and the cards are nearly always out! We have even played volley ball with a giant beach ball in the menage. The social aspects of a day on the farm are hugely important to all.
After lunch it’s back to work, with all of the essential jobs taken care of during the morning it allows us time in the afternoon to focus on the animals a little more, or to have a go at some woodwork or even head up to the woods for a spot of bush craft. During the afternoon people may get the opportunity to groom and exercise the ponies, get in amongst the goat herd for a bit of TLC, get the guinea pigs out for a cuddle, exercise the dogs, have a go at lighting a fire in the woodland, get involved with fence mending / painting, tend the allotment or maybe help administer regular medications to our livestock. No two afternoons are the same and the activities are very much led by the needs of the farm.
At some point in the afternoon everything stops for a cuppa then on to the last jobs, there are certain feeds that need giving out at the end of the day, tools to be cleaned and put away, barrows to be washed, hays and waters need topping up and animals need to be checked on.
The day for the Co-farmers ends at 3pm, many get collected by taxi or family, some get the public bus from the end of our driveway. Once all of the Co-farmers are gone our team then get to work on tidying up the cabin, making notes about the day, planning for the next session, answering emails and if they are lucky having a well earned cup of tea!