Well, it’s been a while. Apologies to everybody. Unfortunately, the more work there is on the island, the less time we have to update the blog. I’ll try to summarise what has happened over here on Cardiff’s own Sunny Isle since the last (very brief) update (all the way back in July).
This has been a big year for farming on the island. Our three little pigs grew up fast, incredible to think quite how fast. They were wonderfully natured, well trained, and soon became island favourites. They were brought on to the island for two reasons, and they were great at both. Firstly; conservation purposes. Bracken provides great habitat for a wide variety of invertebrates, this in turn provides food for small birds and slow worms. It is however spreading slowly across the island. Traditionally we would pull bracken, but this doesn’t necessarily destroy the rhizome, and the bracken soon returns. Pigs are actually able to safely consume bracken, and will actively dig out the rhizomes. We used them in the lighthouse keepers garden, and as they grew bigger, we moved them into a paddock where they did a great job, turning the soil and destroying the bracken, only time will tell, fingers crossed that it doesn’t all grow back. Their second reason was of course food. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about eating them, but I knew that they had had very happy lives, they were happy pigs. I think it is much better to know where your meat has come from, and it’s important that the animal has been treated kindly throughout its life. And they taste delicious. One bite and I was sold. We used a local Cardiff award winning butchers, G & J Braithwaite to produce what I think are the best sausages I have ever tasted. All of the pork is now sold, but watch this space, we may very well get more piggy’s next year!
Our lambing has also gone very well, in fact out birth rate far exceeded our expectations, and we have moved our Black Welsh Mountain lambs onto the mainland to prevent overgrazing on the island. We will be selling lamb in January 2012, please get in touch if you would like to purchase any, you can email Sam: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wonky the lamb continues to grow, and at one point he seemed to be sporting a rather snazzy mohican. He has won the hearts of many volunteers and work experience students alike.
All of our summer volunteers have now flown the nest, a big thank you to all of them, Marta, Pete, Sam S, Chris, Ben and Jo, good luck in the future!
We have now been graced with so many new volunteers, Anna, Cally, Chris, Gemma, Sophie. Having so many vols on the island will hopefully help move forward some of our bigger plans. The Fog horn cottage is coming along in leaps and bounds, fingers crossed it will be ready to open to the public next year. Bob ‘The Builder’ Pugh has been busy sealing off the Victorian part of Driftwood and the Ablution Block, new windows and window frames (thank you Lee and the Flat Holm Society!). The Farmhouse has had a fresh coat of paint, our wildlife garden, despite the tenacious nettles, is definitely moving forwards.
Our pub, The Gull and Leek, or The Ghoul and Leaky Cauldron as it became during our very successful (and spooky) Halloween weekend, has gone from strength to strength. Rumour has it that even island staff visit the pub occasionally. Incidentally, a big thank you to Trina, Zoe and Lucy, who helped set the whole thing up! Thank you!
Below are a lot of photos, if you have any questions, please ask!
We are slowly working on a Welsh Speaking version of this Blog too, this can be found at www.ynysechni.wordpress.com.
The winter season finally upon us and we are already taking bookings for education trips next year. So, if you know of any schools, community groups or societies that may be interested in visiting us next year please tell them to get in touch soon! In the mean time we are busy designing new material and updating our Island education programme. We will be out and about in 2012, delivering workshops in schools but also appearing at local events so please keep an eye out for us!