Tiffany Fleming is a volunteer at High Mead Farm in Longham, Ferndown.
High Mead Farm is a working farm run to promote the benefits of engaging with animals, soil, and nature. They ‘create purposeful roles for our co-farmers, young people and adults alike, to help bring about a sense of well-being and self-worth that many have never experienced before’.
Of all the upsides of volunteering at High Mead, my favourite is the opportunity it provides to spend time with the animals. Having been brought up in a farm environment it feels familiar and comforting to me, and I see how much pleasure the animals bring, even to those meeting them for the first time.
It helps that they are well handled and relish the attention they receive – although for first time visitors it can be a little intimidating being ambushed by an inquisitive brood of bantams, or targeted by one of the farm cats intent on finding someone to make a fuss of them.
There is something very special about the energy each animal brings; the quiet contemplative mood of the big pigs who, if they do move, do so at sloth-like speed, or the warmth and contentment of the hens when they are snuggled into their nests, brooding over a clutch of eggs.
Even the more active beasties, like the inquisitive ferrets, have a special something about them. My personal favourites are the little piggies, of which we have six; a wriggly, writhing, feeding drift.
(A group of pigs is called a drift or drove which perfectly describes their slow shifting round their pen, demolishing anything edible in their path.)
We are currently incubating our next batch of eggs, so it won’t be long before the Day Room is filled with little fluffy chicks, their soft ‘peep-peeping’ a magnetic draw to anyone entering the room, a calming sound of contentment.
On the subject of contentment, the recent sunshine was warmly received (pun absolutely intended!) by the majority of the staff, co-farmers and volunteers, although a few of the animals had to take special measures to keep cool – our ducks for example, who cleverly utilised the shade of the poly tunnel.
Plus, sunshine always signals the opportunity for Richie to crack out his tropical shirt of choice, brightening everybody’s day.
The team at High Mead have had more than just the sunshine and Richie’s multi-coloured tops to be thankful for recently, as two very generous donations have landed this month, the warmth of kindness matching that of the mini-heatwave.
Thank you, Joy and Grenville of Wimborne Methodist Church, for donating £1,250 raised during the recent Wimborne Folk Festival, the team very much enjoyed meeting you. Also, thanks to the members of the Don’t Worry Golf Society who, during a recent golfing tour, raised £1,200 for the farm! Happy days indeed.
How lucky are we to have enjoyed such a positive start to summer, particularly when we know times are tough and the cost of living is impacting not just on those who give generously, but on all the hardworking charities locally, many of which have only just started to recover from the effects of Covid.
We count ourselves very fortunate indeed for the fabulous support we receive.