Thursday, 29 December 2011

After Christmas

The last few Christmas trees left on Christmas Eve
The Christmas tree barn looks very bare and empty now that the rails have been taken away and the Christmas trees gone. Time now to sweep up, clear away the counter and displays and return to farming.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas turkeys and geese

If you've ordered a turkey or goose from Great Slamseys Farm, I'm delighted to tell you that they are now ready for collection.

We're open until 5 pm today and tomorrow, Christmas Eve we are open from 8 until 1. Follow the signs to the Christmas Tree barn - it's a different barn to last year.

And if you still haven't got your tree yet, we still have a few Nordman Fir trees in the Christmas Tree Barn.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Nearly sold out

The Christmas tree barn is looking very empty as most of the trees have been sold. We still have a few Nordman fir trees left, so if you're still looking for a tree come along to choose one.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

No shortage of Christmas trees

We still have lots of Nordman fir and Norway spruce Christmas trees in the barn. Our smallest cut Norway spruce have now sold out but we have some lovely little rooted in trees in pots that don't take up much space and can be planted outside after Christmas.
Outside it's a wet and miserable day but because our trees are in a barn you stay dry while you're choosing and you don't have to take home a wet Christmas tree in your car. So come along to see what we have to offer.
We're open Monday to Saturday from 9 until 6 and on Sunday we'll be open from 10 until 4.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas door decorating

Do you decorate your front door for Christmas? There's so many different ways to do it from getting out the glue gun and sticking shiny baubles to a ring.

Or making a rustic wreath from twigs and branches.

Or buying one of our ready made wreaths from the Christmas Tree Barn. We have decorated wreaths, plain fir wreaths, mixed foliages and six feet long garlands made from fir. Just hang them on your door to create a Christmas welcome.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Happy Christmas Bunting

If you're looking for something a bit different, why not hang some Christmas Bunting? I think this would look wonderful strung across a mantlepiece or along the shelves of a dresser. This year we're selling this bunting by Daisyley in the Christmas Tree barn alongside some more traditional wooden decorations.

Friday, 2 December 2011

caring for your Christmas tree

When you get your Christmas tree home and before you move the furniture to make space for a tree, which looked so small in the barn but now appears to take up most of the room, there's a couple of things to do if you want it to last until the New Year. So the tree can take up water, saw off the bottom two centimetres of the trunk and then stand your tree overnight in a tub of water in a cool place before you take it inside to decorate.

You can try to wedge your tree in a bucket or maybe even suspend it from the ceiling but the easiest way to display your tree is to use a Christmas Tree stand. So, secure your tree in the stand and put it somewhere away from radiators and fires so that it's not dried out by the heat.  If it sticks out too far, trim it back. Some people like to cut off branches at the back so that the tree stands close to the wall. It's your tree, so do as you please; the foliage you cut off can be used for wreaths and garlands.

And now you get to the fun bit of decorating the tree. At last.

To keep the tree in good condition, you should water it every day. All the stands we sell have a water reservoir though you have to be careful not to go above the screw holes with some of them or the carpet gets a bit soggy.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Buying your Christmas Tree

There's so many places to buy Christmas trees, it can be difficult to choose the best one. A good place to start is on the British Christmas Tree Growers Association website where you'll find a list of retail sites and if you live near Braintree then come along to Great Slamseys Farm to see what we have to offer. All our trees are displayed in our large barn so even on dark wet evenings you can choose your tree in a light, dry area. Wherever you go, make sure you take a good look at the trees. If they're in nets then it's difficult to tell whether they have a good shape and they may be second grade trees, which is fine if you're not too fussy about your tree, but not a good idea otherwise.

So find a tree that's the right height. You will have remembered to measure up first won't you? Check the overall shape; some people like a skinny tree, some like a wide bushy tree. Take your pick. When you've found a tree you like, give it a bang on the ground. A few needles will probably fall off but if the floor is covered with needles then put the tree back and pick another.

A good Christmas tree seller will put your tree through the netting machine so that you can transport it home and then let the fun begin.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Looking for a large Christmas tree?

We've just cut down a magnificent 15 feet high Nordman Fir. If you need a large tree, this is the one to have. On sale from tomorrow.

Nordman Fir or Norway Spruce Christmas Tree

Which type of Christmas tree are you going to buy this year?

Nordman Fir
The most popular trees we sell are the Nordman firs with their deep green, glossy foliage that hardly drops. You must expect to sweep up some needles, but you won’t get the bare branch that sometimes occurs with a Norway Spruce that gets knocked and brushed against. Some Nordman Firs grow very wide, but it’s easy enough to trim them and we also sell Fraser Firs, which aren't quite as wide as the Nordman.

Traditionalists still choose the Norway Spruce with their wonderful smell and a good compact shape. The downside is that they don’t hang onto their needles unless you look after them, which means keeping your tree well watered and not brushing past it too often. They are ideal trees for displaying outside or in a room without too much through traffic.

From 1st December we will be selling cut trees and also pot grown and potted trees with prices starting at £15.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Measuring up for the Christmas Tree

With December fast approaching, it's time to think about your Christmas tree. Before you set off to buy your tree, you need to measure your room. I know it sounds obvious but trees that seem small in a barn can look enormous when you get them home.

So measure the ceiling height and deduct a few centimetres for the height of the stand. What do you put on the top of your tree? Make sure there's enough space between the top of the tree and the ceiling to show off your star, fairy or angel rather than bending over the top of the tree and squashing your angel.

It’s a good idea to measure the width of the space as well as some trees are very wide.

We open for Christmas Trees on Thursday 1st December.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Looking for the Christmas Fairy

The local nursery school have been to get their Christmas tree. Every year they search for the Christmas fairy perched in the tree, which involves a circuitous route past the ducks and pigs and around the Christmas trees.

 After some searching and calling, the Christmas fairy is found perching in a tree that after a bit of measuring proves to be the exact size they need and "the farmer" wields his saw to cut down the tree and then carry it back to the barn.

After a little more measuring and debate about how the Christmas tree will fit in the car to be taken back to school, the matter is resolved by putting it through the netting machine.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Christmas tree shortage?

Norway Spruce
Did you hear this week that large Christmas trees are going to be expensive? Every year the newspapers seem to run a story about either a shortage of trees or an increase in prices and customers arrive at the farm expecting the worst, only to find that it's service as normal.

In October we start taking orders for large trees over 8 feet high that go to churches, schools and businesses and our regular customers who need large trees tend to come in the first week of December to pick out their tree as we usually sell out of the biggest trees by the middle of the month.

Most of our customers ask for a 6 feet high Nordman fir tree and we're going to have masses of those together with stands, wreaths, garlands and decorations. So don't panic.

To find out more about our trees check out our Christmas Tree pages.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

November jobs

We open for retail Christmas tree sales on 1st December and have spent this week getting the barn ready.

In the plantation, large trees have been selected and tagged for local schools and businesses and the first tree has been cut down and delivered. 

Meanwhile, Arthur and Albert the two Gloucestershire Olds Spots pigs relax in the autumn sunshine.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Chinese lanterns

Are you a lover or hater of Chinese lanterns? Yes, they briefly look pretty as they drift away on the night air. But nobody releases a lantern and follows it as it floats away so that they can retrieve it. It's just long distance littering.

We've been picking them up on the farm this week where they've snagged in the hedge or lie in the middle of the field flapping about like a giant condom.

And we check the paddocks to make sure there's none lying around for the horses or pigs to eat. Not nice to have a piece of wire rupture their insides.

In case you hadn't guessed, I'm in the hate camp. To find out more about the lanterns, read the e-petition to ban the use and sale of Chinese lanterns

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

hedgerow fruits

There are still plenty of rosehips, haws, crab apples, wild pears, sloes and bullaces in the hedges and though the blackberries are coming to an end, we picked some lovely juicy ones at the weekend.We've been making jams, jellies and liqueurs with the fruits and used some of the crab apples in our cider.

Monday, 3 October 2011

drilling wheat

The Ley was power harrowed in early September and left for the weather to break down to create a good seedbed but an unforseen hot, dry September made the lumps of dirt even harder. So, last week the field was rolled and then power harrowed again to break down the clods and over the weekend was drilled with wheat. The temperature was an unseasonable 27C and as you can see from the photos, it was a dry and dusty job. The field was then rolled again.

Meanwhile on Sunday the contractors moved in to clear the muck heap and spread the manure on Lakes Field. This morning the field was too tempting for Morris our fox terrier and he had a long and satisfying roll. He now smells very rural.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Albert and Arthur

Introducing Arthur and Albert - two Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs that we're keeping in the grass field next to the pond.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Michaelmas Day

Today is Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, a day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the start of the new farming year as harvest is finished and new crops sown. It is one of the traditional “quarter days” - Lady Day on 25th March, Midsummer on 24th June and Christmas on 25th December when servants were hired, rents paid and leases began and we still pay our farm rents to our landlords on Lady Day and Michaelmas Day.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

hedgerow fruit in The Ley

ley blackberriesley wilding applesley sloesley hawthorn berriesley rosehipsley hedgerow fruits

The hedgerows around the farm are full of ripe fruit; these blackberries, wild apples, sloes, hawthorn berries and rosehips are growing in the hedge alongside the footpath in The Ley. A delicious combination to make Hedgerow Jam or Cordial.

Monday, 12 September 2011

pests on the oilseed rape

5th September oilseed rape in Gt Forest

12th September oilseed rape in Gt Forest
The oilseed rape that was planted last month is growing well. The pigeons have started to feed on it so a couple of gas guns have been put out to deter them. Our other main pest is horse riders who have decided that it would be good fun to ride across the oilseed rape crops. Why can't they ride along the public bridleway? Arrogance? Ignorance? Who knows.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

after ditch clearing in the ley

lighting the fire in The leyburning after ditch clearing in The Leytaking a breakclearing upburning

The Ley, a set on Flickr.
After ditch clearing the digger driver heaped up the branches and roots in the field and the stubble was cultivated around them to make a fire break. The heaps have now been burnt and any remaining rubbish picked up and added to the fires.