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Mantel Farm Newsletter - January 2017

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A Good New Year, New Blog, New Beekeeping Newsletter, and not so good NEWS...


We started the year on a crisp and sunny New Years Day and seem to have had more frosts in January than the whole of last winter;  Great news for killing all the bugs and pests hiding in the corners of the poultry housing, but not so good on your finger tips when topping up drinkers in the mornings!

Things seem a little quiet around the farm with birds usually out and about being restricted to smaller undercover pens.  We are lucky here that the marjority of our poultry is housed under cover, but there  has still been a fair amount of work juggling our outdoor flocks around to ensure all are as protected as possible.  With the Defra Prevention Zones remaining in place now until the 28th February our chickens and ducks are I'm sure getting a little fed up in their confined runs, so we are adding lots of treats to keep them busy and using extra woochip to keep the ground dry.  The recent snow was a worry as we have covered some of our larger outdoor pens with netting - fine to protect the birds, but not really up to supporting the weight of snow!  Thankfully only a little settled and it soon thawed... so, lets hope for no more snow this year and that the bright, cold days continue without too much rain!

We had some sad news at the end of last year, our goat Louie passing away.  He had been suffering for some time with bad arthritis but it was still a little sudden and unexpected, so poor Benny (his twin brother) is for now on his own until we can decide if and how to keep a stroppy horned goat company!  He has his tyre, football, lots of twigs and logs to eat and climb on and seems to be enjoying the extra attention he is getting, so please do go and say hello to him next time you are in our barn.

This month we launch our new blog - Josh has offered to share his knowledge in poultry keeping and will be discussing his past and present poultry experiences.  He starts with his poultry story so far, and will soon be posting about his efforts to keep his hens happy whilst confined indoors.  He will then regulary report on whats happening with his own chickens and our chickens on the farm through the year.  We hope you will find this interesting and helpful with your poultry keeping, please give your encouragement through commenting and asking questions.

Mantel Farm Blog - A diary of garden farming, poultry keeping and beekeeping courses

We are aslo launching a new newsletter for our beekeepers, Amanda who carries out the majority of our beekeeping training will be writing regularly about her bees, giving tips and advice along the way, so please sign up not only if you are a beekeeper, but if you are intersted in these busy little creatures.

Click here to read the beekeeping newsletter

Click here to subscribe to the beekeeping newsletter

This month Tim gives an update on the weather, Graham has provided a report on Mice and Ian mentions an exciting opportunity for a young gardener, with a job vacancy for an apprentice.  I am sure anyone who has met Ian will agree his enthusiasm and knowledge of gardening is amazing and so if you know of any young person considering this as a career please encourage them to get in touch...


This Month's Feature... The little mouse

Graham Burgess provides a local pest control service, including Bees, Wasps, Mice, Rabbits, Mink, Moles, Rats, Earwigs and Birds. This month he has written a feature on Mice:



Disease, damage and distress are our main reasons for killing pests.  Rats and Mice are among pests usually found guilty of all 3 'D's.

The house mouse lives almost exclusively indoors, and are much more inquisitive than rats, usually investigating rather than avoiding new objects.  They live in family groups of 4-9 usually dominated by a single male and can produce up to 8 young every 21 days.

Because of their inquisitive nature they will investigate new objects and food, feeding erratically at up to 20 different points a night.  Their greed and nosiness makes for easy poisoning and trapping.  They are mostly active at night and are very good climbers, because of this the damage caused by them can be a lot; they can gnaw through water pipes (causing flooding) electric wires (a fire risk) and then there is food wastage caused by their droppings, urine and cast hairs, which can greatly exceed what they eat!

It is best therefore to carry out regular checks and preventative measures to ensure you do not have many of these little creatures appearing!

For pest control services contact Graham on 07876 108434 or 01424 251222


Our Local Weather Forecast...

Tim Macpherson is a digital publisher and angling film maker as well as being an obsessed boat angler for over 25 years! So he keeps a close watch on the Sussex weather for both his fishing, work and of course his bees and hens in his garden.


Winter is well and truly here, bees are in hibernation (although on a warm day last week they were bizarrely active) and of course all free range chickens have to be kept under cover, and warm, because of the bird flu directive from DEFRA which is in force until February 28th.

The weather has been unusually clement, if cold, in the last month even if we've had the odd poor day.

Looking forward though, high pressure is likely to continue to dominate across the UK.  Sussex will have colder and brighter conditions, though with a risk of frost and fog overnight.  Unsettled and at times windy conditions are likely to spread south and east through the week, which will bring milder conditions.

Looking to February it is likely that Atlantic low pressure systems will bring spells of wet and windy weather, par for the course.  Temperatures will be average for February, though it will probably turn milder occasionally.  There is a possibility that an area of high pressure will become dominant again, towards the middle of February, bringing more settled conditions with the return of overnight frost and fog.

Let's hope we avoid snow, which usually causes such havoc. 

visit: - for local weather forecasts for sea and freshwater anglers
and: - Tims latest publication

Ian's Gardening Tales From the Weald - Winter Wonderland:

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a three man team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald.

Ians_garden_Jan17We have been rotavating the next phase of the new prairie borders.  They were marked out, measured and sketched up to plan during late summer/autumn.  I now have to design the plantings to compliment and mirror the previous borders.  We aim to plant a ratio of 70% grasses to 30% perennials.  I shall incorporate Peucedanum verticillare, Persicaria polymorpha, Cynara cardunculus, Miscanthus 'Starlight', Pennisetum 'Dark Desire' and Miscanthus 'Cosmopopitan' amongst others.

On a seperate note, we are looking for an apprencice to start with us ASAP, working along side me in the garden they will also attend Plumpton College on day release.  I have put an advert in Mantel Farm Shop if you would like more details, or please contact me on 07773 363096.

Ian Donovan:  Hips and Haws Gardening, Crowhurst


NEW:  Bi-OO-Cyst disinfectant

A UK Defra approved disinfectant for added protection against Avian Infuenza.  This is a dual action treatment to be used as a disinfectant and parasite control in one application.

Improve your bio-security by using this product both in your chicken pen and in footbaths.

1Litre dilutes to make 30 litres of solution, supplied with a handy measuring dispenser:



1 Litre bottle for £16.00



Special Offer: 2 Pecka Blocks for £5.00

A proven boredom buster, keep you chickens busy by providing them with lots to do; hanging a peck block will keep them focused and busy whilst providing both grit and corn...



2 blocks for just £5.00 (usually £2.95 each)



NEW:  Hotmax logs £6.85

As the cold weather continues these heat logs are a perfect way to increase the heat from your fire. They are a clean, efficient and sustainable fuel.

Hotmax logs are made from 100% natural softwood dust, compacted into dense briquettes, burning with low emissions and low ash residue...



Special Offer: 3 sacks for £15.00



Special Offer: 3 bags of Dust Mix for £7.00

With the wet weather and requirement to keep hens contained in their pens it is even more important to provide a dust bath area.  We are offering 3 bags of our 'special dust mix' for £7.00 - If you have not offered our dust to your hens before then now is the time; just empty a bag in a small area, step back and watch you hens enjoy...



Special Offer: 3 bags for £7.00, usually £2.95 each



Our first 2017 Beekeping Course is in just a few weeks time.

An evening course with Amanda, discussing what is involved with beekeeping and explaining a little about the biology and behaviour of bees, perfect if you are just considering beekeeping...


Beekeeping course

£68.00 per person


Mantel Farm Ltd, Henley Down, Catsfield, Battle, East Sussex, United Kingdom, TN33 9BN | 01424 830357 | VAT Registration No. 934 6204 31 |