beekeeping courses, beekeeping equipment

Mantel Farm Newsletter - May 2017

May 2017 Notes...

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Come what 'May'...

This year started so well, with many plans afoot, but then came the bird flu restrictions and a nasty business rate scare, both of which have set us back considerably, causing us all much time and worry.

However, the great news is we seem to have survived both for now without too much change for our business going forward, and things are getting back to normal (or as normal as they can be here!).

So 'come what may' we are as usual determined to continue to enjoy our little piece of smallholding life no matter what is thrown at us!

We can now continue with our exciting plans to make improvements around the farm as we have been lucky enough to get approval for grant funding towards the cost of making sustainable improvements to our business. This will include new energy efficient lighting, heating and an energy monitoring system for the barn, to enable us to make the most of our solar panel installation, so becoming as self sufficient as possible for electricity (let's hope the sun keeps shining!!). As well as reducing our ongoing costs we are really keen to work towards and promote a sustainable way of life, and so will keep you updated on how this is working out for us - who knows if all goes to plan we may even be able to get an electric van to offer a really sustainable local delivery service - so watch this space!

Back to the pigs and poultry:

With the restrictions now lifted in all local areas, its great to see your poultry again enjoying the outside life. Strict biosecurity should still be applied, but to the considerate keeper this should not be difficult - just keep the poultry run clean, disinfect regularly and keep drinkers and feeders out of reach of wild birds. More info and a link to the full Defra requirements are available on our blog:

Find out more on biosecurity...

We are all keeping our fingers crossed that we will be taking delivery of 2 little pigs before the end of the week!  They are well overdue and needed to eat down the undergrowth in our pig pen by the car park.  It will be great to have pigs back on the farm.

This time of year we are full to capacity with chickens everywhere, and sometimes we could do with clearing a pen of birds to make room for young newcomers. We are therefore offering a flock of Pekin hens and a flock of hybrids at a bargain price! Both need to be sold as a complete flock so as to free up the pen, so please see our offers for more details.

This Month's Feature: The Wasp...

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 Wasps...

Because of the recent warm weather there have been a lot of queen wasps sighted. This could lead to a early hatch of worker wasps and they could possibly start raiding bee hives. I have lost 2 hives in the past to wasps robbing them of honey and larva and so now as soon as I start to see the queen wasps moving around looking for a sight to make their nest I put out my wasp traps before they become a problem.

Making a wasp trap:

A simple wasp trap can be easily made with a jam jar and 2 spoonfuls of jam then half filling the jar up with water.  Pierce a small hole in the lid, then hang up near your bee hives (but not too close to make it an attractant to the wasps close to your hive).

If you do find a wasp nest: do not go too close without wearing protective clothing, because wasps are very protective of their nest and become very aggressive.

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 -

sussex angling media

After an exceptionally dry sunny (and lovely) April everything is gasping for water. Now we’ve had a very cold end of the month and this has slowed growth in the garden. Now we move into May and there are signs of a sharp rise in temperature.

However the tail end of the Bank Holiday weekend looks unsettled, with much needed rain. We may well be quite windy for many.

Tuesday will remain on the wet and windy side, but as next week progresses, drier, more settled and increasingly sunny weather should become established. Temperatures are likely to respond too with some places becoming very warm, but the main uncertainty is just how quickly this change occurs.

High pressure appears to be in charge during the middle part of May, with temperatures likely to be above average, possible very warm at times. It also looks drier than average, (groan) especially across the north-west of the UK, with central and southern Britain perhaps seeing some wetter weather occasionally.

Towards the end of May, indications on a particular weather type are less certain, with temperatures likely to be closer to normal; some pleasantly warm days but some chilly nights. Thankfully rainfall looks to become nearer average too.

The pigs are growing fast and two will be in residence at Mantel farm by now which is great. They are friendly and cute. Our bees are active and we’re just about to refurbish the hive which might be interesting. Finally one of our chickens has taken to laying double yolkers – even a triple yoke egg turned up on one day which was a first.

Ian's Gardening Tales from the Weald...

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

April has been full on and not ideal considering the lack of any significant rain since February and our experience of the driest winter for 20 years.

We must make do however and by applying a 15cm deep mulch of mushroom compost after a good soaking with an oscillating sprayer around plantings helps them to cope.

In our gardens, we aim to finish mulching by mid May but continue to pray for rain to aid out 1,515 young and establishing plants! There are, however, a wide & resplendent variety of spring flowers to admire cheering the eye and sharing a 'never say die' attitude that we too adopt during testing times!

Naturalised stalwarts are red campion, wild garlic, honesty, cow parsley & lords & ladies.

Wishing you all a very merry May whilst I return to my dance with feathers & tomahawk!

Ian Donovan:  Hips and Haws Gardening, Crowhurst

Special Offer - Flock of 9 Pekin Hens: just £180.00

Interested in a flock of Pekins?  We have 9 hens (& 2 optional cockerels) on offer for just £180: saving £120 (usual price £300).

pekin bantam hens

To be sold as a complete flock only, these bantam hens are this year's hatch, guaranteed hens, vaccinated and in the following colours:  1 Chocolate, 6 Black & White Mottled, 1 Buff, 1 Buff Columbian, (2 optional White Cockerels).

Please call us on 01424 830357 to make a reservation for this flock.

Other Bantams are available separately from our farm.

Find out more about our Pekins...

Special Offer - Flock of 5 Hybrid Hens: just £60.00

We have 5 POL hybrid hens (mixed egg colours) on offer for just £66: saving £40.00 (usual price £100.00). Option for free cockerel with this flock.

pekin bantam hens

To be sold as a complete flock only, these hybrid hens have just come into lay, are guaranteed hens, vaccinated and in the following breeds: 1 Buttercup, 2 Blacktail and 2 Skyline.

Please call us on 01424 830357 to make a reservation for this flock.

Other Hybrids are available separately from our farm.

Find out more about our Hybrids...

Quail For Sale: £9.50 each

Available Friday 5th May...

quail for sale

Our Quail will soon be here and we already have many reservations, so to avoid disappointment, we recommend you reserve your birds now.

Please visit our website to place your reservation:

Find out more...

Our Next Training Course: 
An advanced Beekeeping Day...

Book now to receive a 50% early booking offer, now just £49.00 per person!

advanced beekeeping course

An informal day spent with a small group of other beekeepers wishing to improve their beekeeping. Amanda will cover bee Biology and Behaviour, Nutritional and Space Requirements, Hive Products and Regulations, Important manipulations, Bee Health and Diseases. Where the weather allows this day will include a practical element around the hives.

Find out more...

Egg Decorating Competition

egg decorating competition

Thanks so much to all those who entered out Easter egg decorating competition, it's great to see there are still some creative, crafty types out there! The entries were great and can be seen on our Facebook page, the winning entry shown above, by Lewis, aged 5, for his Iron Man egg. Posted by Carly McDonald. Congratulations!

Click here to see all the details on Facebook...

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