On Saturday 15th March 2008, the Apiary was opened to the public for the first time. It was a big success and with the hive up and running you can come in and see the bees working for yourselves. An apiary is a place where bees are kept. Our Apiary at Wellgate is a building in front of the bee hives. It has a large glass window which allows visitors to see the hives and the bees flying in and out, without disturbing the bees and without having to put on a bee suit!
The Wellgate Apiary has just been completed, and is a great place in which to view our bees and also to learn some more about how the bees live and how the hives work. If you would like to find out more information on bee keeping and The British Beekeepers Association please follow the link on the left.
Chickens & Turkeys
Chickens The Farm has several different breeds of chicken which provide the eggs for incubating both at the Farm and in the Hatch Packs which go out to schools. If you visit the Farm during the spring you may see some of the chicks hatched from these chickens.
Rhode Island Reds were originally developed in America. They are a deep-red feathered chicken which lays brown eggs.
Light Sussex chickens are white feathered birds with black patterning around the neck and in the tail which lay brown eggs. They were originally developed in Sussex in England.
Silkies are a fancy breed of chicken that has very fine, downey feathers, feather legs and feet and blue-tinted skin. They come in white, black and golden varieties.
The Farm currently has two turkeys, a stag (male) named E-bay and a female called Google. E-bay is a Bourbon Red Turkey and his female is a Norfolk Black Turkey.
Bourbon Red Turkeys are thought to have originated in the USA. The Bourbon Red has red colored feathers with black margins over its body. The feathers on the edges of the wings and on the tail are white and there is a brown stripe running around the tail feathers.
Norfolk Black Turkeys are also known as the Black Spanish Turkey. Norfolk Blacks have black feathers with some white markings on them, including white edging.
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs
The Rabbits and Guinea Pigs live in the Farm’s Rabbit Shed. During the good weather they spend the day outside in their runs.
There are four Guinea Pigs at the Farm, all female. Pepper, Galaxy, Baby Mo, and Lady.
Amongst our guinea pigs there are two different breeds. Galaxy and Pepper are Abyssinians. Baby Mo and Lady are the progeny of Galaxy and are Abyssinian-American crested crosses.
Ducks & Geese
The Ducks and Geese live around the Duck Pond at the Farm.
There are many ducks at the Farm, some are pure breeds and others are cross-bred.
Indian Runner ducks have a long neck and upright posture which was originally developed in Bali. This characteristic stance causes them to run rather than waddle. Runners come in many different feather colors and are very prolific egg layers, laying large blue eggs.
Silver Appleyard ducks were developed in England and are a heavy breed which lay large blue eggs. The ducks are silver-white and fawn in color, and the drakes have a green head and neck and a white and fawn throat.
Call ducks are a bantam duck breed. They are very noisy ducks, always quacking, and are also good flyers! Our pair are called Donald and Daisy.
Muscovy ducks are a large breed of duck which originate from a tree-climbing wild duck. This is dissimilar to all other domestic ducks which trace their ancestors back to Mallards. Our Muscoveys are called Mr. and Mrs.
Geese The Farm has two breeds of Goose: Clyde who is an Embden gander and the Chinese goose, Mulan. We also have an Embden-Chinese cross goose called Christmas.
Chinese geese come in two forms, white with an orange bill and the brown and white variety with black beak. Both have round knobs on their beak much like a swan. We have the brown and white version at the Farm. They are very noisy and lay large eggs.
Embdens are a common breed of goose. They are large geese with snow white feathers which originate from Germany. Clyde quite literally landed at the Farm about 20 years ago and has stayed ever since!
There are two Nanny goats and a young female goat currently at the Farm. Angel and Aspen are British Saanen goats with white coats, and Willow is a Toggenburg, and has a distinctive brown and white patterned coat.
British Saanens are a large white coloured breed of goat, which originally comes from the Saane and Simmental valleys of Switzerland. They have pricked ears, a short coat and a dished face and produce a large amount of milk every day.
Angel was born on the Farm and is now our best milk producer. She is always very friendly and likes to watch what’s happening around the yard.
Toggenburgs are originally from Switzerland. They are a small goat with fawn to light brown coats with distinctive white markings on their ears, legs and tail and white strips down either side of their face. They have medium length hair except along the spine and on the flanks where it is long and silky.
Willow is both the newest and the youngest nanny goat in the Goat shed having only arrived at the Farm in 2005. She is a little shy, but is very clever- since being at the Farm she has learnt to undo bolts in order to open gates!
Things are changing on the pony front at the Farm. We used to have two very different ponies at the Farm. Dingle is the smaller but older of the two- he is a Shetland Pony. Ruby is a Hackney cross pony and has a beautiful skewbald (brown patches on white) coat. Despite their differences these two were practically inseparable!
However, due to Ruby’s age and back problems it was decided that she deserved retirement. Now that Ruby has gone to the Horses Trust, Dingle is having a break at Lambourne End Outdoor Centre so that he can have company of other ponies.
Shetland Ponies are originally from the Shetland Isles and are very strong for their size. Averaging 101 cm (40 inches) in height they are too small to be measured in hands like most ponies. Dingle arrived at the Farm after Ruby (see below), but is believed to be slightly older than her. We are unsure as to exactly how old he is. Despite his size he can pull heavy weights and is also very good for young children to ride. Dingle loves his food but because he’s prone to laminitis he has to be kept on a strict diet! His favourite trick is to roll in the mud just after he’s been groomed. Dingle is currently at Lambourne End Outdoor Centre to give him some company now that Ruby has been retired to the Horses Trust.
We will be getting a new horse/pony at the Farm to replace Ruby (although she left very large horse-shoes to fill!) and as a friend for Dingle.
Ruby: Retired to the Horses Trust
After many years of hard work at Wellgate it was decided in 2008 that due to Ruby’s advancing age and back problems it would be in her best interests if she was retired. And so early January 2009 Ruby went off to the Horses Trust for a well earned rest to live out the rest of her life. Ruby was such a big part of Farm life that we thought it would be appropriate to add this page of memories of Ruby’s time at Wellgate. We will collect some stories from staff old and new as well as from volunteers who have worked with her and add some photos too. Of course we will also add updates of how she settles in at the Horses Trust and any news we have of her. Ruby came to the Farm in 1988 in poor condition and pregnant. She gave birth to a filly named Crystal, who has now grown up into a beautiful pony and has had a foal of her own that is called Paddy. Ruby has beautiful blue eyes (known as wall eyes) and skewbald markings. She loves a good gallop and roll in the fields, especially when she’s just been groomed!
There are two pigs at the Farm, called Maori and Kiwi. Maori is a Kune Kune pig which originates from New Zealand and … is a Gloucester Old Spot.
Kune Kune pigs are a small breed of pig from New Zealand. They have ‘piri piri’ or tassels under their chins and are completely covered in hair which can be a range of colors.
The name Kune Kune means ‘fat and round’ in Maori. Maori came to Wellgate from another farm when she was still a piglet. She has settled in well and now is best friends with Kiwi (except when there’s food about!)
There are two cows at the Farm.
Jessie is a Jersey and Jasmine is her Red Poll cross daughter.
Jersey cows are one of the oldest breeds of cattle, originating from the Channel Islands. They are small and docile and produce milk high in fat and protein. Jessie arrived at the Farm as a one day old calf. Her adorable face and beautiful eyes made her an immediate hit. Having been hand reared and so well loved she is very friendly with people and enjoys being fussed. She is very inquisitive and likes to know what’s going on around the yard.
Red Polls were developed from the Norfolk and Suffolk cattle breeds. They have a short red coat and are are naturally hornless. Jerseys are small, red-brown, docile cows which originate from the Channel Islands.
Jasmine is a very striking color and has a big personality. She loves her food, but due to a tendency to put on weight has to be kept on a strict diet! Jas is very friendly with everybody and every animal- when the lambs are born in the spring she makes it her mission to welcome them all with a lick.
The Herd at Wellgate Farm is made of up of many different breeds of sheep. Ma and her daughter Mischief are Suffolk ewes, these have a black face and legs and are the largest of the breeds we have at the Farm. Izzy is a Dartmoor, a white sheep with a curly fleece. Itsey and Bitsey are mules. Itsey has a brown face whereas Bitsey, as her name suggests, has bits of brown/grey on her white face.
The Suffolk breed originates in Suffolk and is the result of crossings between Southdown and Norfolk Horned sheep. Suffolks are one of the larger breeds of sheep and have a white fleece and black wool-free faces and black legs. Ma is an ancestor of one of the Farm’s first breeding sheep. Her name is very appropriate as she is the most maternal ewe in the flock.The Farm’s other Suffolk ewe, Mischief, is her daughter
Dartmoors or Greyface Dartmoors are descended from the local breeds of Dartmoor. They are a medium sized breed which grows a long and curly fleece. They are white with a woolly head and legs and mottled black or grey face and feet. Izzy has the longest and curliest fleece of all the ewes in the Farm’s herd.
Bitsey is a Mule, or cross-bred sheep. She arrived when she was a few weeks old with Itsey and they were bottle fed until they were old enough to eat solid food. As a consequence Bitsey is very friendly and will come over to investigate when people are near her field.
Bitsey and Itsey are the same age and can be distinguished by their face-markings. As her name suggests, Bitsey has a white face with brown spots.