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Tales from the Farm – Bees…in the roof

I love bees even more when they are in the right place

I love bees. That’s why we keep them here at the farm. Well,  I say “keep”, but in reality we’re simply guardians of the bees – they are wild animals and we simply provide housing benefit. However, I don’t love the fact that bees (not ours, I might add), have decided to take up residence in our roof.

Some weeks it does seem like this farm is testing the very limits of human capabilities. This week has been one of those.

After we discovered that our bore hole head was leaking (which is in itself an understatement – thousands of gallons of water are pouring out of a crack in it, which we now are in the midst of arranging to

Going Organic! What Organic Means 4 Months On

Behaviourist and broadcaster, Jez Rose, blogs about the process of achieving Soil Association Organic Certification for his Cambridgeshire farm and home to The Good Life Project.

Newly planted apple trees burst into life this Spring.

It’s hard to believe that its been almost 4 months since the inspector from the Soil Association visited us to make his initial inspection and help guide us to achieving certified organic status. So much has happened in that time that it seems so much longer – I had to check the date twice and rummage in my paperwork to find the confirmation letter as I didn’t trust the calendar!

We’ve made so much progress with the development of the farm that I’m sure Mike (the inspector) wouldn’t recognise the place – when he visited the site was technically a building site.

But it’s not just about our progress, having started with a bare patch of land, the impact of Spring was remarkable on the large bare patches of grass and soil. The blank, baron raised beds are now full of life, bursting with potato crops, shallots and garlic, peas, clover, cucumber, tomatoes, parsnips, lettuce, kale, asparagus and the fruits have suddenly sprung into action: strawberries, raspberry, blackberry, tayberry and apples – from bare roots, crowns, plugs and tiny seeds, we’re enjoying every day the beauty and magnitude of nature.

In the short time since we began this journey, I’ve converted

Tales from the Farm – Lessons Learned

“TV’s favourite gardener”, Monty Don, inspires Jez Rose, a frustrated behaviourist and amateur gardener, to grow a new life, as detailed in Tales from the Farm. Monty Don’s book inspired Jez to buy a farm in the countryside, create his own garden and write about the joy, obsession and mud.

The brand new training barn is finished! My favourite parts are the whiteboard wall and the wild flower roof.

It’s been 6 months since Mrs Jez and I moved into the farm and its also been a while since I last blogged with tales from the farm. That’s partly because every time it looks like we’re about to turn a corner and things are sorted and calming down, we face another major obstacle, or we discover yet another major thing that is broken.

The latest challenge, which is, frankly, putting it lightly, was to discover that our bore hole is leaking. A lot. The inspection chamber was

How to Train a Chicken (the real secrets of leadership, management and team building)

You learn so much about people, teams and leadership by training chickens.

Our new chickens, which we’ve named Chasseur, Casserole, Cajun and Stuart are bright, friendly and highly trainable. I’m talking distinguishing between different shapes, coming to you when called, playing the xylophone and even riding a skateboard – and perhaps more useful in your role at work, they can help you to create super switched on management teams, too.

Are they souper chickens? We like to think so!

I have repeated the phrase: “people shouldn’t be allowed children until they have first learned to train a chicken” many times. The reason is that chickens are pretty unforgiving; if they’re bored or you fail to clearly guide them, they’ll just walk off. There are plenty of better things for chickens to do than wait around for you to get your act together and work out what you’re trying to get them to do: pecking the ground, eating grain, preening, taking a dust bath, scratching my rose beds, chasing the dog, having a little bask in the sun – they don’t need you. If you’re in a leadership or management role, that might sound like a familiar situation.

If you want to train them to do the simplest of tasks, like

Tales from the Farm – Heartbroken

“TV’s favourite gardener”, Monty Don, inspires Jez Rose, a frustrated behaviourist and amateur gardener, to grow a new life, as detailed in Tales from the Farm. Monty Don’s book inspired Jez to buy a farm in the countryside, create his own garden and write about the joy, obsession and mud.

Our first loss at the farm; a beautiful female who died while collecting nesting material.

This last weekend was a little bitter-sweet on the farm.

The weather was glorious for the start of Spring; almost like a Summer’s day. That meant huge amount of progress outside in preparation for the bees arriving – there was a lot to finish in the jungle area and I was especially keen to get the last few plants still in pots from our move into the ground so that they could benefit from the warming soil and sunshine.

I was walking back to the greenhouse and

Going Organic! – Soil and the Organic Leadership System (I made that up)

Behaviourist and broadcaster, Jez Rose, blogs about the process of achieving Soil Association Organic Certification for his Cambridgeshire farm and home to The Good Life Project.

Every day something changes – the peas were not there yesterday but here they are today!

Our peas have broken through the soil, my garlic and shallots are sprouting strong and my potatoes (yes, the ones I planted upside down) are shooting! But something interesting happened while I was planting some more herbs up for our kitchen herb garden.

I’d been chatting with my good friend and fellow soil-lover, Blaire Palmer, about leadership. She’s looking to buy a farm to keep alpaca but don’t hold that against her; she’s actually really lovely. When Blaire left, I headed out to

Tales from the Farm – Before & After (so far!)

“TV’s favourite gardener”, Monty Don, inspires Jez Rose, a frustrated behaviourist and amateur gardener, to grow a new life, as detailed in Tales from the Farm. Monty Don’s book inspired Jez to buy a farm in the countryside, create his own garden and write about the joy, obsession and mud.

Since Mrs Jez and I moved from our suburban 3 bed semi to the farm back in November 2016, embarking on a journey to test my theories about how nature impacts human health, wellbeing and behaviour – and along the way going organic, so much has happened and changed: we moved into a plot of essentially just grass and concrete yard; a roof has fallen in; we had the worst bathroom fitters in the world ruin our bathroom; we found wood worm in the small barn; almost everything that could break, did break; the main electric cable supplying the farm was severed…

And it needs to be finished by

Tales from the Farm – Spring is here!

The first honey bee of the year spotted out (with his friend) on the blossom.

“TV’s favourite gardener”, Monty Don, inspires Jez Rose, a frustrated behaviourist and amateur gardener, to grow a new life, as detailed in Tales from the Farm. Monty Don’s book inspired Jez to buy a farm in the countryside, create his own garden and write about the joy, obsession and mud.

After a fair number of cloudy days, quite a bit of rain and some really strong winds, it looks like Spring is finally here. And that’s why I haven’t blogged from a few days because the weather at this time of the year really does dictate activity – juggling a busy writing and speaking schedule with the long lists of things to do here at the farm has always been tricky but with the new barn going up quickly, there’s even more to get done so e’re ready for our first training course in May!

I’ve managed to

Going Organic! An Inspector Called

Behaviourist and broadcaster, Jez Rose, blogs about the process of achieving Soil Association Organic Certification for his Cambridgeshire farm and home to The Good Life Project.

Irritable, soil-obsessed and socially awkward, the Soil Association inspector was not. Thankfully. I found myself getting a little bit stressed the morning of the inspection; double checking that there wasn’t any plastic that had been overlooked in the compost bin; going over the documents I’d been sent to complete to make sure I hadn’t made any mistakes and snapping at Mrs Jez for leaving a Kit Kat wrapper on the side – a non-organic chocolate bar! What would they think of us?!

As it happens, Mike was nothing short of lovely. In my last blog I said that our inspector was called Andrew – only a few days after writing that Andrew called me to introduce himself; he’s actually our “certification officer” (they all have quite militaristic titles, which make them sound much more intimidating than they are in real life). Andrew’s job is to help support and guide us through the process of becoming certified as organic by the Soil Association. Our inspector, who visits the farm and goes through our plans, paperwork, and site, is Mike. How can I describe Mike? Calming, professional, incredibly knowledgeable and experienced and with more than a little similarity to Michael Parkinson – and he loves

Tales from the Farm – A Little Bit of Cucumber

“TV’s favourite gardener”, Monty Don, inspires Jez Rose, a frustrated behaviourist and amateur gardener, to grow a new life, as detailed in Tales from the Farm. Monty Don’s book inspired Jez to buy a farm in the countryside, create his own garden and write about the joy, obsession and mud.

I cannot believe that having reached my thirties, I haven’t actually ever – as far as I can recall – grown anything from seed. How did that happen? Anyway, I rectified that this week and I’ve got something exciting to share with you, which could well cheer up your workplace, too.

Pots and seeds: the beginning of a miracle

Mrs Jez, Zeus and Marley (the dogs) and I all love cucumbers, so I decided to grow some in the vegetable garden. The seeds arrived this week and I found myself planting cucumber ‘crystal lemon’ seeds for the first time in my life into delightfully cute little pots in the greenhouse.

The packet I bought contained 40 seeds but I remember having a cucumber plant before and they are quite

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