It’s been a busy few weeks!

Hi All,

We’ve had a busy past few weeks at Blue Barn, getting it completed and ready for opening March 12th 2018. It has been an exciting and fun journey and we hope that you like how we have completed Blue Barn as a deluxe rural holiday home for couples, friends and families alike! Each room is very different, we wanted to create a homely environment with quirky, interesting twists which are appetising on the eye. We are really pleased with how the country pine cabinet turned out, which is in the kitchen. It was thickly painted in a yellow colour, with several layers of varnish on, but we knew it’s home was to be Blue Barn’s kitchen and so we spent a day stripping it down, sanding and then waxing it, and the result is great; it adds real character to the place.

Kitchen

Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see in the image above, we have had a wood burning stove installed. It gives the lounge a real cosy feel and it’s going to come in handy in the winter months! Alongside the stove, there is underfloor heating throughout the kitchen, living area and main bathroom and the bedrooms have radiators in them. The local pub (The Full Moon Inn) also has a cracking open fire heating the place up during the winter months, well worth a visit for an ale or two!

Talking of heating, it’s been a cold week this week with some snow, and all the media hype of ‘The Beast from the East’ probably hasn’t helped! As you know, we are big into our wildlife and the birds are hungry and cold at the moment – we have loads of feeders out in the garden keeping them stocked up on seed, peanuts, suet blocks, niger seeds and sunflower seeds. They are getting through so much, we are almost refilling them daily!! We’ve also started to see the beginnings of mating behaviour, so spring really (hopefully) can’t be too far off now. There are binoculars and a garden bird guide in Blue Barn for those who want to take a closer look at the beautiful species that reside around here. The photos below show the recent snow, Cocoa (the black cat) came with me on the rounds this morning and decided to jump in the photo. She’s a very friendly, loving cat and no doubt you’ll see her when staying at Blue Barn.

Blue Barn garden Feb 2018

 

Wildlife shack (visible out of the Living Area windows)

Whilst it has been cold, the ducks are prolifically laying 4 eggs a day and the hens aren’t doing too bad either! We have just started supplying the local pub with some duck eggs each week so watch out for a tasty dish on the special menu including them. Our poultry flock are a fab bunch and full of character, if you would like to meet them, give them some treats and have chicken cuddles then just let us know when booking or at check-in and we can sort something out! (Please don’t enter the poultry paddock without Kate or Chris).

 

We had Larry the lamb Dec-Jan for grazing, along with his herd!

Local watering hole!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately Larry the lamb and his lovely herd of yummy mummies and Hugh the ram have now gone home, they joined us for a couple of months of winter grazing and Larry is the first 2018 lamb of the flock. They belong to some of our friends, and I’m hoping I can have a ewe and lamb back after the rest of the herd have had their lambs! Watch this space….

Happy reading folks, and hopefully we’ll see some of you over the coming year!

Best wishes

Kate & Chris

Creating the Garden

Sustainable planting and creation of the garden…

Blue Barn’s garden is 90% complete, and it has been really fun to create. We wanted to include quite a lot of factors to create a ‘well-rounded’ garden, such as being wildlife friendly, an appealing space to walk through in winter and summer alike, hold areas of interest, have a planted border, be secure to prevent dogs’ escaping, have two seating areas, have small lawn space for children and dogs, and have a few pot plants because well, they are pretty aren’t they?!

Pretty pot plants in Blue Barn’s garden.

As the area we had allocated to be Blue Barn’s garden and car parking space was just a lawn before, we had our work cut out! But lots of ideas combined has (hopefully) created a lovely environment to compliment the Barn itself. We have used hazel and willow fencing panels to offer guests privacy when using the garden, climbers have been planted and it’ll be exciting to watch them grow and flourish over the coming years. We have planted a fairly large flower border within the garden filled with wildlife friendly plants and spring flowering bulbs (I can already see the tips of some bulbs!); there is also a small Christmas tree! A garden bench sits opposite the flower bed, so guests can enjoy the flowers and wildlife hum that will be in full swing in spring and summer. There are two comfy wooden seats at the end of the flower border for guests to sit with a cuppa, and enjoy the garden on warmer days.

Planting up the flower border for Blue Barn’s garden.

When digging the footpath to the front door, a fair bit of earth was taken up and so we decided to use some of it to make an earth hibernacula. This is a dome of earth which provides shelter and homes for small mammals and invertebrates. Due to our rural location, we sometimes have rotten old trees to fell, and we have utilised some of this to create log piles for wildlife next to the hibernacula. We will be adding an old Belfast sink into the ground next to the log piles to create a small water source for wildlife, adding an aquatic plant or two to encourage dragonflies and damselflies! Wildflower seed will be sown in spring to enhance the wildlife area further.

Beginnings of the wildlife area in Blue Barn’s garden.

We love creating our own compost here, and have two food compost bins in our garden and three garden/poultry waste compost piles. One of our compost bins was located where Blue Barn’s garden now is and as it was too heavy to move due to being full of rich compost, we decided to use it to plant up the flower border – how satisfying! The plants will flourish from such nutritious compost and we had plenty left over to use in our garden too! There will be a compost caddy in Blue Barn’s kitchen for guests’ food waste to go into so that it can be added to the compost heap; let’s allow the biodegradable waste to biodegrade naturally and become useful hey?!

Fresh compost created from our kitchen waste!

 

Guests will walk from their car/s through a flowering arch with hanging bird feeders into the garden, along the wood chip footpath to the front door of the Barn. The front door is actually located within an open-ended shed, we decided to keep the shed as it is perfect for storing muddy boots, pushchairs, bikes, dog crates, wet clothing etc.

Happy days!

Best wishes

Kate & Chris

Fresh free-range eggs!

Anyone for fresh free-range eggs? We sell our hen eggs at the end of the drive in a cute homemade blue hut…. £1.20 per 1/2 dozen.

Guests at Blue Barn however will have a couple of our hen eggs waiting for them in the kitchen (subject to availability!). We also found some very cute blue egg cup holders in Newark Antiques Centre to sit them in! Picture perfect you might say.

Eggs from our free-range hens.

 

We have 15 lovely hens on our smallholding, 6 of them are re-homed ex-battery hens from The British Hen Welfare Trust. Each one of them has their own unique personality. The hens lay an array of beautifully coloured eggs, it’s always exciting to collect them at the end of the day and see the different colours! In the winter months egg production naturally decreases due to a reduction in daylight hours, however with the nights beginning to draw out and some much welcomed sunnier days, the girls’ egg laying power has started to increase!

Heidi or Peppy (our runner duck comedy duo) laid a first egg the other day too, its the first duck egg that has been laid since they joined the menagerie in autumn last year. Hopefully we will be able to offer duck eggs in spring from Heidi, Peppy and new recruits Edna and Bella!

Anyway, must dash – omelettes to make!!

Best wishes

Kate & Chris

PS. Does anyone know who has laid the two special blue eggs!?

Edna & Bella, rehomed ex-commercial ducks!

Happy Sunday folks!

It’s certainly a happy weekend for this pair, Edna and Bella! We rescued two ex-commercial ducks this weekend to add to the menagerie. Recently named Edna and Bella have come from a commercial duck farm for eggs, as the ducks get a little older (18 months old), their egg production reduces slightly, and they are  replaced with younger ducks. Generally the the ducks will go for slaughter, however some rescue charities step in and try to re-home the ducks, which is how we came across these girls!

 

We saw a post on Facebook from ‘Melton Mowbray Fresh Start for Hens’ informing people of the ducks coming up for rehoming and decided to add a couple to our poultry flock. We already have two runner ducks called Heidi and Peppy, who you will be introduced to later on…

Edna and Bella have never felt earth beneath their feet, the warmth of the sunshine on their backs, or paddled and swam in water, but that is all about to change! They have moved in with our hens for now, allowing them near the duck pond could be potentially dangerous as they are not waterproof at the moment. We have given them a shallow tray of water to dip their heads into and drink from, and once they start preening themselves and secreting oil from their preen gland (located near their tail), they will be able to waterproof their feathers and then we can let them have access to the pond, and join Heidi and Peppy for a summer of quacking fun!

We’ll keep you updated on their progress into a free range life, and those of you who come to stay at Blue Barn will be able to see them first hand!

Have a good week.

Kate & Chris

 

Fresh Start for Hens website:

http://www.fsfh.org.uk/

 

Why do we have a tawny owl in our logo?

Hi All,

When deciding on the logo and what to include, we couldn’t think of a better image than a tawny owl. Why? The local area is fortunate to be home to many tawny owls; we can’t remember the last time we didn’t hear a tawny owl at night!

 

We enjoy wildlife and aim to provide suitable habitats for them on-site, there are a couple of tawny owl boxes, a barn owl box, and many bird and bat boxes on-site! One of the new boxes we have put up sits overlooking Blue Barn’s garden, hopefully it’ll become occupied over the next year and you may see an owl swooping in. During your stay you will most probably hear them as they become active from dusk on wards! Barn owls can be seen if you’re lucky in the local area, and we have a little owl that occasionally makes an appearance too.

 

           Tawny owl box situated in a small wildlife wooded area on-site, can be accessed via a footpath.

Alongside providing habitat and nesting areas for the winged variety of wildlife, we also have a succession of ponds within our garden, which can be viewed out of Blue Barn’s kitchen and living area windows. Frogs, toads and newts have moved in since we started building ponds, and an array of aquatic invertebrates. The water sources also attract beautiful dragonflies and damselflies which can be seen dancing around the water in the summer sun! We love wildflowers and hopefully you will see them making an appearance in spring through to autumn, providing vital food sources for bees, hover flies, butterflies and a variety of other winged insects.

                                                  Red Admiral – Vanessa atalanta

We are currently in the process of making a small wildlife area within Blue Barn’s garden for guests to enjoy, currently we have an earth hibernacula, a log pile, a small water source, and wildflower seeds will be sown in spring. Guests can relax in their garden and soak up the wildlife.

More to come on local wildlife in the near future!

Kate & Chris