Gallery: Spring is in the air at Potsford Farm in Wickham Market

Carol Bird feeds a Shetland pony. The farm also has Rod Poll cattle, sheep and more

Carol Bird feeds a Shetland pony. The farm also has Rod Poll cattle, sheep and more - Credit: Lucy taylor

Lambs, puppies, piglets... even a goat is about to kid. It’s all happening at Potsford Farm, near Wickham Market.

Gemma Yardley and Rachel Day feed the lambs.

Gemma Yardley and Rachel Day feed the lambs. - Credit: Lucy taylor

Winter is over, the sun is shining and spring is definitely in the air. Set among the gently-rolling hills just west of Wickham Market, Potsford Farm is in an idyllic spot.

Farm manager Nathan Nobbs said the 200-acre farm is celebrating its fifth anniversary this spring.

“The farm has been set up as a care farm primarily for people with mental health and learning disabilities. Our ethos is ‘Grow, Inspire, Achieve’ and we do this with our co-farmers with education, exercise, social interaction and improving mood and behaviour through the therapeutic daily work of the farm,” he said.

Nathan, 38, is a former mental health nurse.

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He said the farm will probably mark its milestone anniversary later in the summer.

He added: “Co-farmers have the opportunity to take part in all aspects of farming, including looking after the animals.”

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And at this time of year there is plenty to do.

Nathan said: “We have at least 18 co-farmers a day and employ 22 staff. The business also includes community support, where we look after individuals with mental health needs in their own homes.”

The farm also includes a livery service and woodwork shop.

“Livestock we have here includes a breeding herd of Red Poll cattle, Shetland ponies, a donkey, a breeding flock of North Country Mule sheep, chickens, ducks, pygmy goats and Gloucester Old Spot pigs.”

With lambing well under way and 13 piglets born in recent weeks, it’s a busy time.

Nathan, who runs the farm with partner Kevin Frances, said: “We are glad winter is over and we have been very lucky with the weather.

“So far we have had 29 lambs, with a few more ewes yet to lamb, and 13 piglets, some of which we will be showing at the Suffolk Show this year for the first time.

“We are calving the red polls and more than 10 calves have been born this year. It is a lovely time of year. We are also bottle-feeding a lamb called Nancy, which the co-farmers love doing. The goat is going to kid at any time.”

In the barn, deputy farm manager Avril Askew is busy feeding the sheep while co-farmers Gemma Yardley, Rachel Day and Thomas Sempkins bottle-feed Nancy.

Gemma, 26, said she has been coming to the farm for about six months.

She added: “I enjoy working with the animals and getting used to them. I like the pigs.”

Rachel, 22, said she comes to the farm twice a week.

She said: “I really like working with the ponies ? leading them around and lunging them.”

Thirty-two-year-old Robin Vintner’s duties include looking after the piglets. He said: “I enjoy the opportunities for friendship and meeting people. There are lots of different jobs to do.”

Elsewhere on the farm it is time to walk the puppies of the Easton Harriers Hunt.

Nathan said: “We walk and socialise the puppies and look after them from the age of nine weeks to six months, when they go to join the rest of the pack. The aim is to get them used to people and horses and other animals.”

Nathan said plans for the future include continued improvement of facilities and continuing to increase the livestock numbers.

He added: “Animals are non-judgmental; they accept people no matter what their abilities.”

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