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Futurefarms - Martin Ltd
St. Hilda’s, Martin, Fordingbridge, SP6 3LG
Registered in England no. 5120703

Newsletter - Summer 2013

Introducing Alison

Alison is Futurefarms stock manager up at Martin Drove End overseeing the care of the laying flock and the fattening of pigs ready for slaughter. There is of course the daily routine of feeding, watering the chickens, collecting and grading eggs. Alison has the experience to note where things are not right and pick out any unhealthy bird. She is also conscious of the oddities such as the chickens who dislike laying in one of the huts, so first thing each morning there is a queue for the nest boxes in the other huts!

Support for the evening lock-up comes from volunteers on a rota basis (volunteer? - contact Rob Eardley) This task is best timed for when the chickens roost which can mean staying up late during the summer and making an early visit in the winter.


Pigs are Alison's speciality. She tells us they are a delight to care for and being sociable animals enjoy a bit of chat and scratch after feeding and watering. Our piglets come from market aged about 8 weeks and are fattened ready for slaughter at 20-25 weeks depending on the breed. The last batch were older than expected as Alison noted some hanky-panky going on and soon it was clear to her that one sow was in the family way. We needed a plan! Under Alison's supervision we embarked on 'breeding' pigs and the sow, Flossie, went through a perfectly normal pregnancy producing 'Jack'. He will be weaned and fattened to become wonderful Futurefarms' sausages!

We are full of appreciation for Alison's skill and devotion to the Drove End stock, and for her general concern for the efficiency of the whole enterprise. Alison dreams of Drove End fields being full of pregnant sows and piglets ready for fattening! Some dreams do come true!

Technology at Drove End

A solar powered electric fence is now protecting the Futurefarms chicken flock in the field at Martin Drove End. Ever since our laying hens arrived, they have proved to be adept at escaping from their pen. Far from being stupid, chickens are able to completely outwit their human carers by digging under the fence and by pecking holes in it! Clever as they might be at getting out, they are not so bright at getting back into the pen at night, leaving them vulnerable to the fox.

Now the fencing is electrified, any chicken pecking at the fence receives a brief shock. Chickens learn fast, and the fence has so far been 100% successful at keeping the hens in the pen. An added bonus is that any fox patrolling the area will receive a nasty bolt on the nose if it so much as sniffs at the fence.

Since installing the new fencing, we have also seen an increase in the number of eggs collected. It seems that some of the hens had been sneaking off to the nearest hedgerow to lay their eggs!

The fence is connected to a photovoltaic panel on the roof of one of the chicken huts and so far the sun has provided all the power needed. The system was designed and built by Futurefarms volunteer Mark Barnes. The fact that we now have a source of electric power in the field means that we have the option of using lighting to increase the day length in winter to help ensure a stable year-round supply of eggs.

Futurefarms eggs still GM free

With all the major supermarkets (except Waitrose) having recently ditched their ban on feeding GM crops to farm animals, it will become harder to find GM free eggs to buy. Even more worrying, supermarket eggs will not be labelled as having been laid by chickens fed on GM feed, making it impossible to avoid GM except by choosing to buy elsewhere. You can be reassured that Futurefarms' laying flock will continue to have a diet that is free from GM ingredients.


Seasonal recipes: Courgette Slice


375g courgettes
1 large onion
3 rashers bacon (leave this out for veggies)
1 cup of strong cheddar cheese
1 cup of self raising flour
1/2 cup oil
5 eggs
Salt, pepper
Chopped parsley to sprinkle


Grate the unpeeled raw courgettes coarsely. Finely chop onion and bacon. Fry the bacon and onions until the bacon is crisp and the onion transparent. Combine the courgettes, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper. Pour into a well greased roasting tin (base measuring approx 16cms x 26cms) and bake in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with new potatoes and salad.

Serves 4-6 people.


Spinach and Yoghurt Soup


Knob of butter
Small splodge of oil
1x medium onion, finely chopped 1x pinch cayenne pepper
1x heaped tablespoon plain flour salt and pepper to taste
454 g Spinach, washed
teaspoon dried tarragon
Approx 1 x pint chicken stock
1x pinch ground nutmeg
4x good tablespoons plain yoghurt


Melt the butter and oil together in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until tender but not browned. Stir occasionally. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, tarragon, nutmeg and cayenne, and heat until fragrant. Add the spinach to the pan along with the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, and simmer gently for approximately 15 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat, and puree in a blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. If you wish to freeze the soup, cool it as quickly as possible, and freeze and label.

Defrost the soup if necessary, or put the fresh soup into a saucepan and heat through. Add half the yoghurt and stir it through, but do NOT allow to boil. Taste and adjust seasoning once more and ladle into heated bowls. Divide the remaining yoghurt between the four bowls and serve.

Serves 4 people