Spring is well and truly underway here at Swan Barn Farm. The warm weather has got the birds singing in the hedgerows and the wildflowers starting to peek their heads above the ground. The hazel catkins have been opening up for a while now and this week I spotted the first willow flowers of the year. That always bring two things to my mind, firstly my daft collie who was named after the willow flowers I saw on the day I went to fetch her from the rescue charity, and secondly it makes me breath a sigh of relief for the bee’s. When the hazel and willow starts to flower I know the worst is over for them.

These bluebell leaves were stretching for the light in the coppice woodland where the oak for our beams and floorboards came from.

Just back across the fields I got this glimpse of the building.

It really makes me smile when I see the building across the fields or through the woods. I hope that is an effect that a few people are sharing in, and one that wont wear off for a while.

Work has been continuing apace on the building, last week the final verandah boards were screwed down.

Now its done I can really see what a fantastic space it is going to be for the people who live there. This side of the building is washed over with early morning sunshine, the perfect spot for breakfast.

On the inside Perry and John from West Sussex Carpentry have been working hard on our doorframes and skirting boards. We milled most of the last of our air dryed oak for them to use, I’m sure this project is a bit out of the ordinary for most people in the building trade, but they are coping with us and our sustainability concerns admirably.

There is lots of pipework to box in as well so the guys have there work cut out. The door linings downstairs are looking good already though.

This week saw another milestone for the project, albeit a bit of a sad one. Our Seasonal Warden Catherine came to the end of her contract and unfortunately has left us. I am sure we will see her again, and I know she will be going on to bigger and better things, but we will certainly miss her.

She has been here for about a year and a half, her first week was a bit of a baptism of snow, we were working in the Hazel coppice here at Swan Barn Farm and the only way to keep warm was to work hard.

The roads were so bad that hardly anyone was managing to get around, Catherine managed it though in her tiny yolk car, a sign of how determined she can be.

She very kindly made a present for us, a chainsaw carving of a Speckled Wood butterfly which we all thought was brilliant. I’m sure you know that the building was named Speckled Wood after the pretty little butterfly that frequents the type of woodland glades that have been created as part of sourcing the timber for the project. This afternoon I put it up in pride of place over the verandah.

Good luck Cat, see you soon!

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