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Just in case you were wondering, I thought maybe an update from the squatters in my toolbox might be nice…

A thrush moved in a few weeks ago and built a nest whilst I wasn’t looking. To start with she would fly off whenever I went in the shed, but after a while she just looked at me in a very disgruntled fashion.

I still thought she might be a bit too disturbed to hatch and raise the chicks, but I was really glad to be proved wrong.

fledging 1

To start with I didnt see the chicks much as she was keeping them warm, but as the days went by and they got bigger she was often out feeding, so I got to see them grow.

fledging 2

It didn’t take long for them to fill the nest. They were definitely staring at me as well, wondering what on earth I was doing in their shed.

Then last week it came time for them to fly the nest. I was really lucky and just happened to go into the shed to fetch some sheep feed at the exact time they were fledging. As I walked in I saw the last of them hop out of its nest and perch on the edge of the tool box.

fledgling 3

It had a brief look around, and then flew off and perched on an old hay bale in the corner. I left them too it, I am so pleased they made it, and will be listening out for their song in that corner of Swan Barn Farm.

Elsewhere we have been busy sawmilling some oak for our collegues elsewhere on the South Downs. They brought over some timber that had come down in the winter storms, and we cut it for them into posts, parts to make benches and a whole list of other useful planks for them.

milling oak

Our mill is going to be busy again in the coming weeks as we will be starting to work on preparing timber for a new building at Swan Barn Farm. Last week we had great news as our application for Planning Permission for an Orchard House had been approved by the council. The idea is put put up a structure for our apple press and scratter, to house our community apple pressing days and provide a small apple store, potting shed and workshop space to help us run our orchard, beehives and veg garden. The orchards at Swan Barn are looking wonderful in the spring sunshine, I am so proud of them. They offer a home for many rare varieties of fruit tree and wildlife, offer opportunities for local people to get involved in the countryside and provide sustainance for the table and the soul in the form of apples for cooking, eating, storing, juice making and cider. The Orchard House will give a centre and home to all these activities, as well as an opportunity for our staff and volunteers to hone their green woodworking skills. I am really looking forward to the project… Much more to come on this hopefully over the course of this year.

First job though was to make the pegs. We will be using a green roundwood frame again, and we need to hold this together with seasoned oak pegs. We needed to mill the blanks to make the pegs out of so they could dry properly before being used to hold our timbers together.

Milling pegs

Its a small start, just a few sticks really, but they mark the beginning of a project that we hope will sustain and support our orchards. I am really looking forward to seeing it all unfold.

The sheep that graze the orchards at Swan Barn Farm were due this week. No sign of lambs yet, but new life is obviously in the air, as… there’s a thrush nesting in my toolbox!


The toolbox is in the shed where I keep all of my shepherding gear. I went in there the other evening to get some feed for the sheep and nearly jumped out of my skin when a mass of flapping, feathers and crossness took off right by my side.

What a place to choose to lay her eggs! I left the toolbox near the shed window a few weeks ago and I guess the thrushes have been quietly nest building behind my back ever since. It is actually pretty quiet, nobody really goes in there apart from me, and because it’s near the window it is a nice warm spot.

I think the poor thrush was just as startled as me, but she came back to her nest as I regained my composure and quietly backed out of the shed.

We seem to be getting used to each other now. For the first day she took off when I went in to fetch bits and bobs, but came back pretty quickly to her beautiful eggs, now she just stays on the eggs and gives me a bit of a look.

eggs in toolbox

I hope she manages to raise her chicks, its rather nice seeing her there whenever I go to fetch stuff. Funny the things you find in your toolbox sometimes.



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