Cogges Springs to Life

Spring is here, and we've all been enjoying the cheery sight of snowdrops, daffodils and spring flowers brightening up the rainy days. It's exciting to be open to visitors after the short closure over the colder winter months, and the farm is now bustling with activity as we head towards Easter and (hopefully) sunshine. Joining the Nubian and Pygmy goats, Shetland ponies, Cotswold sheep, hens, ducks and farm cats, Oxford Sandy & Black pigs are baby giant rabbits and Guinea pigs, plus Norfolk bronze turkeys who are busy exploring their new home.

There's lots to do over the Easter holidays – meet the spring chicks, go on an Egg Hunt in the stable, try fun family craft activities (dates and times vary), ride on toy tractors, enjoy the adventure play fort with zip wire, explore the meadow with Cogges Explorer backpacks, and lots more.

We have a fantastic programme of family friendly events, fairs, theatre and more coming up – see what's on in 2024!

As always, we're incredibly grateful to the many volunteers who support our small team to look after the farm. So, get comfy with a cuppa, and read on to find out what's been happening behind the scenes at Cogges.

Gardens and gardeners

The Garden Team of volunteers have been busy growing flowers and food in the walled garden, with lots of produce coming to the Cogges Kitchen café and shop over the season. Along with looking after veg, vines, fruit in the orchard and more, we now have a new volunteer floristry group to focus on cut flowers (in season) and growing flowers and foliage for drying, who are busy ordering and growing the seeds. On Mother's Day, our flowers and posies proved very popular with visitors. The grounds are full of spring flowers and dancing daffodils, appreciated by all (even the cats!).

Cogges' Craft Team

Join the Cogges' Craft Team volunteers for their pre-Easter stall sale on Saturday & Sunday 23 & 24 March, 11am-3pm in our café courtyard. Unique hand-made decorations, gifts and toys from knitted spring bunnies, chicks and painted eggs, to baskets, bunting and more. No ticket required; proceeds go to Cogges Manor Farm.

You can often see the team working on traditional crafts in the kitchen, particularly on Wednesdays. Many visitors say they remember their mothers or grandmothers making rag rugs, and the team might also be peg-weaving, using wool from the Cogges sheep. 

Community projects

We have some exciting plans for the Witney Remembers project. Our team of research volunteers have been working on ideas for dramatic portrayal of some of the stories, talks for local community groups and a giant snakes and ladders game showing farming through the ages. See the amazing Cogges Tapestry panels in the Barn when you next visit!

Animal Antics, by Kirsty, Farm Manager

Winter on the farm is always a little tricky – being located so close to the river our land is poor draining and prone to flooding. For this reason the goats have been (temporarily) moved to the yard so we can provide them with shelter and a space where their feet can dry off. This is common practice on many farms and is a much better option than trying to treat painful foot rot and infections. We’re sure they’ll be back in the field and meadow very soon! Whilst the goats are being kept in, we have been resting as much of our land as possible, making good use of areas not usually grazed. This has given our paddocks time to cleanse. As I write this it is raining yet again but I am hopeful with spring on the way we should start seeing better conditions soon.

In preparation for spring/ Easter we have four new baby Guinea pigs, and families will be able to leave name suggestions! We also have two baby Continental Giant rabbits, quite small now but they will weigh around 25lbs once fully grown. The new Norfolk bronze turkeys have been introduced to life outside in the paddock, but it seems that this is not enough for the girls who are regularly escaping and exploring everywhere that they are not meant to be, including visiting the shop and manor house. I’m hopeful they will get bored of this once they have explored everywhere! Shetland ponies Toffee and Treacle are enjoying their new spacious quarters in the stable. We'll hatch spring chicks in time for Easter, and bring lots of smiles to little faces. Join us for Meet The Animal Sessions at 11am and 2pm at weekends, and ask about food and feeding times at the welcome desk.

On the Farm, with Luke, Operations Manager

The manor house and grounds are prepped and ready for the new season, and we're looking forward to our new tractor 'naming ceremony' – watch this space! The new paddock is taking shape, and our Farm Manager, Kirsty, is currently planning its new residents. In the coming weeks we will re-open the Makers Room to visitors as part of our plans to open up more of the house. Larger planned maintenance projects have been completed, or are in progress, such as plaster touch ups and painting, mainly corridors and stairs inside the house, which has made everything look a lot fresher. We’ve had a number of new Land Management Volunteers joining us – ongoing projects are to rejuvenate the ‘moated’ island and install dead hedging along the river perimeter of the site.

The shop has returned to the ox byre, with gifts, crafts, our eggs, and fresh produce. The Cogges Kitchen café is bustling, and the 'Book Nook' is back in the café - have a read, with a cuppa and a cake! 

Thank you

Thanks to our resident volunteer photographer, Cereta Drewett, and to John Fisher, for photos; Cogges' team Guy, Janette, Luke, Flis, Kirsty and volunteers for updates. 

Thanks for your support. Cogges Heritage Trust is a charity and your visit will help to secure this special pace for future generations. A 12 month Season ticket is great value, with unlimited entry to the farm during the open season and discounts to selected events, why not buy yours now?

'While others shelter in the Volunteer Room for tea & biccies, stalwart Volunteer Dave Wheeler grapples through the driving rain to get post holes dug for the new animal paddock. Mind you... to be fair, he DID have some help!'

A Letter To Cogges...

We have spent most of the week at Cogges - it opened early this year and we were very happy and relieved! It really is a special place for both of us. It is exciting to see the moat full, making the island live up to its nickname, and everything looks so bare and open. But that spring sunshine makes the manor house and the farm sing. Goblin has loved seeing all the new things in the house, which is a relief as he often hates change!!

I feel so lucky to have it on our doorstep, as it offers everything my old soul wild-child needs. A wood, a quiet park, a river, ditches, farm animals, an old house full of history and old things, a café with ice-cream, and most importantly kind staff who treat him so beautifully. They talk to him with respect and patience, treat him like an adult rather than a child (he hates to be spoken to like a kid) and he feels SO comfortable and at ease there, which is an absolute rarity for him. He loves to wander about the manor house, listening to the audio that plays in each room every single time, though he must know it off by heart by now, looking at all the old books curled up on the sofa. He loves to check out the food in the pantry and pretend to talk to the narrator in the 'Green Room'. He loves watching the Francis Blakes' treasure upstairs and making the baby cry. He will check on all the animals and see how they're doing, especially Mary (the goat) whom he coos over and calls her his sweetheart.

Well, that's my love letter to Cogges!

Cogges regular visitor, February 2024