Behind closed doors

Saturday, 19 March 2016
Drystone walliing for the new season

Neil and team with the new Cogges sign.

I'm a volunteer at Cogges Manor Farm in Witney. Every winter Cogges closes its doors for the season. Apart from the highly popular Christmas market and seasonal pantomime, the site is no longer filled with the happy sound of children playing or feeding the animals. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing going on. Cogges is a seasonal site and the animals still need feeding and cleaning out, the house and garden need putting to bed for the winter and the fields and grounds need maintaining and improving. 

From November until March, when we open again, our lovely team of volunteers are busy, beavering away, working to make sure that Cogges continues to be the special place we all love.

The woodland volunteers have been busy coppicing, trimming overhanging trees in the car park and painting furniture in the barn, amongst other things. It’s an ongoing project and there’s always something to be done.

Every Friday, with a few exceptions, our enthusiastic garden volunteers have been busy, pruning, tidying, weeding, transplanting, digging and composting, and are ready to go, “as soon as the weather says it’s time to start”.

Rag rug

Meanwhile in the dining room, the craft team have been meeting on a regular basis making items to sell in the shop and at the craft fair in May. Last year they knitted squares which were sewn together to create a beautiful blanket and this year they are planning on making a patchwork quilt. A rag rug and cushion cover, which ,with the help of the public, young and old, has been made over the past two seasons, is now on display in the Victorian kitchen, along with a list of all those who have helped.

Louis enjoying his supper

Although the pigs left us at the end of the season, there were still plenty of animals to look after. Jonathan, Louis and Timmy, our pygmy goats, the guinea pigs and rabbits, not to mention our rare breed chickens and ducks, all had to be fed and watered and given the occasional cuddle; yes even the chickens. The goats miss the interaction with the public and jump up every time anyone walks past the paddock. Or maybe it’s just the pots of food they miss!

Barbary ducks enjoying the goats climbing frame.

We have had two sets of Barbary ducks join us, four black ones and some lighter lavender coloured ones. The black ones are in the same paddock as the goats and have been making good use of the goats’ climbing frame. Even the Pekin family of chickens have been testing their climbing skills on the wall behind their coop..

Patsy and Clyde

Patsy, Bonnie and Clyde, the three farm cats have become a bit tamer over the winter and hopefully our visitors will see a bit more of them out and about this year. We appear to have a visiting black and white cat and rumour has it that he and Bonnie are an item.

New look for cafe

The café has been transformed, all the hard work of the new proprietors, Rob and Sarah from Coffeesmith in Witney and they are eager to welcome you to taste their locally sourced food.

Our new piglets

Well that’s a taster of what happens behind closed doors down on the farm. The Shetland ponies, Toffee and her son Treacle, have returned from their winter home. Two little sandy and black piglets have arrived. It’s time to open the doors and welcome back visitors, old and new. We look forward to seeing you.


Photographs:- Isabel's own apart from Neil and team which is courtesy of Cogges.


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