Farewell 2020!

2021 has arrived but sadly the uncertainties around Covid 19 haven’t really eased. There are elements of hope – the vaccine and the spring bulbs are appearing in the garden. We have made a plan for 2021 in the hope that we will soon be able to open our doors.

Lockdown for the third time accompanied lockdown for our chickens too, for them the threat is that of Avian bird flu in England once again. We moved them all indoors, finding them a large space at one end of the hay shed. They seem comfortable in their new surroundings, with repurposed cardboard boxes for nesting and pallets for perches. Considering the cold weather they look cosy and happy and recently confirmed this by laying more of the best eggs ever!

Christmas at Gruff was certainly quiet in comparison to usual. We were unable to run our Christmas wreath making workshops and our mini farmer Christmas special. At times like this we have to be prepared to adapt and develop new ideas which led to the creation of the Gruff Christmas craft box – a little part of Gruff Christmas in a box!  This new idea was well received and we are building on this concept, so look out for our next craft/activity box coming soon!!

Farmer John produced lots of lovely Christmas wreaths, selling them from the farm gate in his new upcycled horse box which looked magnificent full of handcrafted Christmas decorations, for sale alongside vegetables and Messuage farm apple juice and sparkling with warm, Christmas lights. Our farm was decorated with Christmas lights more than ever this year, we hoped that it would put a smile on the faces of passers by.

Here’s hoping that we will see you all very soon. Take care.

Thank you for your support.

We can’t believe that we are now in the run up to Christmas! The trees are beautiful autumn shades of gold, russet and crimson. Farmer John’s flowers in his cutting patch have come to an end and he is now preparing for gathering fresh evergreen foliage to make Christmas posies and door wreaths, along with handmade wooden festive decorations. All these items will be on sale from our farm gate in the coming months.
After the year we have all encountered and are all still battling through it is important to support local small scale businesses. Here at Gruff Outdoor Learning we were so thankful to be able to open our doors to our mini farmer groups in August, albeit a smaller group of 12 children creating a ‘bubble’ group on both mornings and due to high demand we added a Tuesday morning too. The Tuesday morning is now here to stay! September arrived and we were able to begin our new 7 week term, again with restrictions in place and limited numbers, which we just managed to complete before lockdown was upon us all once again. We made a few changes to our schedule and focused on being outdoors which after all is what we are all about. We set out bales of hay on our back field near to our animals for seating and gave every family there own ‘craft bucket’ . We had lots of fun and the weather was pretty kind to us. I know that regular visitors to our mini farmer sessions are missing the jammy toast and apple juice.
Sadly Christmas at Gruff this year will be a quiet one. So as not to disappoint too much we have had an idea! We have created a Gruff Christmas craft box – inside there are a couple of crafts to make, including all the materials, something to grow, more ideas for getting creative with all those Christmas card envelopes and we’ve created a cute little Christmas poem too.
Finally, the Gruff team would like to thank you all for your continued support during this difficult time, we hope that we were able to provide a safe place to escape in the fresh air, animals are such a great distraction! Don’t forget that our tickets for mini farmers sessions starting in February will go on sale in January 2021! Take care Gruff friends.


It’s a strange world!

February 2020 saw the start of a new term of Mini Farmers after our winter break, little did we know that at this point in time we would be closed again before the end of the first term! Covid-19 has brought about huge changes for everyone, here at Gruff we decided to continue our weekly stories, crafts and farm/countryside themes through our Facebook page. I had to combat my fears of being filmed! We are now 10 weeks in to lockdown and we hope we are providing you with a little bit of fun during these difficult times. Our animals are such a huge comfort to us and I’ve realised just how much I love having them in my life. We sadly said goodbye to one of my loveliest friends Maris, the very special pygmy goat who was a huge part of Gruff, we will miss him immensely and we know the Mini Farmers will do too. We have been cheered up by the arrival of the cutest baby kid goats, two baby pygmy goats and ten baby Boer goats including two lots of triplets! The beautiful weather has enabled us all to be outside where possible and take time to appreciate the amazing natural world around us. We have heard a cuckoo, watched barn owls and spotted peacock butterfly caterpillars. We must continue to love and protect this even when life returns to normality. We look forward to a time when we can finally see all our Gruff friends again! Stay safe.


Happy new year!

They say time flies when you are having fun!

Our final term of mini farmers for 2019 began in September, this has to be my favourite term, so much to investigate, explore and gather. We harvested blackberries and apples, gathered conkers and colourful, crunchy autumn leaves. Farmer John harvested his homegrown pumpkins, all sizes, shapes and colours…even a massive prize winning specimen!

The weather has been a challenge! Gruff Halloween had to be postponed due to the lane turning into a river! Fortunately the following day was a dry, sunny one and we had a fabulous, fun morning stirring up a witches brew, playing in the spooky Gruff garden, making spiders and webs and eating pumpkin cake and bat biscuits.

November saw the start of our annual Christmas wreath making workshops. We ran a couple of garland making evenings too and new for 2019 a mini Christmas tree, all made from freshly cut winter foliage gathered from our farm. For a few weeks my morning walks with my dog included my secateurs and trug.  Jilly my talented florist friend lead the workshops and inspired attendees to produce such beautiful creations …it is so much nicer to decorate your home with something that you have created yourself, whilst having a fun evening with friends consuming mulled wine and homemade cake.

We had an exciting surprise at Christmas Gruff this year! Rudolph turned up on a quad bike in search of Father Christmas who was having a sneaky snooze in the Boer goat shed …apparently he had mistaken the goats for reindeer! Every child received a handmade wooden tree decoration to take home and they created their own beautiful twig stars and foliage decorations. One morning we even had a flurry of snow!

It was fantastic to host a couple of school visits just before Christmas, the children loved our new mini Gruff theatre with our homemade, simple Christmas themed wooden puppets. We spent lots of time outdoors meeting the animals, on a winter scavenger hunt and being imaginative, playing in the Gruff garden.

We are looking forward to another year of Gruff with old friends and new. Happy new year everyone!    

Summer so far…

The past two months at Gruff have been very busy! We have hosted many school visits including our largest of 47 children! We have loved inspiring the next generation of the importance of animals, British farming and the countryside. Don’t forget we can hold school trips throughout the year thanks to the trusty log burner in our cosy Gruff shed.

May and June have been months of growth here at Gruff, we’ve been planting seeds and making scarecrows to protect Farmer John’s precious crops (which are now ripe, juicy and for sale on the farm). Another of our themes was rain and the importance of rain to farmers (especially Farmer John!). We placed blobs of paint on to a sheet of paper and the children loved spraying them with water in order to create a colourful rain effect. On goat week we brought out Maris the pygmy goat for the children to see and they really enjoyed feeding him his favourite apple leaves. In these months of growth we have had many new arrivals on the farm, one of our other pygmy goats, Amber, has given birth to a baby boy who we’ve named Geezer, he loves playing in the summer sun! We have also hatched six ducklings and our Shetland sheep has given birth to a little lamb we’ve named Badger! Come along and meet our new arrivals we’d love to see you at Gruff!

Busy Spring at Gruff

April has certainly been a busy month for us all at Gruff Outdoor Learning! At the start of the month we hosted a nursery trip from a fantastic group of children and their parents and teachers. As well as meeting all our farm animals and enjoying lots of free, imaginative play we read The Three Billy Goats Gruff story and they each made a troll face and a goat puppet to take home. We are really looking forward to hosting more school trips in the coming summer months.

Easter weekend was warm and sunny helping to make our Easter Gruff a fabulous, fun morning. we introduced our visitors to some new arrivals on our farm – our gorgeous Boer goat kids who are sooo cute and our two beautiful french lop rabbits. we asked the children to suggest names for our bunnies and so we now have Raheem rabbit and Betty bunny!

The unusually warm spell of April weather brought farmer John’s tulips into bloom earlier than anticipated but we managed to hold onto a few for our Spring Tulip workshop. Florist Jilly demonstrated lots of ideas on how to arrange tulips more creatively than just popping them into a vase. We hope to hold more floral art workshops throughout the year, the next one will be in July using the cut flowers grown on our farm by Grown & Made. Get in touch for more information or keep an eye on our website for dates etc.

Our mini farmers sessions returned at the end of the month and we have also added our afternoon Stay and play sessions, a chance for slightly older siblings to join us for some free play in the Gruff garden, an opportunity to unwind after school. Jammy toast and apple juice and a cuppa for adults too!


Spring has arrived!

Our first term of 2019 Mini Farmers has come to an end. We have been observing the emergence of spring on our farm, our themes have included hedges, nests, eggs and chicks and this last week we were able to see  baby bantam chicks that had hatched during the week, tiny little bundles of fluff, full of life, strength and determination as they tried to jump out of the box! Mother hen has done an amazing job of hatching all of her seven eggs.

We introduced two new friends to our farm – Daniella and Shona the ducks along with their mate Mr duck who is lodging with us for a while, they are great fun to watch rooting for slugs and worms, they are real characters with their cheerful quacking and wiggling of their tails. We are keeping our fingers crossed that maybe we will have some ducklings hatching under a broody hen very soon!

At the end of last year Farmer John bought in a new billy pygmy goat, Bob has proved to be a real entertainer, he loves to head butt his space hopper and spring around his pasture, it is as if he waits until he gets a crowd to perform to, he is a little guy with a big personality!

The first tulips in our field are being picked for sale and in order to celebrate these beautiful blooms we are holding two Spring Tulip Floristry workshops this month on the evenings of the 23rd and25th April, come and join us for a creative fun evening, you will take home a wonderful tulip arrangement that you have created too. Tickets for this event can be purchased here on our website.

There is nothing more lovely than spring in the countryside…enjoy!

Recycled Sound Cubes


Last week we had an amazing three days working with classes form Prestbury CE Primary School. The children practiced their creativity, imagination and CDT skills working in groups to produce a collection of amazing ‘ Recycled sound cubes’ to take back to their school. Farmer John constructed hazel stick cube frames and the children worked in teams of six. Using collected objects that we find in nature or normally discard and throw away, they used their skills to assemble a selection of sound producing objects that they then attached to their cubes. Each group completed their mornings work by presenting their cube in an imaginative way to the rest of their class. This was incredible to witness! The originality and inventiveness of each group was inspirational, their cube ‘themes’ included Natural disasters, Nature walk and Stormy beach. Each day we ended by visiting our animals and feeding the chickens – Bob the pygmy goat provided some lively entertainment! And of course there was plenty of time for free play in the Gruff garden.

Thank you to the children, teachers and parents of Prestbury CE Primary School for visiting Gruff Outdoor Learning once again, we look forward to your return visit in a couple of years…enjoy your ‘Sound Cubes’!

Happy New Year!

Christmas 2018 was a busy, fun, creative one for us all here at Gruff Outdoor Learning. Our visitors to Gruff mini farmers Christmas had fun playing festive themed games and making Christmassy crafts to take home. We visited our animals and wished them a happy Christmas. The log burner made the shed feel cosy and the warm drinks, homemade Christmas tree biscuits and mince pies were well received especially by the grown ups! Father Christmas even made an appearance!… a quad bike pulled his ‘sleigh’ across the field where he greeted the children with a “ho ho ho!” and a handmade gift for every child.

Our Christmas wreath making and garland workshops give the grown ups the opportunity to get creative, learn a new skill and have a fun social time. Each participant took home a beautiful, individual fresh foliage wreath or garland that they had made themselves under the expert guidance of our florist friend Jilly. It always amazes me how the foliage, berries, moss and fir cones collected from our farm, with the addition of dried orange slices, cranberries and ribbons can be transformed into such beautiful and natural timeless Christmas decorations.

Loads more fun to come in 2019…!!


New term and we are feeling Autumnal!

After a fantastic summer with our holiday mini farmer sessions being full of new faces and familiar friends we are back this week for the start of a new 8 week term. We love this Autumnal term! This week we headed out into the field and collected some delicious, juicy blackberries. Back in the Gruff shed we had fun squashing the berries with water and making the most gorgeous, rich, deep purple/red liquid. We each dropped in a piece of white cotton fabric and watched as it absorbed the inky liquid and changed colour, a variety of lilac, purple and burgundy squares of fabric were pegged out to dry. In the meantime there was lots to play with in the Gruff garden including our new friendly milking goat and rustic, log tractor. Come and join our Gruff mini farmers sessions, Monday and Wednesday mornings 10-11,30am…our theme is ‘apples’ next week.