Happy new year! Last year was a good one for us, with 25% more students attending the courses than in 2009, and many days completely full, so we are looking forward to more of the same. Something else to look forward to is the arrival of Tim & Sophie's prize-winning English Longhorn cattle, now that the fields have all been fenced in for them. This is a move encouraged by the Higher Level Stewardship agreement and will be of benefit to local wildlife. We have also set up a small "landshare" scheme, so the area behind the tractor shed (the classroom) is fenced against rabbits and will provide four plots for local people.
So what's new in 2011? Well, on Sunday 6 February there is a one-day chainsaw course for amateurs. Neil Reekie, who examines the professionals, is going to show you how to maintain and especially how to sharpen the saw, tree-cutting techniques and how to use the chainsaw safely and what equipment you need. This type of course is usually aimed at professionals, is expensive and takes several days.
Then there is Loom Weaving and Fabric Design with Janet Phillips, who has written books on the subject, a five-day course, also in February, which includes a visit to Jason Collingwood's studio. The Working with Birds of Prey courses were filled very quickly, but you could go on the reserve list. Jane Sen, a well-known cookery writer and former advisor to the Penny Brohn Bristol Cancer Care Centre, is doing a one-day Cooking for Health course in March. And the same weekend Daniel Kenning will guide you through the maze of energy conservation, especially what is worth spending money on and what is not, i.e. photovoltaic panels, ground source heat pumps, wood chip boilers, wind-power etc. We have two ground source heat pumps here at the mill that you can see working.
In the autumn Robert Bucknell will be holding a one-day course on humane fox control (he has written two books on the subject) and Paul Keyland will explain and demonstrate rabbit-control in the form of ferrets and ferreting.
Our more popular courses will be held as usual. Please have a look at the website, www.assingtonmill.com, for full details and dates.
Look forward to seeing you again in 2011.