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Ouseburn Farm

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This post is slightly delayed after my hospital stay – thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post. A couple of weeks back I had the opportunity to visit Newcastle for a couple days and the first place I wanted to go was Ouseburn Farm. I’d read that Ouseburn is a small but excellently maintained city farm in the heart of Newcastle, and as you know by now I am a huge lover of animals. Cows are my absolute favourite, and I had a lot of time for the two newborn lambs currently at Ouseburn.

The farm really is teeny-tiny but impressively maintained, especially where the larger animals are concerned. The layout really makes the most of the space available with the birds and pigs housed in a huge enclosure, whilst the cows, sheep and goats occupy fields during the day. The reptiles didn’t have the best cages but it was clear that the animals are well-cared for and handled a lot. The farm also has a lovely garden dotted with herbs, flowers and insect houses – if we’d lived closer I would have come home with arms of strawberry plants!

I’m a big advocate of city farms; for kids that don’t grow up around a whole load of nature the city farm is an invaluable place to learn and build some kind of connection with animals. I’d love to journey the country and check out all the urban farms – if you’re near a particularly good one then please let me know!

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4 Comments

  • Reply Denise

    Really beautiful,I loved your pictures! You are so right, city farms are so important, for everybody, but especially for kids – I remember myself as a kid, I used to go to the weekend farm house, but that was sheer luck – not everybody has this opportunity. And it was not very often, so I didn’t grow much with animals. I loved the rabbits and cows are also so nice! Hope you are feeling better!
    DenisesPlanet.com

    July 19, 2016 at 2:36 pm
  • Reply Jaina

    City farms are amazing. Like you said, invaluable for kids who don’t live around animals, so they can learn just where some of their food comes from.

    July 19, 2016 at 3:07 pm
  • Reply Libby (@libbyarnold94)

    Glad to see you posting again, hope you’re doing okay!

    I went to Ouseburn farm for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I had really mixed opinions on it.
    I stroked and cuddles the piggies and like you said, they had a lovely enclosure and they seemed really happy. They were doing what piggies do best, laying in muck and foraging in the mud for hidden treats. The sheep and goats have lovely fields too.

    The smaller animals were in poor conditions, imho. Rabbits and guinea pigs were kept together when they shouldn’t be paired together due to a variety of reasons. The rabbits also had the wrong sort of food which is high in sugar and bad for their teeth.
    The lizards were SO sad looking, in a tiny glass container lined with only newspaper and a bowl of water. Nothing to keep them entertained.
    Lots of the chickens were also missing feathers, but I guess that could be down to many different reasons so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt there.

    I’m just so torn because I agree children in cities should have the chance to connect with animals, and I also think it provides great community opportunities I just wish the conditions were better.

    I’m also feeling really bitter because everyone was cooing over the pigs and then queuing up at the hog roast van outside it. So maybe that’s tainted my opinion of it?

    I’m so sorry that this turned out to be a pretty negative comment on your lovely positive post. Looks like you had a wonderful day, and looks like you even managed to catch a rare bit of Newcastle sunshine! Ouseburn is one of my absolute favourite parts of Newcastle!

    July 19, 2016 at 11:27 pm
    • Reply tapeparade

      Hey Libby, thanks so much for your comment! I’m so grateful you took the time to write such an engaged comment – a lot of the stuff you mentioned I did originally span in my post but it was just so long. So I’ll articulate further in a comment back 🙂 I think it’s really good to discuss these things – animal rights are a really important topic. I’ve actually been drafting a post about animals in captivity for the last couple months as my views have really changed recently for a few reasons. Whenever I finish that I would be really interested in your thoughts on that.

      Ok, in reply to your comment –

      Where the rabbits and guinea pigs are concerned, to the best of my knowledge it often comes down to the animals as individuals, with the main problem being where animals are kept singularly. We had quite an in-depth chat with the head keeper on duty that day which lifted my doubts. We learned that the smaller animals are taken to schools a lot. As we could see multiples of each species in the pen I didn’t feel the concern I would have felt if there was just one guinea pig in with multiple rabbits for example. I know ideally there’d be separate pens but I guess it seemed to me that they’ve made the best of the situation – two aggressive rabbits were kept away, sleeping in separate hutches, on frequent rotation and so on.

      As for the rabbit food – that is really disappointing to hear. 🙁 I wonder if that is that the standard food given to them or do they have a variety? This is the kind of detail I didn’t check when there, as I’m not up on my bunny food knowledge. But that’s disappointing.

      When we saw the lizards they were on the relevant (adequate) substrate and had several hides, which is what they need, and we were allowed to hold all of them. Handling lizards is the best form of enrichment they can have really – far above toys/complexity of enclosure. I agree the tanks could be bigger but I took it as small farm, not a lot of funding, doing the best with what they have – the money they have has clearly gone onto the larger enclosures (imo the way it should be) and the lizard ones are a bit dated but not too small (also bearing in mind certain species of reptile, invertebrates and amphibians are agoraphobic so if they have massive enclosures they’re much more likely to freak out).

      We saw only a couple of chickens with missing feathers, which we asked about and the ones we saw at least were rescue chickens which explains the stress. It was only a couple though – maybe things have changed since we went (probably about a month ago now so I guess before you). I thought the chicken enclosure was great and we actually saw a lot of chickens playing, burying themselves and so on – I haven’t seen a chicken in an enclosure do that for a long time which impressed me. It’s also common (you probably know this, my family has chickens so I’ll elaborate anyway in case somebody else reads) for chickens to lose feathers due to old age/certain injuries, so sometimes although it looks alarming the chicken is in good health.

      I completely agree that I wish the conditions were better overall. It is tiny and with a decent grant they could do a lot with the place. I don’t think conditions are limited to Ouseburn – I think you’d be hard-pushed to find a zoo/farm where nothing can be improved. I don’t know if you read my post on Frieghtliners, the farm most local to me, but all the enclosures there are about half the size with no decent fields, so in comparison Ouseburn looked great and it looks like they are really trying to engage with schools/community. With a tiny place like Ouseburn as well it’s got to be about getting more footfall, increasing the funds and then gradually renovating the smaller enclosures and tanks.

      Not having decent vegan food options in the cafe would be my one complaint – I didn’t mention this in my post as when we asked it was apparently something that was coming out with their new menu. I have to say though, I get really pissed off about the hypocrisy of food served at animal-based attractions. There was no hog roast van when we went but that’s pretty deplorable. Was it attached to the farm or an independent? I suppose the only blessing is kids who have just played with a pig might think twice about just blindly eating a dead pig? I don’t know. 🙁

      Anyway those are my middle-of-the-night thoughts. thank you so much for your comment. If you go back tell me what the conditions are like? I’m not sure when I’ll next be in Newcastle. 🙁

      July 21, 2016 at 1:26 am

    Leave me some words