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New Friends at Juniper Hall

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Yesterday marked the arrival of the latest additions to Juniper’s growing menagerie: five Rhode Island red hybrid hens. They’re now happily installed in the chicken run constructed last year by Jason and Robbie. The animals were sourced by our own Sarah Bradford, and this step is the first in a longer-term plan to showcase the rare Dorking breed of chicken.

Dorking is of course our nearest town, and the Dorking chicken is its symbol, being visible all over the town, from statues on roundabouts to door knockers. We think it would be great to have a few of these animals at Juniper Hall. The breed was introduced to Britain by the Romans early on in their invasion, so it’s an old breed for Britain. But Dorking hens are expensive, so we’re starting with the Rhode Island hens to learn how to look after them before we take the plunge!

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We’re quickly learning how inquisitive and adventurous they are, and how high they can jump. So far they’ve provided us with two eggs… hopefully the first of many.

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Snakes, Spiders, Snow and Other 2012 Happenings

As the first days of 2013 emerge cringing into the sunlight, it’s time to take a look back at some of the happenings that have marked the last few months at Juniper Hall. It’s been a busy year with lots of comings and goings, marked particularly by the arrival of our new head of centre Clive Bromhall and his unique vision for the centre. Pretty much since arrival, Clive has been planning structural changes and additions to the centre. In the pipeline are ponds for pond-dipping, clearing out our on-site woodlands to make them more suitable habitats for small mammals, and chickens to put into our new run. And in these last few days before we begin teaching again, the centre is full of building equipment as the common room and residential areas get a complete overhaul.

Possibly the most talked-about change has been the introduction of several exotic animals. Clive has a background in wildlife documentary-making, and has a keen interest in keeping exotic pets, many of which we now use in teaching sessions with students. Here’s Georgia with Zebedee, one of our boa constrictors (one of the only animals to have a common name that’s the same as its full latin name, besides tyrannoasurus rex!).

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Also being kept by us at the moment are several emperor scorpions, whip-spiders, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Mexican red knee tarantulas and axolotl; it’s become quite the menagerie.

Towards the end of the year, we attended the all-staff conference, which took place a Nettlecomb Court in the heart of Somerset. I’d not been to Nettlecomb before: I think it’s one of the most amazing buildings in the FSC.

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Each centre came up with their own theme for dress-up: the Juniper Hall crew all dressed up as chief executive Rob Lucas (who took it in good fun!). Here’s Clive and Nicola getting their Rob on… I think it was probably one of the most well-received costume ideas. There’s nothing like seeing a bunch of Robs troop into a room.

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Here’s some well-dressed representatives of either Dale or Orielton; both went with a badger theme. Repeated chants of ‘badger badger badger’ were deemed not funny after the first hundred times.

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One of the standard Juniper Hall end-of-year events is the Friends of Juniper Hall Christmas lunch. The JH team made the kitchen look incredibly festive this year for the event.

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Here’s myself and Kayleigh looking dapper after the lunch during the Secret Santa gift-swapping, another JH tradition!

Hangin out in the Royal Oak with Kayleigh Brake.

Finally, just before Christmas we had a single day of snow. It’s been pretty wet and mild since, but for one day at least, JH looked like something out of a Christmas Card.WP_000021

First day of snow at Juniper Hall!