As I sit to type this the sun is shining - Hurrah, at last! Autumn seems to have arrived rather quickly this year but I love it, as it brings the start of the new sheep calendar. The Balwen ewes are now on the best grazing in readiness to meet the ram at the end of the month - and as we have so many ewes now we have had to buy in another handsome chap.
We managed to move this year’s lambs & some of the bought in ewes to their new homes in-between the two Foot & Mouth shut downs, so there are now 58 sheep - 38 ewes and the rest are ewe lambs we are keeping or are destined for the freezer - there a few ½ / whole lamb boxes left to be reserved if you want to place an order and they’ll be ready in the early spring. It is amazing to think that last year we lambed 4 ewes, this year 15 and next year 38! We have 15 Balwens due for inspection by the breed society to see if they will register and have fingers crossed that we are able to take them up to Wales for examination without a hitch. We’ve had our first order for next years’ lambs already which is promising.
The pigs on the other hand are another story - and this is where we may need your help… Owing to movement restrictions (still on pigs) we only managed to sell and move 3 of the 21 Large Black weaners born in the summer so we have rather more young pigs growing on than we had intended and there will be an embarrassing glut of delicious rare breed pork come December to March. We have a few orders already but not 18 pigs-worth! So if you fancy a ½ pig for the freezer or think you could share one with a few friends for the bargain price of £125 then please let us know, otherwise I’m not quite sure what we will do! As an indicator, it would probably take up about 2-3 freezer baskets volume-wise and will include a variety of joints, chops, loin, spare ribs etc. (See photo in last newsletter). We will also make sausages, bacon and gammon and can sell individual joints if you prefer too. The bacon and gammon made last month sold out instantly and it was truly mouth-watering (phew!). We are so pleased with the 2 new butchers we have used and have several repeat orders. I also made sure that we actually had some ourselves this time…
Once the restrictions are eased, one lucky pig is going to a school farm where she will be kept for pedigree breeding.
A further side effect of all these animals is that we are now going through over a sack of feed a day - just as feed prices have increased by 20% owing to poor grain harvests and its getting somewhat costly! In the past we have managed to re-use these sturdy sacks for various things but now there are so many we are looking for ways to recycle them - if you could make use of some heavy duty bags for rubbish, logs, collecting leaves for composting etc please take as many as you like… really…
The chicken have pretty much stopped laying now - we’re only getting about 3-5 eggs a day and our regular table egg customers are scrapping over who gets to have them. The dog is definitely out of luck now. It’s been lovely to get emails and photos back from customers who have hatched eggs we’ve sent - an unanticipated response.
I succumbed to a trio of West of England geese which as the name suggests are an old breed local to Devon and Cornwall and took some time to find.
They are sex-linked which means that any ganders hatched are white and geese are grey and white. The plan is to hatch as many as possible next year as I refuse to pay £65+ for a Christmas goose when we can easily grow our own. They came with a price though… Ian wasn’t too keen, so we did a deal and I had to forgo something in return - so the Aylesbury ducks have gone to friends and we’ll keep only the Cayugas.
The tractor collection has been static for some time until we had a call a fortnight ago from a family friend who had turned up the much sought after David Brown red 770 in need of restoration - except ‘some idiot had painted it white’ to quote another tractor collector. Ian drove across the country to collect it as soon as he could get away lest it be snapped up by someone else. He tries to convince me the tractors are our pension fund but I don’t see him ever selling them somehow… According to my reckoning, there’s only one left on Ian’s shopping list now but its funny how others seem to get added on the other end… and following his logic (previous paragraph) its my turn to get something to even the equation - watch this space, there’s something suitable in the pipe-line...
We went through the water vole pens last month and most had had a couple of litters. They are due for release next spring all being well. I have given up my part time office job now with the vole consultancy to allow for more time at home with our own enterprises.
Our 80-year-old neighbour who has been largeing it up along the French waterways instead of working on the barn conversion is now back and determined to make it waterproof by the onset of (heavier) rain. The floor beams arrive next week and the first floor hearth slab is soon to be cast - not sure how that will work with tonnes of wet concrete overhead, but I’ll leave that to the boys to worry about.
Well, I think that’s enough for this one. We want to thank you so much for your support in our first year of business - do keep in touch and if you think you can squeeze some pork in the freezer drop us a line….
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