Hello again. As I write this the heavens are opening and the promised 2” of rain seem to have fallen in the last ½ hour. Mad. The dog is a quivering heap under my desk because of the thunder. I have nearly exhausted the list of things that need doing inside (except cleaning of course) and the computer battery has only 1 hour left and I daren’t plug in to the mains for fear of a lightening strike - we had one a few years ago that fried Ian’s pc during the night. Must be August…
What news this time?... mostly barn, barn and more barn. My father came over for the first 2 weeks of June to mastermind putting on the oak frame for the new barn roof. This entailed leaving the old dilapidated tin one on until the last possible minute to avoid creating an open air swimming pool, taking it down (noisily), re-housing a nest of sparrows (all 5 fledged successfully), taking down the crumbling cob walls until solid cob was reached, rebuilding with cob blocks & lime morter, casting a concrete ring beam to help tie the walls together [aided by a neighbour on the cement mixer, me shovelling & ferrying buckets of concrete upstairs (lost count) & Ian levelling ‘top-side’], collapsing in a heap for about 30 seconds before father arrived, followed by Ian on tele-handler lifting the 1/3 -ton frames in to place (that had been cut in green oak 4 years ago and were now extremely twisted), then lifting the huge heavy panels in to position (not aided by having to slip them skilfully under an overhead mains wire), then finally slating the entire roof with the assistance of a builder from the village. Phew …and there was a farm to run during all of that too… A huge thanks to all that got roped in to helping, including: Andrew H, David R, J&J, Sue, & Ian D. We plan on opening the new office/shop/training facilities in early June next year if all goes according to plan.
Other than that, the sheep are doing well. The Kerrys have amazed me by how quickly they grow. We weaned both the Balwen and Kerry lambs in the last week so they will be going off to their new homes soon. The Balwen ram lambs were beginning to look a little too amorous towards their mums and aunties so they have already moved in with the older rams. Oh, and we recently bought our first Kerry Hill ram from a chap near the Welsh borders. Wow! What a fine and handsome - and huge - ram he is. When we first let him out of the trailer he looked like he would run and jump the fence and disappear so we quickly put a wether lamb in with him for company and he has now settled down. He was pretty wild but after a few weeks of work, he will eat from my hand now which makes managing him much easier. He has been called ‘Morris’ by default after the chap we bought him from, and his lamb friend… Minor… had to be done.
So, hands up who knew I would fill the new 400-egg incubator straight away?... Hmm, within 4 weeks it was running at full capacity. I hadn’t planned on it, but pretty soon all the turning shelves were full, and the hatches have been brilliant. So much better than before, and we have nearly caught up on orders.
We have been updating the website with new information and fresh pages on the Kerrys etc. I was amazed to find that if you Google the web for ‘Balwen sheep’, ‘Large black pigs’ or ‘Ixworth chicken’, we are in the top 3-5 every time!!!
We must be doing something right: We attended the Pencarrow Smallholders Fair again this year (didn’t get blown away this time) and took a ewe and lamb for display, hatching eggs to sell, and faithful little Agnes with her 2 day old hatch of Cayuga ducklings - she stole the show and I am sure contributed to the fact that we won an award for ‘Best Rural Business’ which was later presented at the Royal Cornwall Show! We now have a shiny cup and rosette to display. It has recently been written up in local newspapers, ‘Cornwall Today’ magazine and the Duchy College Rural Business School news. Very exciting. Only topped by the fact that today I had an enquiry from… Harrods! Not exactly local but we’ll see how that develops.
The pigs continue to do well. Betty had our largest litter yet: 14 piglets in May, quite a number for a rare breed. We have kept back several to provide fresh pork, gammon and bacon in time for Christmas so do let us know what you would like to reserve if you haven’t already. Bea had 11 a fortnight ago and all are doing well - and are great time-wasters.
We made one small field of hay so far as we were doing the roof in June when the weather was nice and Ian has been busy with audio installations recently, just as well as our neighbours needed help bringing in around 1500 small bales last week. I’m sure we will be calling in the favour as soon as the weather holds.
Very exciting news: Gem, our collie, went off to visit a boyfriend a few weeks ago. She had a scan with the vet this week to see if she is expecting, and he confirmed at least 4 puppies, so fingers crossed. If so, she will be due in early September. We always intended to breed her once before getting her fixed as we wanted to get another puppy to keep her company - no more making up games like chasing leaves or passing helicopters. She has such a lovely affectionate nature and the dog she visited has a very similar temperament and is a black & white long haired working collie, so it will be very interesting to see what combinations are born. Both Gem’s parents were black and whites so her tri-colour was unexpected. We have tentative orders for a couple of pups but if you would like one do let us know.
Finally, we have at long last put in our application for planning to install a wind turbine - will update you on progress next time.
We plan on running another ‘Poultry Keeping for Beginners’ course on Sat 27th September, so if you are interested please get in touch to reserve a place.
Available now: We recently collected the following back from the butcher:
Taking orders for Christmas pork, and also lamb which will start being sent off to the butcher from late September onwards; also lamb burgers and lamb mince.
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