Autumn is here and the farm is alive with colour – An update from Farmer Adrian

The last few days have seen our first frost of the year and some gloriously sunny weather. We have picked the damsons from the tree in our garden and Anne and Chris had both Vecs going for juice extraction. The fact that two full containers only produced 8 bottles of juice underlines how dry this summer has been.damson berries

Earlier this morning Chris, Boots and I were down at the barn, Chris to do the hard work, Boots and me to assist in small ways. As I noted last week these particular ewe lambs are very feisty – as February born they are also pretty large! Drenching is not a particularly ‘nice’ activity either for the giver or the recipient. It’s made all the harder when the animals are not used to being handled. Running them through the footbath afterwards should have been a piece of cake but one run through the ‘race’ meant they were very reluctant to go through a second time in 25 minutes! Still the task was done, all the ear tags were ‘read’ and FarmIT subsequently updated.

For the record let me confirm derogation was obtained first!

lamb drenchingI walked back from the barn essentially to enjoy the sun, the sight of the suckler herd chewing the cud contentedly and to admire the colours in the hedgerow – the red of the haws, the slate-black of the sloes and bright black of the blackberries.

autumn colours

On Friday the main stock event was first trying to catch the two young heifers with slightly infected hooves and then holding them individually between  a gate and a hurdle so they could have the final injection insisted on by the vet. Again Boots and I were happy spectators of Tim and Chris rushing around the small field into which the nine had been driven. Hard to believe when they all rushed around that they really did need treatment!

Tim spent quite a bit of the week ‘topping’, on an organic farm one of our main weapons against the the thistle. The key is to top at the moment when the plant can suffer the biggest set back. It would of course help if the plants were all ready at the same time but…

Several achievements in the garden, two compost heaps were remade and biodynamic preparations inserted, my ancient citrus trees were moved into the lean-to greenhouse after the bubble wrap had been put back in place – there are fruit on them but whether they develop into something we can enjoy is less certain!

Last night the large wood stove was fired up and since our woodshed has been taken over for other purposes we now have to rely for supplies on a small trailer in the courtyard full of cut timber.

The autumn also brings with it inspections! We are inspected by two organisations and while they essentially require the same evidence they ask for it set out in different ways and so my task at the moment is to make sure I have all the evidence to hand together with answers to whatever questions may be thrown at us. The exercise (if testing and a bit tedious!) is worthwhile for not only does it force us to review the year gone past but also to review all our various policies which range from waste management to maintenance of animal health. The best part of both inspections is when we get to go outside and with the inspector actually walk through the stock and over the pastures.

Our drive round the farm this morning confirmed that we needed to get our woodman in to clear a large willow branch from a tree by the brook which has broken off and partly blocked the bridle path.

We have agreed with a primary school in Stourbridge to have a number of visits over the year to support a curriculum project they intend to follow this academic year. As their first project they are going to learn about hedge laying.

This week two of our tenants have arranged on behalf of the Macmillan Charity to hold coffee mornings throughout this week with Chris providing the coffee and the team from LSD accountants the cakes.

We have also agreed to support work with a special school and to work with a commercial education organisation which has won a contract from Worcestershire to support what are known as NEETS (young people under 18 not in education, employment or training).

– Farmer Adrian

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