Happy New Year to you all and I hope Christmas was all you could have hoped for. Here on the farm the last ten days or so have been very much about family. A real plus for me was that I managed to get up for the meals, and for the presents under the tree! Anne as ever has been marvellous, and has carried a great deal on her shoulders while I have been laid so low. I am truly grateful. A real bonus for the family as a whole was that the ‘bugs’ kept away for the festive period!
Despite being in many ways in the middle-of-nowhere, the New Year’s Eve fireworks were still overhead, and the ageing dogs are sadly much affected by them. Milly, happily still in her teenage years is not bothered by them at all, but Flash felt that lying beside Chris wasn’t enough and so sat on his head to get through the stressful half hour!
At this time in the year the main farm activities are associated with feeding and ensuring there is water for the stock. Sadly though, Chris and Tim have also been kept busy with the continuation of a fallout from the husk in the cattle which has led to the death of two young female animals – one unexpected, the other less so. You may recall a photo of a cow with a ‘red devil’ planted in her side – sadly she never made a full recovery and left us on Christmas Eve.
Where the husk came from heaven knows – it wasn’t just us who failed to identify the problem, the stock was seen three times by vets who did not spot it either. That’s not a criticism of the vets just helps us cope with the inevitable sense of failure one has when an animal dies.
The cattle rather resent having straw mixed in with their haylage but it really is in their interests not to get too fat! There are still three to calve – we know they are pregnant but when the action will take place is quite uncertain. One of our original and hence oldest cows has now safely calved but is rather short of milk. As for the sheep, it appears the lambs are maintaining their condition which is obviously very important.
Over the Christmas week I managed to hoist myself out of bed to join Anne and Chris in a meeting to talk to Liza, who runs the Raspberry Rose Farm Shop and Café on the business park. Liza would like to take over the field 11 market garden. We had a very good meeting and that take over takes effect next week.
Many of the units are now connected to the new energy system and seem happy with how it is functioning. There are still units to connect and work needed to make good the site but the contractors are as anxious as we are to be done with us!
A contract has been signed to bring fast broadband onto the park and we have had our first request to make available a power recharging socket for a hybrid car – all very exciting.
This week has seen a lot of work related to storage and packing facilities for Ulula. Their sales in December were the best ever; I think their success is not just down to having really good products to sell but almost as much to the personalised service they provide. All very satisfying.
Amazingly we are already in the second week of January and it is 5 weeks since my ‘back went’. I am finally starting to feel there could be a pain free future – sooner rather than later! This is not to say that my ‘walks’ extend to more than 100 yards to date, but these last days I was at least able to take a more active interest in farm life – good news as Chris carries the extra burden with the farm of my being out of action, particularly with regards the paperwork. Indeed, I am very pleased to share that it was a real pleasure – for me at least – to chair the Friday morning meeting this week and bring myself fully up to date on stock, feed and pasture conditions. We still have not had our Soil association inspection so that is a pleasure to come!
Despite the very ‘up and down’ weather (-6 degrees at the start of this week and +10 by the end), all seems well. We have lost a ewe but she was rather elderly and may just have had enough of life. The Rams remain with the ewes even though they are now in the third cycle; the best step is to bring the two flocks together and probably leave the Rams in ‘just in case’. The cattle seem well and maintaining their condition and are obviously very content with their new extended winter quarters.
At our Friday morning meeting Liza attended for the first time to share with us her thoughts on the field 11 garden and to start to feel part of the farm team.
As for the business park, we certainly had several crises, but a snagging meeting regards the energy system took place on Friday and left us with some confidence that all will be complete by the 13th – not famous last words I trust!
All of the grandchildren are now back at school and when the weather allows, after school spend hours in the trampoline that Father Christmas left them. One sprained ankle aside soon forgotten, they all seem very well!