Somehow, we are in October, with foolishly warm days and mild misty mornings – all so picturesque if a little disconcerting. The hedgerows are heaving with the Hawthorn berries – as well decorated as when the blossom lay heavy and no cold spring winds blew it down. If the old farmer’s saying that an abundance of berries signals a hard winter comes true, at least we know our bird population should be well fed. A Brambling has been spotted, and a little flock of Meadow Pipits are also enjoying the hedgerows.
We had our annual Demeter inspection. We passed. It was a very good visit, helpful and constructive, and good to talk to others about the farm and about the wider BD world.
We have our annual Soil Association inspection this coming week. For the first time in a while, we won’t be having our Red Tractor inspection at the same time, which makes the process for this inspection simpler. Our Red Tractor inspection will follow on in due course.
Back in September we also made our own Preparation 500 as we call it, or more properly, Horn Manure. This is an important calendar event for a biodynamic farm, and this year we have some support from a fellow local BD farmer which was a lovely collaborative moment.
To make the prep.500 we collect fresh cow dung in the morning – the amount related to the number of cow horns we plan to fill. We place the barrow full of manure in the centre, sit around it with little heaps of empty horns between us, and set to with old spoons, tipping spoonsfuls into a horn, shaking it well down. And so, we continue till all the horns are filled. Next step is to place the horns, tip upwards, in the ground, in a hole dug where the soil quality is good. They are covered up with a thick layer of soil and left through the winter. We dig them up in the spring. And by then, the manure has become an entirely new substance, used to enhance the texture, vitality and life of the soil.
At this week’s farm meeting, two important subjects were discussed. The condition of the grass in each field to determine where the animals should go next to graze, and the preparations needed for the ewes going to tup. It is that time of year again! So, we need to look at the history of each ewe: What lambs did she have in previous years, and how did the lambs do; Which rams were they put with – we have three. All this is well worth while, and it’s good we are doing it again after the Covid years which caused chaos in so many aspects of life. We have also managed to bring in 30 new Llyn ewes to increase our breeding stock to 100.
The less good news is that the ten young stock, selected to move to Fordhall Farm, had one cow as a reactor to the required TB testing. You will remember that this doesn’t mean the cow has TB, just that it might. This has been a real blow. The reactor is now isolated in the barn awaiting its fate, where we will eventually get the results from the blood tests. The other cattle are segregated in the field closest to us, all of them looking a bit lost. We now are back in the cycle of more frequent TB testing – a cycle we hoped we had broken free from with the good results of late.
The bonus for the young stock stuck near the house is that they got to watch the wedding TeePee being put into place – the ewes are in the field by the drive, which granted is further away, but they were much more meh! The cows at least were prepared to have a nose!
And, so, in such a good ‘old fashioned’ Radio 2 link, with the farm news in place, a moment to turn our focus to the next few days here, as you know Adrian would. We are now in the run up to Brendan and Alice’s wedding, and this is giving us all much nervous excitement! This will be the first ‘new’ family event without Adrian which is of course tough, but we are also just filled with happiness for them both.
So, we are focusing ourselves now on remembering how to party, how to wear smart clothes (who knew you could forget!) and how to feel the joy of the family getting one more member, knowing Adrian very much gave his blessing to the wedding when he was able to celebrate their engagement.
So, a ‘cheers’ to the approaching nuptials, and the approaching party – glitter ball-ed Teepee and all – we hope you enjoy this poem as much as we have:
October’s Party by George Cooper
October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came—
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.
Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly “hands around.”