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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Time out.

It's good to have time off to recharge the batteries. The daily chores take place, but not much else, unfortunately as quite often happens, not everyone is firing on all cylinders and feeling as we would like to when we have time off.

We brought the cows in a couple of weeks before Christmas. We brought them back to the field where their shed is just to eat off a little grass, but they were intent on coming into it, before we were actually ready for them, they made their intentions very clear, they maybe a very hardy breed but they obviously like a few creature comforts, can't say I blame them.
The sheep will now have to return from their summer residence and start the preparations for lambing at the end of February, it seems to come around so quickly, a bit like Christmas.

Despite this horrible wet weather the chicken have started to lay a little, they like trundling about in amongst the cows bedding, scratching about.

Sally has returned pregnant with the next litter of piglets, hopefully.

Not a great deal of seed sowing goes on in January, although I do get itchy fingers, so no doubt I will have to sow a few lettuces and cabbage nearer the end of the month and some broad beans.


Monday, 16 December 2013


Sorry, it's been a long time, one of my excuses is that my camera has a problem so I can't take pictures, and I like to give photos of what I am talking about. The Twitter feed keeps you up to date with the most regular events. From now until boxing day is busy, then time to relax, sort of. Will report soon.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Highs and lows.

Today we had to sadly say goodbye to Gertie. It's taken us about 2 years to get to this point, it really was a dirty deed that had to be done. Unfortunately food prices and housing space dictated that this was a necessary move. This comes under the "low" heading.
Last Saturday was a lovely afternoon and we had a lot of bodies around so we made a start on the potato harvest. I don't know if anyone watched "Harvest" on TV with Greg and Phillipa, but our field doesn't look anything like those fields. The big boys have all the sophisticated and expensive machinery, sprays for everything, weed or bug, and made it all look perfect. Not at all like what happens here. Nevertheless we were pleased with our potatoes. You will see from the pictures attached, we don't have shiny new equipment, neither do we spray against weed or bug, which greatly hampers us on this particular job. But we can enjoy eating lovely chemical free potatoes.
We did the taste test on our ducks, they were gooood!
Bob & Tufty are both in with the girls now. Unfortunately Bob is very aggressive which makes life difficult now that he is loose in the field, we have to be very vigilant when we are around him. He must do his job then we will say goodbye to him, not quite as fondly.

Monday, 30 September 2013

The latest happenings.

If you check out the website on a regular basis, you get a little feel of all what happens fairly constantly with my tweets.
As tweeted we have had loads of mushrooms this year, there have been 2 harvests, one in July/August and a 2nd one now in mid September. Shop mushrooms don't compare. But field mushrooms have a very short shelf life, so in order to make the most of them, mushroom soup was being made daily, in quite large quantities.
Which leads me on to the fact that I hate waste, so this time of year is frantic in trying to pickle, freeze, eat or make something with surplus veg.  Most of the veg has produced well this year, which was reassuring after the last few years when things had been so difficult.
In the spring we hatched out a handful of ducks. There were 2 drakes amongst them which were dispatched recently and were pleased with the end result, we haven't done the taste test yet, we've put them in our freezer. I've attached a picture of the remaining ducks which we are going to keep for egg production, they are very nice young ladies.
September is the last month really for any tunnel planting, possibly a few days into October, but the days are too short now for much growing.
The field is looking lovely with all it's veg, we've managed to keep the carrot fly, caterpillars and pigeons off of everything up till now with insect mesh. The slugs were fairly quiet this year for a change. No doubt winter will see the pigeons doing battle with us again, pigeon pie sounds good to me!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Another week.

Another week has flown by.
The weather has been lovely, although there is an autumnal feeling to mornings and evenings. This little bit of rain at the end of the week has been welcome.
It's been another busy week here for us in the shop with lunches, cream teas, cake orders and all the usual other stuff.
We were running short of some beef so we were glad to be able to process Jessica, now all chopped, minced and ready for use, all a necessary part of our business which enables us and our customers to know exactly where their food comes from. All of our cattle are grass and silage fed and have an outdoor life throughout the summer months, unlike so many now. They are slow growing and all reach the 30 month threshold for slaughter. All our meals contain our own beef naturally, and many complimentary comments are made about it. We make steak and kidney and steak pies, both of which are hugely popular.
Christmas must be coming as the turkeys arrived this week, aagh!
The silage pile is growing once again as the boys gather it in from the fields. Our straw arrived during the week ready for winter use. We seem to spend half the year enduring winter, and the other half preparing for it.

Sunday, 1 September 2013


The last two weeks have produced numerous new babies, some planned, some not.
Sally and her babies continue to do well.
Two calves arrived this week one little girl named Jade and a little boy called Marty.
Two hens produced two little unexpected broods, always a lovely surprise when mother proudly emerges from a hidden nest with her babies. The incubator produced a handful of chicks, not as successful as we had hoped, the hens make a much better job of it.
Whatever the baby they're always lovely, we still get excited on their arrival.
Sadly not all of them make it as we were rudely reminded this week with Piggy Little. We had never reared a piglet by hand. We thought she was going to be alright when she reached a week old and appeared to be doing really well, but it wasn't to be.
We're very fortunate to witness so many births and it is rewarding, but it also comes with responsibility and can be stressful knowing when to intervene and when not to. 
       Sleeping beauties.                                                   Jade and Mum.
       Marty and Mum, just a few hours old.                        The last 6 to hatch, 2 days old.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

All the latest.

As tweeted, Sally has produced 10 living piglets. Unfortunately as usual some did not survive otherwise she would have had 14. The smallest, or as widely known as the runt pig, was not looking good either so we decided on a rescue package, wrongly or rightly, so we now have Piggie Little, who is actually now doing reasonably well, but it is early days, as it is for them all.  Sally seems to be happy with us as visitors but we are trying not to disturb unnecessarily in these early days.
Back along I told you that we had a new drake. We sat some eggs from both sets of ducks, some with the other drake as well and both produced ducklings, now almost ready for the table. We now know that we have two working drakes.
This weekend we have an incubator full of chicks to hatch. Offspring from last years hatch with a nice new cockerel, courtesy of a customer.
I've attached some pictures of things that we did or saw over the summer months. Most of them are self explanatory.
                   The magnificent 4.                                                          Hampers in the shop.
                Deer in the morning sunshine.                                              Proms night.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Party time.

Since the cows were turned out in the Spring, our attention has been to cleaning the shed, pressure washing it all down in time for a special birthday in August. Last night saw the culmination of a lot of hard work, a spot of interior decorating and a party venue materialised before our eyes. We all had a lovely evening with friends and family, lots to eat, dancing and not enough sleep to recharge our batteries for the coming week work load. Apologies to any customers who come in on Monday.
The cake was a picture of beloved Nanette.
A few pictures attached of the evening.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Rain at last.

I tweeted last week that we still had not had any rain, but at last we have, I think our arms are 2 inches longer with carrying so many cans of water keeping all our freshly planted cabbages etc alive. We saved most of them, and now with some real rain they are looking very healthy.
The dry spell was good for making hay though, no worries, which makes a change. We still have to make some silage when we have enough grass to cut again, another reason for needing rain.
The summer veg is going well, we are now picking tomatoes, beetroot, courgettes, potatoes, salad leaves,
french beans, spinach, carrots and probably something else that I have forgotten.
Winter planting is going well. The season has been so different from last year, thank goodness.
The shop continues to be busy with all our regular customers and holiday makers.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Is this Spring?

Well, the weather has been a little warmer this week, which encouraged us to do a little more planting outside. The broad beans have now left the shelter of buildings to the full exposure of the field weather. We planted parsnip seeds, and this week, weather permitting we will continue with more.
The birds are still ravenous on the bird table and feeders which I guess is a sign that food is still very scarce out there.
The ducks and chicken are laying profusely now, they must know something that we don't, this is the first week I have picked up lots of eggs. We acquired a new drake this week as the original didn't seem to be doing the business, we want some baby ducklings!
On Tuesday we went to a trade show at Westpoint to source some new stock, hopefully you will see some on the shelves soon. Finding new, quality, local stock that the supermarkets don't have is increasingly difficult.
The shop was quite quiet this week, no catering events. Oxtail stew was on the menu for Friday lunch this week, followed with chocolate and banana pudding, chocolate sauce and clotted cream.
I've attached a picture along with a few others of our newly re-furbished church, venue of Oasis on a Monday morning. Stuffed lamb breast is on the menu in there this Monday, the 22nd.
The customers like to get involved, one of them feeding the tame lambs, in the elusive sunshine.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Another week.

Another week has come and gone.
The weather has been a little kinder to us this week.
We planted all our maincrop potatoes before the rain set in this week, let's hope for a better crop than last years.
The cucumbers and courgettes that lived with us in the house for several weeks are now happily re-homed in the heated tunnel, along with the tomatoes.
Unfortunately the veggie boxes are becoming  a little difficult to fill, the winter veg is coming to an end, and the spring/summer veg is reluctant to grow in difficult weather conditions, so we are having to tell customers that we will be unable to continue until we have sufficient veg again.
For those of you that follow us on twitter you will have read that our lambs were attacked by a dog last weekend, unfortunately, Abraham died late on Sunday afternoon, even more sad was the fact that it was Sophies ex tame lamb, not nice news to come home from your holiday to receive, there were tears.
We had 2 baby calves during the week, one needed assistance, everything was fine. It's a good job we have a nice new shed to be able to partition off a maternity ward.
Sally went off to visit her boyfriend, leaving her sausages on legs as I call them, behind.
We had another catering job this week in the shop, but life was a little easier with a full workforce on board .Friday lunch was black pudding stuffed pork tenderloin, saute potatoes, kale, peas and swede followed with a dessert of apple, cinnamon and lemon torte, vanilla ice cream and clotted cream.
Tomorrow we do it all again. Monday we supply Oasis at our chapel in the village with lunch, Beef Cobbler and off we go again.....

Friday, 5 April 2013

A busy week.

We've had a busy week here on the farm with much of the workforce away on holiday. It's been bitterly cold which didn't help the outdoor work, but the boys coped admirably.
The sheep are fed up with not having any spring grass and become terribly discontent. The hogs escaped from their indoor quarters and found themselves able to associate with the ewes, giving us another job to do of sorting them all out, one we could have done without.
Unfortunately we can't do anything about the weather ( or probably a good thing ) but it is making life increasingly more difficult. Thankfully we have plenty of hay and silage still, but the animals become restless and prefer some juicy grass at this time of the year.
The chicken got into the tunnel during the week and devastated the lettuces, mutilated 50% of the spring cabbages, I was not a happy bunny, everything is already very scarce so I could have well done without that happening.
The shop has remained busy, some holiday makers around, and all my faithful regulars. A full house today for lunch, which was chicken and broccoli in a creamy delicious sauce, garlic potatoes, baked carrots and leeks, savoy and peas cooked in butter, followed by Banoffie pie with clotted cream.
We also had a large catering event on this week, so, just another normal week at Fionas Farm Fayre, and an unexpected baby calf just to finish the week off, the weekend is still to come!!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

April Fool

Well, even though we do think we are the Best Farm Shop in Devon, it was all done in the spirit of April Fools Day.
Several of our customers thought it was a genuine accolade and well deserved, which was extremely
nice of them.

Monday, 1 April 2013


Received this, this morning.
Best Farm Shop in Devon.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Horse meat

The news out this morning is music to the ears of so many of us producers who are trying desperately to educate people on buying local, buying true traceability, buying quality, none of which comes CHEAP.
Why is this so difficult to comprehend, surely common sense should prevail, no one can supply something for nothing unless they were supplied it by the same means, alarm bells ringing, if not, why not.
Welfare standards, food hygiene standards are commonly known not to be on the continent and further a field as our own in this country, but for some very sad reason a £ sign suddenly gives people an amnesia attack.

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Winter definitely arrived over the past 2 weeks. It certainly does look pretty, but makes life difficult in so many ways.
And as if the weather isn't enough to contend with, on Friday I planted 120 broad beans, overnight the mice ate 70 of them,and the pigeons are annihilating everything that might poke it's head out from under cover. 
As I was taking a few photographs this afternoon in the tunnel of the first seeds sprouting, it was absolutely throwing down hail stones, deafening under the plastic.
I've attached a variety of pictures.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Leisure time

The shop is open Monday to Friday 10.00am - 5.00pm and 10.00am - 2.00pm on a Saturday.
Sundays we are not open at all, as we are Christians we have a guilt free day off. This past Sunday we took ourselves off to Fingle Bridge and had a jolly nice day walking and the boys playing with big boys toys.
I was given a camera for Christmas, so here are my very first pictures from my own camera.