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Thursday, 3 December 2015

At last, we've finally got the shop extension started.  Unfortunately the weather has not been at all cooperative, rain, rain, wind and a bit more wind, trenches filled with water, mud everywhere, such fun! is not a phrase that springs to mind. 

The cows came in early November as the weather went down hill so quickly and the ground became extremely wet. It makes it a long winter for them and us. We have plenty of silage and hay from this past years harvest and the previous year, so we have no worries there. 

Our new ram, Russell, seems to have done his job, when we pit a harness on him he only marked a couple, it came off the first time round so we caught him for the next 3 week period.  We still have a few lambs's left, 3 are going next week for the shop, then some more to market, with just a few being kept over the winter period to replenish the shop as and when they are needed.

We have lots of pigs coming along now, but unfortunately we're not sure if Sally or Lily went to the boar again, we will have them scanned at a later date. We start a run on pork next week when we send the first 3 of 9 to go. It's still the best tasting pork!!

Although the weather has not been good we've still managed to let the turkeys out quite alot. There aren't as many big ones this year as we ordered some that won't grow so big, as a lot of people seem to only want little ones, you can never have too much turkey, I can do so much with leftover turkey.

We have over 20 people booked for the shop Christmas lunch. We will be having it in our new extension, it's going to be our kitchen eventually, but we are using it as a dining room first. The shop has continued to be reasonably busy throughout November, which is usually our quietest month, for this we are thankful.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Definitely Autumnal.

8 o'clock in the evening and all is dark and long gone to bed outside. On the more positive side we do seem to be hanging on to our Indian summer weather. We have been digging our main crop potatoes this afternoon and the weather was gorgeous and we have a fine lot of potatoes. With this last burst of warm weather before the winter, we are busy trying to do all the jobs we can in the fields. Not much planting happens now as the daylight hours reduce and growth slows down. We keep some veg going in the tunnels over the winter period, last year was so mild some things produced all winter, all but slowly. Our tomatoes are still producing and will continue as long as we don't have any sharp frosts, sometimes until Christmas, obviously not in any great quantity but enough to give us a flavour of summer.

We have a new ram called Russell who we put in with the sheep last week. We've had a change of breed, he has a smaller head, in the hope that they will lamb easier, time will tell, no doubt you will get to hear in about 5 months time.

Sally had lots of babies, 16 in total, but she ended up with 11, so she has done really well. Lily is out with her boyfriend, but she isn't being very amourous so nothing is happening at the moment.

The cows and calves are all doing well.

The turkeys have arrived, so we all know what that means, 10 weeks so I'm told. Talking of which, we're fully booked for our Christmas lunch here in the shop.

As with last year when it becomes dark at 4.30pm we will close the shop half an hour earlier, we find not many come in after dark, probably due to the fact that we don't have any street lighting!!

Tomorrow may see the start of our extension, I will report more on that next time, if it happens.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Late summer.

Winter months and dark evenings seem to be so much easier for doing things on the computer, hence no blogs since April.

Since I last wrote we've had 9 cows calf, not all successfully sadly, but most are doing well. Our calves have taken on a royal theme this year as a little heifer calf was born on the same day as Princess Charlotte and the others born around the same time were named George, William and Kate.  Beatrice and Eugenie were born a while later, we're waiting on the sex of the last ones before deciding on names for them.

In June we got the marquee out, the summer furniture and the best china for an afternoon of cream teas with strawberries. We had 50 people for an enjoyable, chillaxed time. Just recently now in August we had a barbeque with a salad bar, followed with delicious puddings and then the star attraction a tractor and trailer ride, the sun shone magnificently and a good time was had by all. We've been really busy in the shop with quite a few holiday makers around as well as all our regulars. We've been doing quite a few catering jobs as well, so it really has been busy, busy.

The weather hasn't been particularly helpful this year (what's new) for making hay or growing veg. Because we try to use as much of our own veg for our meals and obviously in our veggie boxes there has been very little veg to sell in the shop. This does cause some aggravation for some customers that come to a farm shop expecting to find veg, the trouble is, we have always in the past prided ourselves that we only sell what we grow ourselves. But as the shop gets busier and busier this may be an area where things have to change. 

All of our meals are made using our own meat. We are very proud of all the meat we produce here on the farm and are passionate about our animals and their well being. Our beef is grass fed to it's full age of 30 months.  Our pigs are Tamworth X and produce tasty orange pigs, our sausages are our best seller, and I don't understand why our lamb is so good, but it really is, it has so much flavour. We don't rear our own chicken, but we only use local free range and would never compromise for cheap. And seeing as it's very topical, our milk is also local, as is the cheese and butter, and fish that we serve. 

As you may have seen on my Twitter feed, I have been having trouble getting Openreach to come and move a pole which was stopping the extension going ahead.  They were paid in full back in March and had ignored all my attempts to find out what was happening. Eventually someone decided it had been rather a long time happening and decided to kick some butts.  The pole has been moved now, but not completed!  So now we can hopefully proceed.

Our holiday has been and gone, looking forward to the next one.  If you haven't had yours, have a good one.



Thursday, 23 April 2015

Time is flying.

We're fast approaching the back end of April, where has the year gone.

We've enjoyed a few dry weeks of spring where we have achieved some planting. Main crop potatoes have gone in, parsnips, a few beetroot and broad beans.  Unfortunately some of the workforce have been suffering a nasty virus that seems to have a domino effect so not as much has been done as we would have liked, but we have plenty of time still.

Most of the animals are out now which makes life a lot easier. Last years calves have just been weaned which means a few noisy days and nights and they remain in the yard for a while longer. Some of the cows will be calving soon.

Lily has been scanned today and is expecting, but she has been put on a diet as the vet said she was too fat!!  Sally has 8 ginger babies. The last of the last litter are being processed this weekend along with 4 of last years lambs, which make far better meat in my opinion then new seasons lamb.

The remaining goat produced a little girl during the week, so we have a total of 3 kids, in the true sense of the word. They really are a delight to see.

The veggie boxes get a little thin on the ground this time of the year with veg as we are now at the end of the winter veg but the spring ones are not quite there.
We have spinach, salad leaves, radish, purple sprouting, spring cabbage, leeks and carrots.

The shop remains buoyant with our regulars for teas, coffees, cake and lunches, today was fish pie, tomorrow will be beef bourguinnon, takeaways are also quite popular.  Catering events pop up reasonably often and are always an added bonus.

The Baptisms went well, and the cow trough will probably be called upon again.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Is spring here?

2 weeks since my last post and we're nearly half way with the lambing.  So far, so good, they are fine lambs, but as usual it hasn't happened without a lot of help from us, mainly due to big heads and large feet with a small exit.  Most of them are coming out black, but they will end up white with a black face no doubt.  The weather has been kind so far, let's hope it continues as we start to move them outside permanently.

The cows all passed the TB test for which we were all thankful.  Unfortunately not all are in calf so they will be departing relatively soon, needs must. The next beef will be available in May, this will be a Devon X Aberdeen Angus. Calving will have commenced by then to start the process all over again.

Lily arrived home yesterday, hopefully in pig.  Sally is due with her next litter in 2-3 weeks.  We have 5 left from the last litter, the pork has been outstanding from them. Last time I told you about a customer who enjoyed the sausages, she gave us a very good trip adviser review, thankyou.

The tunnels have been pleasant to work in this week.  The broad beans have germinated as have my tomatoes.  We planted seed potatoes which will hopefully be ready in 90 days, in my reckoning that is early June.  On the veg that is ready now we still have carrots, potatoes, beetroot, 3 types of kale, cabbages, leeks, purple & white sprouting, turnips, salad leaves and spinach.  We have so much rocket we made some pesto with it this evening, went down well at suppertime with some garlic mushrooms.

I went on a marketing course on Wednesday morning, we would like to create some new labeling.  It was quite useful and my thoughts are now with our local graphic designer who will try to capture what we do.  It's not easy when we want to say so much in just a label, so watch this space.

As well as selling food in the shop we sell Fairtrade bags and scarves which are both extremely popular. This week we have added a very nice British made range of jewellery, courtesy of my husband.  I think it's lovely, it's colourful, very light to wear as it's made of aluminium and very stylish.

We continue to try and extend the menu in the shop and have recently added panini's to it.  I chose a couple of my regulars as guinea pigs, they were happy to oblige, and tried the first run and they are now a permanent feature.

The weeks fly by, Mothering Sunday approaches, swiftly followed by Easter which usually signals the start of the tourist season. Oasis wiil be shut from Easter until May for the 2nd phase of our refurbishment in the chapel which includes a disabled toilet, bigger kitchen and our upstairs being modernised for youth use.  At Easter Ashley & Sophie are going to be baptised.  We're having to use a cow's water trough, quite apt really.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

All the latest.

I've had quite a few comments in the shop from customers that read the last page and how interesting they found it, so thank you for that, it's always good to hear that people do actually read it.

Lambing is fairly imminent now which means literally 24/7, we have 52 to lamb. They are due in a weeks time but will probably start anytime soon. Tomorrow they will come into the maternity ward. This will be the first from our new ram Stanley.  It would be nice if we could have some dry weather but watching Countryfile as I type I'm not sure if my wish will be granted.

During the week Willow and Lulu gave birth to Bramble a little billy and Fern a little nanny, they truly are gorgeous. They've been to the vet and been de-budded which requires a little anaesthetic but they are fine. Some of our regulars had a little cuddle, I think there will be lots of people wanting them.

We have our dreaded TB test tomorrow, always a difficult week waiting for the results.

Lily is out visiting the home of the boar, but she will have A.I used on her as he is her Dad. Lily is Sally's daughter and this will be her first litter. Sally's last litter are at the moment being sent to slaughter in batches so we have plenty of pork.  We have started taking it to the markets in the village and people are tasting how good it is.  Last week we had a customer from Bristol who loved the sausages and bought £65.00p worth, we like customers like that. It really is rewarding to have customers appreciate quality in a society where cheap seems to be so prevalent.

One new customer said that we didn't have on the web site what vegetables we had at the moment so I will try to address that. At the moment we have, potatoes, we don't do big bags this time of the year, savoy cabbages, curly kale, hungry gap kale, turnips, beetroot, carrots, leeks, purple sprouting, salad leaves, spinach, chard.  We do veggie boxes and they always have priority, what is left then comes into the shop to be sold.  I hope that helps.

We have been quite busy in the shop, there have been a few holiday makers and day trippers around this week.  Cream teas were popular.  We have had a few outside catering jobs to do which boost the takings but also the workload considerably.  We have a very good family team here that all pull together to produce quantities of food when needed.

Tomorrow we start the week with Oasis where we will be serving sausagemeat stuffed chicken thighs wrapped in bacon and rhubarb crumble. The same in the shop on Tuesday. Thursday will be turkey and ham pie, Friday will be turkey, ham, sausagemeat and leek pie. Various delicious homemade puddings will be made throughout the week. We hope to see you soon.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

New Year!!

Haven't done this for ages, so thought I ought to.

All being well and God willing we should have a nice new kitchen by the end of the year, I'd like to think by the summer really, but these things always take longer than you plan. The original kitchen will be integrated into the shop so will eventually give us a bit bigger shop as well, more tables, more selling space, more work! But looking forward to it.

From now until Easter we will probably be reasonably quiet but we remain open for continuity  and to keep our faithful regulars happy - we hope.  This week Andrew and I will be going to Westpoint to source new stock hopefully.  Our criteria is that it has to be British made or Fair Trade.  We recently had a consignment of Fairtrade scarves etc which proved very popular in the shop, they were lovely, we still have some. 

We had our unannounced food hygiene check this past week, we kept our Grade 5 rating so we were pleased about that. We now also have to produce food allergy information, which really is a lot of work as we produce so many different food dishes in the shop.

During the Christmas break period unfortunately 3 sheep died in 2 days which sent us into a slight panic.  Another round of vaccinating both sheep and cows shortly ensued.  No more fatalities, thankfully.

Since I last wrote 4 pygmy goats have arrived on the farm, Lazarus, Lulu, Zaza and Willow, as the names suggest 3 nannies and 1 billy, so babies should be arriving in March, along with a great deal of excitement no doubt from Sophie who they belong to.

For Christmas we produced some hampers which proved quite popular, these will now be regulars throughout the year.

During the winter months we are open from 10.00am - 4.30pm.  On a Monday we provide a lunch for our chapel Oasis club along with a few other savoury snacks and cakes, this is open from 11.00 - 2.00pm and usually myself, Linda or Andrew along with another Church member will be there serving the food and chat. The rest of the week lunches are provided in the shop, most cooked lunches are served at 1.00pm unless pre-arranged.  All of our meals are prepared using our own high quality meat, we only use free range chicken and freshly prepared seasonal veg, usually our own. All eggs used are free range. All our puddings are homemade.

We wish all our customers a healthy New Year, keep eating our food, that will definitely help.