We’ve harvested our oats and barley, like old times it’s been tipped in a makeshift grain store, created within one of the cattle sheds. Big square bales and plastic sheeting used for the sides, with tarpaulin covering the corn. Cut early, it yielded well, with a fuller grain sample compared with last year. Later in August the unpredictable weather has taken its toll. We’ve had one field of straw which we’ve struggled to get dry enough to bale. The heavy dews and not forecast local showers have been trying. Patience has been required to avoid mouldy straw.
Meanwhile the grain store/wedding party venue is sparkling with fairy lights. You could eat your dinner off the floor, it’s festooned with bunting, the bar and band staging is shaping up. I’ll have to find my dancing shoes! Food and drink sourced locally, top of the menu is our own lamb. It goes without saying cheese plays a key part.
A naked wedding cake has been requested, with each of us baking a different flavour, carrot, lemon, coffee, Victoria and chocolate. Nigel and Hannah are making the crowning glory ‘cupcakes’. This challenge is becoming a family tradition and brings out much light hearted rivalry. We’re currently debating whether naked should be covered with an icing negligee, just in case it’s not quite perfect! I’m dreading the last minute putting it all together, it’s nerve racking.
Our garden is getting a makeover and Tilley has been enthusiastically helping. However she’s totally unrepentant about bringing unwanted debris into the house and happily recovers from her labours, residing in the best chair in the house. ‘My chair’ the leather recliner, which I swore when I bought it secondhand, that no dogs would be allowed on!
Our kitchen table has been busy hosting the preparation for plum pies, apple pies and making juice, and jam etc. Our fruit trees are again laden and I like to make best use of them. On my way home from checking animals I dropped off some spare eggs and received a box of freshly gathered vegetables. I gifted a cake and I received runner beans! Country living is bountiful.
If food shortages happen, the government should be held to account. Today’s policies have created a disconnect between people and how food is produced. A more grounded approach to the food system and improved nutritional education wouldn’t go amiss. Supermarkets championing cheap, poor quality mass produced over packaged food that encourages waste should be resigned to history. It’s time to appreciate that quality food and water is a precious necessity.
Negative media reporting against farming is unforgivable. Cattle in general, beef and dairy appear to be solely blamed for rising carbon emissions and rain forest destruction. We all know the problem is more complex. UK farming high standards should be applauded. A different approach to land management could be used to help mitigate climate change.
Political uncertainty is blocking progress. Food production isn’t instantaneous, but do consumers realise this? Farmers will need time to make necessary changes. Should shortages occur I wonder how the urban population will react. I find that town people are obsessed with shopping, if I run short of something I substitute it with something else. I hardly ever stick to a recipe. Personally, I put off shopping for as long as I can, but when I do venture out, I make it worth my while, so you don’t want to be behind me.
You probably wouldn’t want to get behind us when we are moving our sheep between farms either. Although it’s only a mile between, the sheep tend to embrace the ‘take away’ aspect and enjoy snatching the odd free mouthful along the verges and hedges. Brie does her best to chivy them along but it is not a quick process. We combined our two flocks into one mob of 760 to come home for weaning. The lambs were kept at home and the ewes returned, distance is useful sometimes.
Cliffe Vets organised a pre tupping meeting. Katie Phillips a nutritionalist sheep specialist gave an interesting presentation, packed with facts and figures. Shepherds cannot afford to be complacent. I’m glad I made the effort to attend this meeting. Katie Phillips is a keen advocate of ewe body condition scoring, and ensuring that the ewes receive the correct nutrition accordingly. I didn’t know that it takes four to five months for their eggs to mature in the ovary. Getting the ewe’s feeding regime right during this development time impacts on subsequent production. I have however ticked the box for weaning at least ten weeks before tupping.
I’m getting grumbled at by my daughter for suggesting that she reply to a tweet. On National Burger Day, (something I’d previously not been aware of) someone commented that they enjoyed eating beef burgers but were worried about the destruction of the Amazon Rain Forest. I said ‘why don’t you suggest that they source sustainable locally produced UK meat.’ Immediately she received several vitriolic messages. The dark side of the internet. ‘Trolling’ she called it. I don’t think she meant the trolls that hide under the bridge in the story of the ‘Billy Goats Gruff’. Exchanging views with these indoctrinated extremists is impossible.
I’m enjoying reading stories to my Grandson. I’m delighted to report that his vocabulary now extends from Da da, ma ma to tractor. I have high hopes that he will be heading down the farming route. For his first Birthday I had great fun writing a book entitled ‘George’s Farm Adventure’ it includes our dogs and family members, illustrated by Hazel. A set of books on ‘How food is produced’ aimed at young people before they get misinformed by propaganda is on my list.