Snowdrops, primroses and 'lents', as they call the wild daffodils here, are just coming out in the hedgerows and on a sunny day like today, you'd believe spring is on its way. But after a very cold and grey February, the land is still in its winter clothes looking anything but green. Usually the younger 'leys' of grass are growing by now, ready to turn out the ewes and lambs later in the month, but it's been a hard winter and things are behind.
At least these last couple of weeks have been dry and Tim has been able to get on the land. First of all, muck spreading - which is probably the most important job of all for us organic farmers, putting the fertility from the animals back on the land, recycling waste. You might think I've been living in the countryside too long if I said how the muck smelled good the other day!! It must have been the positive feeling in the air that this was the start of spring cultivations, but when animals are kept properly on straw which combines with the dung, it really smells quite healthy, not the unpleasant stench of slurry which you get with intensively housed animals. However I did keep my distance when taking this photo just in case I got splattered! I think all these things affect the quality of our food and if it's not farmed well, it doesn't taste good either. Next it's ploughing which is done by a local contractor who arrived yesterday and then Tim will harrow and work the soil before drilling the spring wheat. There's plenty to do, but always weather dependent, if it rains now, the ground will be too wet to cultivate and plant, but then if there's too little rain, the grass won't grow either.
We still have plenty of lambs so there won't be any shortage when Easter comes. Older lamb is often called hoggett, and is being talked up by food writers as being more mature in flavour and since we hang our meat well, also very tender. At this time of year when grass is short, the lambs graze root crops, tucking into turnips instead of bought in concentrate feed as we prefer that all our produce is fully traceable; even the food our animals eat is home grown.
Do get your Easter orders to me soon. Last delivery date will be Thursday 28th March with no delivery on the Friday that week as it is Good Friday, with last orders by Sunday 24th, earlier if possible. I do like a traditional roast leg of lamb at Easter but I'll also cook a turkey and a gammon too as I like to have some cold and maybe a picnic or a pie. We are grounded in March and April during lambing time, and with family and extra people staying to help us, there's lots of cooking to do. It's Pie Week this week, so do check out some pie recipes on our Facebook page and post any good recipes you have too.
I hope you all enjoy Mothers' Day this Sunday.
With best wishes
Jo and Tim and all at Higher Hacknell Farm