June 15th 2011

June News 2011

Please accept my apologies for the glitch with the newsletter which you received many times over last month. Our website manager was on holiday so I pressed the wrong button. It won't happen in future as he's removed the other buttons, so I can't get it wrong again!

The wet weather and showers today are worth a penny a raindrop as Tim said, but it's come just as we want to start silage making ! We've been desperate for rain, the ground is hard as rock and the grass is burnt off in places. It looked more like August in April, but now it's come we also want a few dry days!! Getting the grass harvested by making silage and hay is the main job to be done in June.

Last Saturday the sun shone for shearing , so the sheep are pretty cool now, looking good with their sleeker look! I met someone at the farmers market the other day who runs a spinning group, so after 30 years gathering dust I'm determined this year to get the spinning wheel out and start turning the odd fleece into yarn. If you are a spinner or felt maker and would like fleeces please let me know as they can be sent to you. Also we supply our own gorgeous sheepskins which are great camping mattresses at this time of year!.

Our work on the farm is completely weather dependent so planning ahead is impossible when it's so unpredictable. June is a great month for parties, picnics and barbecues so I hope you'll be lucky with your plans. Our barbecue box has got it all and just the job to have ready in the freezer for whenever that mini heatwave hits us! We can also cater for larger parties and events, so phone or email me if I can help you with catering. When you are busy at home or even on holiday, our ready made meals, lasagne, cottage pie and beef casseroles are a perfect solution, home made, slowly cooked in small batches with real taste. We are happy to send to any UK address, wherever you plan to spend the summer.

Hardly a day goes by without a food or farming story hitting the headlines. Good news this week: the government are publishing their proposals on conserving nature. It's exciting that at last they are talking about putting a value on the countryside and recognise it's wider benefits, but we think that food production should be a part of the process. Do we want a divided countryside of a few mega farms intensively producing food on one hand , with a protected 'zone' for tourism, recreation and a few rare species on the other? Organic farming may not be the complete solution, but it's the best system for producing food with least damage to the environment and careful use of resources that's around, touching on so many issues. Bad news: the e-coli outbreak has become much more than a food poisoning disaster, and it's a reminder of the importance of antibiotics for treating humans and the potential danger of misusing them in intensive farming systems. The organic standards emphasise that good husbandry and management are the best tools for healthy livestock with antibiotics used only for emergency treatment and not routinely.

And finally, our 'Ruby Red' cow has calved at last. She was so enormous, wider than she is tall, so every day we thought would be 'the' day-how could she get any bigger? Last Sunday morning our neighbour rang to tell us she was wandering up the lane about half a mile away, so we jumped out of bed, rushed up the lane to get her and bring her back.She had probably gone on her journey to find a nice place to calve.A couple of hours later I was transplanting lettuces in the vegetable garden and Tim said he needed a hand. The calf's leg had got stuck so she needed some help, and with a bit of assistance all was well. But it was only the one calf, by the size of her I can't believe it wasn't twins. Hopefully she's now settled and won't be wandering off any more, at least not on Sundays.

With best wishes

From Tim and Jo and all at Higher Hacknell Farm