It's such a beautiful time of year; the bluebells have been spectacular, and for the first time ever, we had a cuckoo visit , frightening the dogs with his loud call. The young lambs are are so funny to watch, gallivanting around the fields in gangs and then spring up in the air, several feet off the ground. Calving has gone well, the second year for our bull and he's done a fantastic job getting all the cows in calf again and without problems. They bellow like mad mothers, calling their calves, which keep getting away from them under the single strand wire fence. Typical young, they enjoy time out exploring the big field and sleeping in the long grass, but come back when they're hungry!
Although it's raining now and the strong wind is blowing the blossom off the old pear tree in the orchard, this has been a really good spring for the farm. Compared to last year, when the grass hadn't grown at all due to the cold dry weather, this year it's abundant and we'll be hoping to make silage quite early. I'd forgotten what a 'normal' spring was like, sunshine and showers in fair amounts to get crops growing, but better not to get too smug as you never know what's round the corner in farming, especially where weather is concerned!
I've heard a rumour going round, that there's a heat wave due to arrive in the next two weeks, with warm weather blowing across from Spain. Although not from any source I can rely on, it's got me thinking about barbecues and planning one for the next bank holiday. We cooked some of our plain pork sausages last weekend over an oak wood fire, nice and slowly and, yum, they tasted so, so good and really different from the usual fry up in the kitchen. Sometimes I think we get carried away with trying new recipes and cooking exotic ingredients when simple can be best. A couple of sausages, a medium rare Higher Hacknell steakburger with a generous helping of our special family recipe barbecue sauce is just the best and needs nothing more than a fresh green salad and a decent bread roll to go with it. What makes the difference is using 'good' ingredients-our home made sausages are a very high proportion of organic pork, with only 10% breadcrumb and seasoning to bind them together, and naturally we don't use any preservatives or additives in our organic sausages. Our quarterpound steakburgers consist of nothing but pure home bred beef with a seasoning of salt and freshly ground pepper, and they're gluten free too. If you need tempting further weve got the barbecue special on offer for just 17.50 until the Bank Holiday.
Halal slaughter has been on the news a lot recently and as I've had several enquiries I think I should explain how our animals are slaughtered, without wishing to offend. There are no halal methods used at the local slaughterhouse where we take our animals. They go in our trailer the short distance from here to a small abattoir in Combe Martin where they are killed humanely with stunning in the presence of a vet. Then the carcasses are brought back to our farm butchery where they are dry aged and hung on the bone to improve texture and flavour before butchering. There is complete traceability and you can be assured of the provenance of everything you buy from us, which is checked and inspected by the Soil Association in order to verify our organic certification.
And lastly, Ellie, our youngest, put some pictures together in a spring video clip for our Higher Hacknell Facebook page and blog when she was back home recently, and it features our new farm sign beautifully painted by local signwriter Sarah Harvey. After 29 years a new one was definitely due. I hope you like it too and that you will 'like' our Facebook page.
I hope you are enjoying Spring and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Jo, Tim and all at Higher Hacknell Farm