People often ask me if the life of a farmer is very hard, imagining the early start to the day and back breaking toil, but it's a lot easier than being a model, as I recently found out. I took part in a photo shoot to promote the Exeter Food and Drink Festival which takes place at the end of April and wanted to take something impressive. I reckoned a 4 bone rib of beef would look pretty good, but had second thoughts after arriving at Michael Caines' restaurant having struggled with it under my arm from a carpark the other side of Exeter and then had to hold it aloft for the group photo. It was not just a matter of a quick click of the camera, we had to wait for everyone to line up , Michael Caines had to change his jacket and people went backwards and forwards rearranging various props and tablecloths, while my arms felt like dropping off. I thought that would be it, but then the photographer mentioned doing some 'intimate meat pictures'! Being cautious, I let the ice cream producers go before me (they were facing melt down)!
As well as photographing meat, and you may have noticed we've added lots of pictures to the website lately, we've been busy supplying our friends at River Cottage with our delicious lamb burgers, which are now in the Bristol Canteen, as well as Axminster and Plymouth. Sam, the ex chef at Axminster, is starting up his own restaurant at the Blagdon Inn in Somerset and from next week we will be supplying them too. Nearer to home, The New Inn at Roborough has put our very tasty herby pork sausages on their menu, so it's great to know that you can go out to eat and get local and fully traceable meat. So many restaurants say they buy locally or ethically but I sometimes wonder how committed they really are, so it's reassuring when they go directly to a farm such as ours to buy ingredients.
Back on the farm, Tim is waiting for a sight of the first swallows to arrive, but so far it's just our children returning home from overseas. Our son Jim came back from Mexico and is going to be our lambing assistant this year, and Rosy who has been working as a vet for an animal charity in India, arrives next week and will hopefully lend a hand too. I saw a couple of Canada geese fly over the house this morning and they usually come about this time of year to nest on our ponds (if my spaniel Buddy leaves them alone).
Last year's lambs, or hoggetts as they are called, are grazing the rape and turnips Tim planted last autumn, and love to have something fresh and green to tuck into at this time of year when there isn't much grazing available. We are getting very short of fodder for the cattle and the ewes, who are housed ready for lambing. Last year's dry summer and late spring meant that our yields of hay and silage were down, so we're anxious that stocks will last as we like the animals to have all home grown feed and don't want to be forced to buy in feed for them.
It's beginning to look like there's better and drier weather on the way and we are so ready for it! Tim has bought a new dung spreader (not something I get very excited about!) but he's very pleased with it as it has very good tyres which make it possible to go on the land when it's still a bit wet and not make a mess or cause damage to the soil structure. Getting the manure on the fields is all important to us organic farmers and it's perfect recyling, using waste product to fertilise this seasons crops. He's now worried that if we don't get any rain the dung won't wash in. Have you ever met a happy farmer?
It's Mother's Day at the end of the month, so remember to order a lovely joint of meat now, so you or your family are ready to cook a perfect roast dinner to celebrate together. Please order by Sunday for delivery on the following Thursday or Friday at www.higherhacknell.co.uk. Look out for our special offers-this week - there's 10% off lamb shoulder.
Look forward to hearing from you soon.
Tim, Jo and the Team at Higher Hacknell Farm