October is a mellow month, as the poem says, and a fruitful time when we are gathering the last of the harvest. We lifted the potatoes with the help of Ellie, the day before she started her new university life, and our friend Trevor. Although our land is too stony for commercial potato growing, we can grow a good crop for the mashed potato on our cottage pie ready meals. The apples are looking very plentiful and the prospect of picking them all up for this year's cidermaking at the end of the month is pretty daunting!
Last month I said how worried we were that we didn't have nearly enough silage to get through this winter due to the cold late spring and dry summer. However the mild autumn weather has been brilliant for grass growth and Tim has had a busy time making silage and we seem to have caught up and now have the same number of bales as last year. I've heard them call it an 'open Autumn' when the ground is still warm and the grass keeps growing till late, enabling the cattle to stay out grazing till maybe November, or even Christmas if we are very lucky! It's certainly excellent for fattening our lambs and grass fed beef. As the nights draw in and the clocks go back, it will be tupping time, when the rams go in with the ewes, so the lush grass should help them conceive a good crop of lambs for next year, we hope!
With colder weather on the horizon, I'm looking forward to some slow cooking and have just put a big shin of beef casserole in the oven to cook for several hours. Our Slow Cook Box is ideal for great value winter meals which can be cooked ahead or put in the freezer ready for a busy day. The celebrity chefs on T.V and in the magazines are creating interesting dishes with almost forgotten cuts which can be hard to find, so we are pleased that our online butchery truly offers a bespoke service and if you can't see it on our website then just phone or email me and I'm sure we 'can do' it! Do look at our recipe page for ideas for cooking old fashioned cuts like brisket, which is really tasty as a cold cut with some spicy chutneys and Sam from the River Cottage Canteen gave us his recipe for beef with horseradish and beetroot. This was one of the dishes they did for the T.V series last Autumn which we supplied the meat for. With an abundance of beetroot in our vegetable garden and an uncontrollable horseradish bed, I'm sure to be giving it a try!
As we get closer to Christmas over the coming weeks, we look forward to getting your orders in and being busy in the butchery! We were very excited to receive a Gold for our box scheme at the Soil Association Organic Food Awards in London a few weeks ago and have had a great year with the stars awarded by Great Taste and a silver award at the Taste of the West. However, you are the real judges and your comments and feedback are always welcome as we continually want to offer the best possible service and quality.
We look forward to hearing from you soon
Tim, Jo and all at Higher Hacknell Farm