It's party time at the farm and these lucky lads are getting ready to meet our lovely lady ewes! First we have to help them get dressed up with a generous amount of raddle on their chests and then our 8 'rambos' can get together with our 350 ewes ! Now the days are getting shorter, the ewes come into season and will hopefully be 'covered' in a single three week cycle; in week one, we generally mark them with red raddle, which is changed to blue the following week, and maybe another colour for the third so they leave a 'tell tail' sign which means we know roughly when the ewe will lamb and that she is 'in lamb'. It is amazing how quickly the hillside changes colour from the green of the grass and white of the sheep, to red, white and green; those boys work hard! We had a false start the other day when one of them managed to get in with the well grown lambs, but he didn't get away with it for long, as Tim and David caught him before he could do any harm!
It's another festival season with our farm cider making taking place this weekend, when family and friends come over to eat, drink and help pick up the apples in the orchard and turn them into juice on our ancient cider press. There's a wonderful photograph taken by James Ravilious, whose work we greatly admire, of cidermaking here in the 1970s with the caption, 'twas like swallowing razorblades'. I hope things have changed since then! I'll probably cook up a big slow cooked brisket joint which makes delicious pulled beef with barbecue sauce and should be able to feed a crowd with some home grown baked or mash potatoes. We have a few cooking ideas for brisket on the website recipe page , but I like to cook it long and slow, till it falls apart. It is also our special offer of the week at 10 per kg.
It feels like Christmas really begins here after cider making, when your Christmas orders start to come in and we get our preparations under way in the butchery. You'll see the Christmas page is now on the website with a choice of delivery dates, the main one for fresh turkeys being Tuesday 23rd December. Richard, our butcher, will be salting legs of pork for gammon and ham joints in the next few weeks and I'll be making sure we have plenty of meat hanging in our cold room, but do order as soon as possible as some cuts always sell out, such as ribs of beef and fillet. As we only use whole beef carcasses reared at Higher Hacknell Farm, and don't just buy in extra cuts, like most butchers do to fulfill orders, it takes a lot of planning this end and we encourage you not to leave it too late. If you'd like to discuss what you'd like this Christmas, then do call me by phone on 01769 560909 or email, otherwise there is plenty of information on our website www.higherhacknell.co.uk.
But don't forget there's Halloween to come, as well as Guy Fawkes Night. We have a 'bonfire night box' at 27.50, full of our tasty homemade sausages and 100% beef steakburgers which will feed a hungry crowd wanting a warm bite to eat after watching fireworks in the chilly night air. The Autumn colours are beautiful now and our golden brown South Devon cattle look especially stunning at this time of year, blending in with the rusty gold of the larch and turning leaves. The weather has been kind so far and they are still outside at grass, but it's getting wetter and soon they'll churn up the fields with mud, so it will be time for them to come in and our winter farm routines to begin.
Keep in touch in the next busy weeks ahead, and let us help sort out your Christmas meal plans. We look forward to hearing from you soon and you can follow our Christmas preparations in the butchery and on the farm on facebook and twitter.
Tim and Jo and the team at Higher Hacknell Farm