Michaelmas at the end of September is the start of Autumn and for us its really the beginning of another farming year, a time we look forward as well as back. It was 26 years ago when Tim and I arrived at Higher Hacknell Farm is a small bright blue van with our new young collie dog, 'Nip'! It was an exciting time, and though Nip is no longer with us, he was succeeded by Ned and now Tig, so the years have passed and each one is never the same as the last!
Every season has its routines and rhythms. It's a relief to reach this 'end of year' knowing the harvest is in. Certainly this year has been better than the last one, despite the dry spring. At least we reckon on having enough grass, hay and silage for the stock over winter, whereas last year we had a worrying shortfall. There has been a good crop of barley which we have clamped in storage and lastly we dug the potatoes. We only grow a few rows at the edge of the corn field, enough for the house and our ready made meals, mash for the award winning cottage pie!
The first event of the 'new year' is getting the rams ready for tupping. They get their job done in about 2 to 3 weeks, going in with ewes at the end of October when the daylight hours are shorter and they naturally start to be ready, going on heat. It's really important for good conception and plenty of lambs next spring that the ewes and rams are healthy with good nutrition, so having plenty of grass still growing will hopefully help the job! With a few weeks to go before work starts, the rams are getting impatient and often let out their frustration on each other by fighting, so we have to keep an eye on them as we don't want them to injure themselves at this stage!
It is also peak time from now, moving towards Christmas, in the butchery. I'm not one for getting the decorations out in September, when you're still basking in scorching sunshine as we were last week. So the Christmas list will go on the website this month with more details in the next newsletter. Our ready meals are continuing on the road to success with a Gold Taste of the West Award for the Beef Lasagne. We also picked up another Gold Award for our French-trimmed rack of Lleyn Lamb. We are really pleased to get this kind of endorsement for our products and we also particularly value your comments so if you feel inspired, do put a product review on our website www.higherhacknell.co.uk - the review button is on each product page but you need to be logged in to create a review.
With Halloween to come at the end of month, don't forget the sausages for roasting on the bonfire! We'll be celebrating too at our annual cider making - lots of apples this year to turn into the amber nectar!
With very best wishes
Jo and Tim and all at Higher Hacknell Farm