In the last month all but 1 of our 300 ewes have given birth so Spring has very much arrived! There are ewes and lambs in almost every field now, bleating and baaing and doing what sheep do! It's not been an easy time, especially compared with the last few years when we have been basking in hot sunshine at this time of year. The weather was terrible at the start of lambing, wet and windy and we kept the ewes and newborn lambs in barns as long as we could; then turned them out into the most sheltered fields, protected from the bitter east wind, where they could huddle behind the hedges. They have done amazingly well, surviving one of the worst Springs we can remember, and we've had good lambing percentages with mostly twins, some singles and quite a lot of triplets. The main difficulty now is waiting for the grass to grow; a week ago it was yellowy brown and burnt dark purple at the tips from wind and frost and it looked like the Siberian tundra, but recent rain has softened the ground and its slowly greening up.
However in terms of the weather, Spring is well behind. Usually there's early pear blossom in the orchard by now and they say by April the winter wheat should be high enough to hide a hare, but the oats Tim sowed last Autumn wouldn't even cover a field mouse! We saw the first swallow arrive last Saturday, 13th April and on checking the diary it was 1st April last year, so hopefully they are a sign warmer weather is on its way. The new bull we bought at the South Devon Herd Book sale this time last year has proved himself and we've had about a dozen calves born in the last couple of weeks, one just half an hour ago and another calving as I write, which we are keeping a close eye on. So far, so good, and they have calved unassisted, apart from one which we had to help just before going out to a party, where I arrived a bit late with the calving ropes still in my pocket!
In the butchery we are preparing for a busy couple of weeks of shows and Food Festivals. Next weekend, 26th -28th April we'll be at the Exeter Food & Drink Festival with a superb meat display and cooking our delicious 100% beef steak burgers. Find us in the big tent in Northernhay Gardens on stall 5-40, and do come and say hello. A few days later, I'll be off in the van up to London for the Real Food Festival which is being held at the Southbank, near the Festival Hall on the bank holiday weekend 3rd -6th May. You might need to wake me up if I've fallen asleep behind the stall as It's open from 12-9pm over the four days! Do pre order meat to collect on the day, or see what we've got on the day to tempt you. If we can't, then maybe the live music and cookery demonstrations by top chefs such as Raymond Blanc can, and it's FREE, so for more infomation checkout their website or our Facebook page.
I hope to see you soon, but all our meat can be ordered on the website www.higherhacknell.co.uk - Look out for our monthly special offers and excellent value Spring Meat Box.
Tim and Jo and all at Higher Hacknell Farm
p.s calf now born, all doing well.