What a fantastic month weve had, plenty of sunshine and a dash of rain, and silage and hay in plenty! I cant remember a year like it, usually were moaning that its too wet to cut or so dry theres not enough of a crop, but apart from very frustrating machinery breakdowns, its happy harvesting at Higher Hacknell Farm!
While Tims on his tractor working round the clock, Ill check the stock and on a summer morning, with the mist still lingering, it feels pretty special. The cattle are in no hurry to get up, and for them the living is pretty easy, abundant grass to feed on and sun on their backs. The sheep are doing well on the lush white and red clover, a feature of organic farming systems, fixing nitrogen back in the soil, and this week the first of the new season lambs are fit to go.
The peas have flowered, the pods are filling out in amongst the barley. Its a very traditional crop, but is back in vogue as a method of growing protein together with the corn, and we prefer to be self- sufficient in feed, rather than buying in imported soya, to supplement the stock in winter. We always like to grow a few rows of potatoes for ourselves and for the home made ready meals in the field, and this year, our son Jim, planted a long row of onions as well.
Hes just got a job as assistant gardener at River Cottage HQ in Axminster, so we wont be seeing so much of him. Ive always found that a roast Sunday lunch is a reliable way of tempting the family home, but with all the treats he gets to try there, Ive got a hard act to follow! So when he dropped by last weekend we barbecued some beef short ribs, a cut Ive been keen to try out for a while. Id done some good casseroles with them last winter, but this time I marinated them in a dry rub of peppers and spices, then put the dish in the bottom of the Aga at a very low temperature overnight and the next day finished off the cooking on a wood fire to give them a lovely smoky flavour. I recommend they are definitely worth a try, especially with a few fat sausages cooked on the barbecue alongside.
Last week the local Ramblers Association visited and we had an interesting afternoon walking around the farm and talking about what we do and various issues. Antibiotic resistance has been in the news in the last few days, even David Cameron has highlighted the need to develop new antibiotics, but in using, "more antibiotics on healthy animals than on unhealthy humans." as Dr Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organisation says, these would be as vulnerable to resistance as the current ones. One of our customers at the Farmers Market was asking me about it, so I explained that we do not use routine antibiotics as organic farming practices ensure that animals are kept in healthy conditions in the first place. Antibiotics are used occasionally when a sick animal really needs treating and then the withdrawal time has to be triple the statutory length. In intensive agriculture antibiotics are frequently used routinely and preventatively in order to reduce disease risk and promote growth, which we definitely dont agree with.
The holiday season is here now, so if you have family gatherings and parties, there is plenty of choice on the website from bumper barbecue boxes to long slow roasting joints. Check out our special offers too with pork leg down in price this month to 11.50 per kg and pork steaks down by 1.50 per kg.
I hope youre enjoying the summer too. We look forward to hearing from you soon-order by Sunday for delivery next week on either Thursday or Friday.
Jo and Tim and all at Higher Hacknell Farm