News from the Farm Gate by Milly Fyfe

I can’t believe how mild it has been, the warmest December on record. Nobody can decide if we need to take a coat when leaving the house or not and the heating is on then off like a yo-yo. On the farm we have had our first emergence of daffodils which were in full bloom on Christmas day. Blossom has been budding on the trees and it must be causing hibernating animals a real headache. In some respects it has been a real bonus having mild weather as the livestock has been able to remain out in the field longer as the grass has continued to grow. It has however been ideal conditions for pneumonia and we have had to monitor the cattle carefully.

The knock on effect of the mild weather is that is has been wet, incredibly wet. We have all seen from the news reports the devastation caused up in the north west of England and Scotland after prolonged rainfall. R.A.B.I have once again been at the forefront of the crisis as homes and farmland are destroyed which is a worry in itself, but having to find a new home for thousands of sheep, cows, pigs, horses etc. is an added concern.

The long term effect of the flooding is yet to be understood, however in the short term; R.A.B.I will be there to help bridge the gap with financial grants to support the welfare of farming families and help with the practical side of things too. Often insurance claims can be so lengthy and the initial clean-up cost can be huge which can put a real strain on the situation. With a grant to provide food and clothing or added warmth to a home with heating oil, it can make all the difference when trying to get back to normal. Farmers are a resilient bunch but this tough exterior can’t always be sustained and we encourage those in trouble to call the R.A.B.I confidential helpline on: 0808 2819490. Help is only a phone call away.

Back home on the farm I am starting to build upon my projects with the chickens and pigs. Last time I wrote, I had recently acquired some chickens and last weekend I picked up another three ladies to add to my menagerie. I needed to up egg production as I can’t keep up with demand from my local customers. Word has got around and I have a waiting list of people wanting to sample the delights from Orchard Farm.

In the farm garden it has been relatively quiet although I managed to establish some garlic. Its green shoots have now made an appearance and will hopefully swell into nice bulbs as the month’s progress.

I have also been making plans for the future as I hope to launch a new website and blog soon to talk about food and farming from the farm gate. Watch this space as Orchard Farm Produce will be established during 2016. I’m really excited about the future as there is so much potential for me to develop a farm diversification business.

I’m just about to embark on a two-week leadership course organised by the Worshipful Company of Farmers. Attending this course will really help to focus what my next steps should be and how I can fulfil my ideas for the farm and my potential. I’m incredible lucky that I have secured sponsorship to attend the course and I would like to take this opportunity to thank: Joseph Morris Butchers, Lutterworth, NFU Mutual, Massey Ferguson tractors, Heygates feeds and Strawsons Ltd for all their support.