News from the Farm Gate by Milly Fyfe (Ed 112)

In the last few weeks we have managed to construct a poly tunnel in the farm garden. We purchased it online for a real bargain and it was swiftly delivered in flat pack style. We spent a few hours here and there taking our time to piece the parts together and on a calm day, avoiding any windy gusts, we finally hung the plastic over the frame and secured into the ground with fence posts. 

This has become my new haven. When I’m not working you will find me beavering away, planting flowers and vegetables to my heart’s content. It is really satisfying. I have started planting some of the vegetables out into the garden including red cabbage and pak choi. I have protected the young plants from the pigeons with a fleece cover and dropped some slug pellets down for good measure. Fingers crossed they continue to thrive. 

We finished lambing on 7th May and it is a relief that things have gone relatively well. We were amazed to have two sets of quads. Both mothers managed to nurse all of them well considering sheep only have two teats. We also avoided having any orphan lambs so I was partly made redundant from feeding duties which allowed me to get on with other jobs. 

The cows have finally been put out to grass for the summer. It is quite spectacular to see them sprint into the fields and have a play before settling down to chew their cud. You often think they might be crying out ‘yeehaa’ as they buck and charge about before the novelty wears off. 

Some more Gloucester old spot pigs arrived on the farm recently. We have started to pick up quite a trade locally with customers wanting a pig for the freezer. We have also started producing smaller meat boxes to cater for customers who have a smaller freezer or a smaller family to feed. We have had some great feedback so far and so hopefully we will continue to grow this area of the farm enterprise. 

It has been a year since Andrew and I got married. We were lucky to receive lots of cards and a few gifts too to wish us well. These gifts were more farming themed than the tradition of giving paper as a first anniversary. So two more chickens have appeared on the farm as well as a lovely rose named ‘Absolutely fabulous’. We can’t quite believe how quickly a year has gone by! 

Looking ahead there is a lot of debate at present in the farming community regarding the Brexit vote. I have to admit I am still undecided as to which way I will vote. I am not sure I have a level of trust strong enough to ensure our politicians will be able to get their act together if we came out of the EU. However if we did come out of the EU I would hope we could improve border control from a biosecurity perspective similar to Australia and New Zealand. As an island nation we must improve to ensure that we protect our high welfare standards and remain disease free. 

When I travel back into the UK from out of the EU I am so surprised that you can just walk through without any interrogation as to if you have been near wildlife or livestock. When you travel to the US or Oceania you have to declare your profession, have immaculate footwear and in some cases are given a hose down with a chemical treatment. Your bags are also given a good going through too. 

Anyhow, back to reality. It is a glorious day outside today and I am looking forward to making the most of it. On my jobs list today include planting out my courgettes, mucking out the pigs, delivering my eggs and cultivating a new plot in the garden. Andrew has just turned out the last lot of sheep and so hopefully we might find an opportunity for some quality time together this evening. We might even be able to toast our belated wedding anniversary!  

You can follow Milly on twitter @millyfyfe or @Orchard_Produce or visit www.millyfyfe.com

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