News from the Farm Gate by Milly Fyfe (Ed 114)
Isn’t it satisfying to cook a meal from scratch with ingredients you produced yourself? I decided that on a blustering evening I would make toad in the hole with mash potato and cauliflower to accompany along with some meaty gravy. I am proud to say that everything on our plate was grown on the farm and tasted amazing. What’s more is that it tasted so fresh and you can’t beat the tenderness of the vegetables.
I am currently waiting for my pumpkins and butternut squash to ripen. I can’t believe how fast the plants grow and how they sprawl out across the garden. It’s like a jungle of spiky leaves intertwined with green and orange fruit. I am sure once ready I will be able to make some hearty soup for the colder months to come.
Last month we picked up some Oxford sandy and black piglets. We fancied a change from the Gloucester old spot pigs we have had in the past. They are growing really fast and have been enjoying basking in the autumn sunshine whilst chomping on the fallen apples and plums in the orchard. They should be ready by mid-October and I am hoping to produce some more pork meats boxes to sell locally.
Since starting my new job with the beef and dairy shorthorn society I haven’t stopped. Whilst the show season is almost over I am now gearing up for the autumn sales. We have a new sale at Worcester market as well as several other sales at Beeston in Cheshire, Skipton in Yorkshire and also Stirling Bull sales in Scotland. This is a prime opportunity for farmers to pick up some pedigree shorthorn animals to help replenish their herds. The breed is enjoying a great resurgent with Defra reporting that there has been a 1400% increase in Beef Shorthorn (breeding females) in the last 10 years.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have, a behind the scenes tour of the Morrison’s meat processing plant. They currently process 30,000 pigs a week and 250 cows a day.
Whilst it might seem a bit gruesome to watch the whole process, in order to really understand the whole supply-chain you have to accept the reality of being a meat eater and what it takes to put products onto the supermarket shelves. Morrison’s are just about to launch a Beef Shorthorn branded range and I had a sneaky peak in the dry age fridge before it is ready for packaging. The joints had great intermuscular fat as well as well-formed eye muscle. I can’t wait to sample the final product! Keep an eye out for the Shorthorn branded products that will be available in selected store soon.
At the end of this month I am attending the world steak awards in London. I feel honoured to be invited and I am sure will be a great networking opportunity. I have encouraged a few shorthorn producers and butchers to enter. It will be interesting to see what the competition is like having never been involved before.
Whilst the nights are starting to draw it is nice to get cosy in front of the fire and settle down to one of our favourite programme – Strictly Come Dancing. And when we are not busy outside in the yard, we have started to make headway with renovations to the farmhouse. It is slow but steady progress but we have just about completed the overhaul of our bathroom which will hope- fully be futureproof. Our next task is to tackle the kitchen but we might hold off until 2017 as we fear it will be quite disruptive ahead of the festive season. We also need to earn some more money! We are really enjoying the challenge although it does take some time. One of the bedrooms has three layers of old wall paper to strip but it is good to see the difference we are making already.
Enjoy the harvest festival season and celebrate all that is great about British produce.
You can follow Milly on twitter @millyfyfe or @Orchard_Produce or visit wwwmillyfyfe.com