News from the Farmgate

After two months, I can safely say that our lambing season is officially over. Thankfully the weather has been kind to us and we have been able to turn the ewes and lambs out into the fields quite quickly. The grass is also growing well so there is plenty of food for them all. We had relatively few problems this year and no orphan lambs to feed which is always a bonus. I recall only one real problem lambing and that was with a ewe that was scanned in lamb with three offspring. We really struggled to help her give birth and after a while realised that in fact she only had one lamb inside her. As she had been given extra food to provide her with all the nutrition to rear three lambs it had all gone into this one lamb making it a real whopper. Thank goodness we didn’t have to call the vet out and I am pleased to say that both ewe and the gigantic lamb are doing Ok. 

Most of the cows have also had their calves and they too are out grazing in the fields. Sadly, we had one cow die very suddenly. The vet was in a real puzzle when she saw the cow before she was put down. Its stomach seemed to have dropped below her udder like some kind of hernia. The vet had never seen anything like it and we hope we never see this again. So as a result, I am now bottle feeding her calf three times a day. I have affectionately called the calf ‘Amber’ and enjoy being her surrogate mother giving her lots of attention until she gets bigger and can go out with the rest of the herd. Some of the kids from the village were keen to help out and feed the calf however she is actually quite strong and very thirsty so I have taken back full responsibility. 

We have had more mice issues, this time in my polytunnel. The mice have got in and keep stealing my sunflower and sweetcorn seeds. They have even nibbles the leaves off the sunflower plants and left me with the stalks. I have taken action and moved all my sunflowers and sweetcorn pots into the house to germinate in the hope that they can get established and hopefully become more mouse-proof! 

Last weekend we took delivery of some more Gloucester Old Spot weaners. These are 7/8th pure and we are not quite sure what they are crossed with but they are growing quickly. We hope to have some more meat boxes available at the beginning of June for our loyal customers. Recently the BBC featured a news feature on rare and traditional breeds. The Gloucester Old Spot pig was one of the breeds that is starting to become quite endangered. It’s good to know that we are doing our bit here at Orchard Farm as believe it or not, by eating the breed it actually helps to preserve it. It also creates a demand for the meat. You can really taste the difference with the meat compared to faster growing animals. I would also recommend looking out for Herdwick lamb and Shorthorn Beef or any traditional breeds for that matter. 

Our farmhouse renovation work continues. Dry rot has been found in the kitchen and living room and so Andrew has started pulling up the floorboard to try and combat the fungus. Although there is a lot of upheaval I am looking forward to getting a new kitchen installed over the summer. I’m hoping for some good weather in the meantime as I think the only cooking I will be doing is on a BBQ. Or maybe I will be lucky enough to be taken out every now and again... 

Our new puppy Lou Lou has well and truly settled in. She has been following the Labrador around and picking up some good manners along the way. I have been taking her to puppy classes which has helped. I just can’t seem to keep her away from the cat food which she steals when I’m not looking. It must be tastier than the food I am feeding her or maybe she enjoys the challenge because she knows she shouldn’t eat it.  

Let’s hope for some warm weather and we can all enjoy the beautiful countryside this Summer.