News from the Farmgate by Milly Fyfe
It’s harvest time! We have had an incredibly dry spring and summer which has meant that the crops are really far forward. Some people are reporting that this is the earliest they have started harvesting in many years. For us, it won’t be long before we have the combine rolling in the fields of barley. At the moment, we have cut two decent hauls of grass for silage and one cut of hay. We keep most of the silage and hay to feed our own sheep and cattle, with any left-over sold to neighbouring farmers
We are thankful for the warm weather and really cannot complain when you think over the last couple of years it has been such a wash out of a Summer. Only a couple of years ago the machinery was getting stuck in the fields at harvest time because the ground was like a bog.
My vegetable harvest is also coming along nicely. I have started on our new potatoes which taste out of this world. I grew plenty of the variety ‘Charlotte’ which are really tasty salad potatoes but are also quite nice roasted too.
I have picked my first crop of Thai bush beans which are basically the same as our own French beans. I cooked a chicken stir fry and added the beans to the dish which was a treat. Everything else is in flower and it won’t be long before we have an abundance of vegetables to go at. My personal favourite is the homegrown sweetcorn and this time I have grown 4 different varieties including ‘minipop’ which are the small soft sweetcorn you can use in a stir fry.
The squash, courgette and pumpkins are taking over one part of the garden and I’m sure with all these crops that our freezer will be jam packed with goodies to keep us going into the winter months.
I am grateful when we receive a heavy downpour as it saturates the garden and keeps everything looking well. It can become so tiresome watering everything and there is nothing better than a quick shower to help perk everything back up again. Sadly, the weeds enjoy it too!
In other news, I recently changed job to take on a role with the UK Leather Federation, helping to support and promote the leather industry across the country. I’ve been in post for just over a month and I am thoroughly enjoying the new challenge, getting out and about meeting the membership and highlighting the many businesses that form part of the world of leather.
Closer to home, a new leather tannery has been established in Leicestershire called ‘Billy Tannery’. It’s the first tannery to be established in this country for many years. Two young guys have taken on the mantle of creating a new brand with help from a crowd funding campaign, receiving over £30,000 in support to produce one of a kind leather handbags, wallets and card holders. They take goat skins, a bi product from the meat industry, and turn the hides into beautifully crafted goods. You may have caught them on BBC Countryfile a few weeks ago and I definitely think they are a business to watch out for. They certainly have their marketing in order and hopefully they can gather a good customer base to see them through into the future.
The new job is certainly keeping me busy but I’m still finding time to produce pork meat boxes, help out on the farm and attend local country shows where possible. Andrew and I recently attended Blaston Show near Market Harborough. It’s a lovely one day show and we always like to go along and support. Andrew gets involved with the cattle stewarding and for the first time in a very long time I was able to attend a show and enjoy being a ‘punter’ for a change rather than having a job to do on the day. It was nice to catch up with many friendly faces and I even managed to get a bit of shopping done – although that can also be dangerous!
As I mentioned before, it is harvest time so please be patient when out driving on the roads. The farming community only have a short window to get the crops in safely and with more traffic on the roads these days, it can often be a very dangerous place to be. You never know what might be around the corner, a large load turning slowly in a gateway or a combine harvester which fills the road. The harvest only lasts for a few weeks and will ensure that everyone has cornflakes and bread on the table for the next year. Please stay safe and avoid taking unnecessary risks.