News From the Farmgate by Milly Fyfe

The New Year is in full swing and we are starting to feel the benefit from the slightly longer nights. The whiff of spring cannot be too far away and we are already planning ahead at Orchard Farm with new animals and new crops on the horizon. 

In a couple of weeks we are going to look at a puppy to accompany our current Labrador Maggie. She is 4 years old and we feel it would be nice to bring on another dog. We have plenty of space indoors and outdoors for a young dog to play and be trained. And as we are around most of the time we are able to give another dog the attention it will need. 

During the Christmas period we found out about a litter of kittens being reared by a neighbouring farm. As everyone who lives in an old house or in the countryside will know, you will always have mice and sometimes rats trying to come into the house or make a nest within the straw stack. Rodents will start to come into the warm after the harvest and as you can imagine, a farm yard has lots of food and shelter, the ideal habitat for such creatures. For a couple of weeks I had a mouse take refuge in our larder and took a fancy to some packets of crisps. I took it upon myself to set a few traps but it took a while to catch him as he had gorged on so much he wasn’t interested in the chocolate buttons I had laid for him. After a while my cunning plan worked and I was mouse-less, for a while at least! So, to cut a long story short we have reserved two kittens who will shortly be joining our brood on the farm. 

We had lots to celebrate over the festive period. Andrew took a few cattle to the Rugby prime stock show to display and sell. The event focussed on showcasing the very best in ‘butchers’ type beef animals, with the judge looking at the animal live with the end product in mind. Andrew was lucky enough to win two of his classes and was entered into the championship. Whilst he didn’t win this, he subsequently went on to win the reserve championship at the Market Harborough prime stock show and sale. We were both chuffed to bits and came away with some lovely silverware and rosettes. It is a great feeling to be recognised for producing quality animals and we were pleased that the beef animals were purchased by Joseph Morris butchers for their numerous shops locally. 

Over the last few months we have been focussing our attention on doing up the farmhouse. We just about got everything ready for Christmas with some seating in the living room and a cleared dining room table to entertain our hungry visitors. On Christmas day I produced a homegrown meal of pork, potatoes, sprouts, carrots, beans and parsnips as well as a few shop bought 

additions including a turkey crown. We had plenty left over, as I’m sure you did too, and consequently have been thinking of meals to create. My current repertoire has been curry, pie or risotto! 

This spring we hope to continue house renovations with a new kitchen. Every farmhouse should have a good kitchen and its definitely the heart of our home. Everything happens in the kitchen and it’s also the warmest room in the house thanks to the Aga being on day and night. I can’t wait to see the transformation take place although I have a feeling it will take a lot longer than I would hope. I am starting to think about meals I can produce now to warm up in the microwave during the upheaval. 

In February I will make the journey north once again to the Stirling bull sales. At present there are over 100 Shorthorn bulls entered and 44 females too. It’s going to be a busy time as the Shorthorn society also hold their AGM and dinner during the weekend for the membership.  

I’m a real fan of setting goals throughout the year. In 2016 I set myself 12 goals and achieved 10 of them with making some progress on the other two. I’ve got a lot to look forward to in 2017 and I hope to tick a few of my goals, including a few new ones, and I hope to be able to share my news as things unfold. Wishing you a prosperous 2017.