News from the Farmgate by Milly Fyfe

Our daffodils are in full bloom, daylight hours have increased and you can feel warmth in the sun – it must be spring! It makes a real difference having more daylight hours in the day. Not only can you get more jobs completed outside but it has a real effect on our laying hens. Our 14 chickens have been producing some fantastic eggs over the winter, with an average of 5-6 eggs each day. Now with the weather warming up and the daylight lasting longer we are up to 10-12 eggs daily. 

Today our first lambs arrived, a beautiful set of twins. Only 299 more sheep to lamb! We had the sheep scanned a short while ago and we were delighted to find that only a small handful were not in lamb. We feel it is really important to have our sheep scanned as it helps us to know how many lambs to expect and to provide the correct nutritional requirements for each ewe, dependent on how many lambs they are expecting. 

Our cows have also started calving. We have 50 cows to calve over the coming weeks. The vet helped assist us with a synchronisation programme so we have a short window where lots of the calves are due. Hopefully this will help us become more efficient, however we now realise that 19 cows are due on the same day. I think we might be busy... 

A few weeks ago we picked up a new puppy Dalmatian which we have called Lou Lou. She has fitted in well and our Labrador has allowed the puppy to start sharing her bed. The two dogs have already bonded and their favourite pastime is playing ‘chase me Charlie’ around the kitchen table. Lou Lou had her second injection last week so I have been able to take her on short walks around the village and socialise her with other dogs. I have also booked her into puppy training classes which I am looking forward to. I will keep you all posted with how we get on. 

The polytunnel is starting to fill up with seedlings and plants that I have been bringing on. So far I’ve got my potatoes chitting as well as leeks, tomatoes and some rocket for salads Before long it will be bursting full with lots of goodies. This year I have acquired some interesting vegetable seeds inspired by our recent trip to Thailand including some ‘Yard Long Beans’. It’s going to be a challenge to get the seeds to germinate in our climate, but if I manage it I will have to include some pictures in one of my future columns. I could even be in the running for the longest bean competition at the autumn produce shows! 

Recently the local BBC radio station visited our village for a feature on ‘In your Community’. A select few were invited to the local pub for an outside broadcast talking about village life and what part we play. I was able to talk about the animals we care for on the farm and the food we produce including our pork meat boxes and the eggs we sell from the farm gate. It really helped to put our village on the map. Apparently, each Monday the radio station visits a different village and interviews locals about the community they live in. 

Away from the farm I have the privilege of being matron of honour for my best friend who gets married in April. At the beginning of March, 20 hens descended on London for two days of fun, sending off our friend in style ahead of her forthcoming nuptials. Organising 20 ladies who are ‘country bumpkins’ around London was a bit of a challenge however it was great to take part in different activities that took us out of our comfort zone. I’m now looking forward to the big day, with the wedding taking place in rural Somerset. 

Our next batch of pigs will arrive on the farm in the coming weeks so that will keep me busy. We continue to receive positive feedback on the sausages and joints that we produce from our Gloucester Old Spot pigs. The comments we have received recently include ‘ the best they have ever tasted’ and ‘these sausages are much tastier than what you buy in the supermarket’. You can’t beat responses like that! It makes you proud to do what you do.