The drought continues here in North Aston, and we find it somewhat strange that it was only recently declared official when there has been evidence of it for at least the past two months! Some weather reports suggest the dry conditions may continue in the south east of the country until the new year, which would be a huge concern for us and many farms in the local area. Let’s hope that’s not the case and we get some prolonged periods of rain soon. If so then the pasture will hopefully be tricked into thinking it’s spring again and we could see some growth spurts in the grass similar to what occurred in April. With the ground continuing to be impenetrable it could also mean we get to keep the cows outside for longer in the Autumn and into the beginning of the winter, as they wouldn’t be steeped in the mud under the normal, wet conditions if left outside too late in the year.
The ongoing desolate conditions mean we are short on milk and ice cream production hasn’t really happened over August. Fortuitously we had enough spare milk on one occasion to make a batch of raspberry ice cream. However, we’d usually expect to make a new batch of ice cream every week during the school holidays (whilst milk orders are low) but sadly that hasn’t been the case this year. With the start of September and many returning from their summer vacations, it will be a struggle to provide everyone with milk when our weekly orders are at their regular level. We’re currently on the lookout for a dairy cow or two for sale who may be able to help with the deficiency.
There’s been a slight hiccup in the progress of our oat milk trials. We have the product approved by our environmental health officers but with a shelf life that’s too short and not really suitable for our operations at the moment. We may have to make some compromises in the recipe regarding what gets added to the oats, to achieve a product shelf life that’s satisfactory to all.
There’ll be some fresh mature beef available next week from a retired dairy cow. We’re sorry to say that two of our Friesians -Lyra and Belinda can no longer get in-calf and produce milk. They both stopped coming into the parlour to be milked several months ago and they’ve spent the whole summer in a field cavorting with one of the main farm’s bulls in an eleventh-hour bid to get them to produce young again. Despite all their best efforts it wasn’t to be, but it’s been pleasing to see them spend their last few months with us on the farm untroubled before they go off to the butchers. Please expect to receive an email for beef orders next week, and we’ll likely have more fresh beef ready in October too.
The apples from the orchard on the farm are beginning to ripen and they’ll be ready for harvesting soon by local lad Steve before being pressed into delicious apple juice by Rupert and his crew. In the meantime, there are plenty of bottles available, both of our own juice and other interesting varieties. Rupert is working flat-out in his workshop producing juice from all over Oxfordshire.
Although the drought doesn’t suit the dairy cows, it is quite popular with the sheep, who like things dry. This year’s lambs are looking exceptionally well! We would like to offer you cuts of lamb, vac-packed as with the beef, on a first-come first-served basis. Please let us know if you think you would be interested to give us an idea of numbers.
And finally, the South Devon foster-mum and calf are doing well. He is refusing milk from human hand due to a full stomach, and she is very protective! They will shortly head off to re-join the other beef cows and calves on the other side of the farm.