Can you believe it’s the end of February already?! Despite a bitterly cold last few days, it’s definitely starting to feel like spring is on its way and things are starting to come to life all around the farm. We’ve had a very busy and tiring few weeks and are all in need of a rest - so we thought we’d get this month’s newsletter off early!
It’s all rather quiet on the farm this month and all is well with the cows. Florence continues to improve from her bout of mastitis but without Carla’s milk, and low yields given our new pasture-only diet, we don’t have a drop of milk to spare! Like most farmers in the south of England, our supplies of winter forage are worryingly low after having to feed bales to get us through last summer’s drought. We are hoping for rain and sun and an early turnout!
APPLE JUICE: Rupert at Tiddly Pommes has made good progress on working through his backlog and last week delivered us a crate of forty bottles of juice. It’s a mid-season blend from a group of households in Hampton Poyle and is nice and sharp and punchy. We are not sure if Rupert can keep us consistently stocked for restarting the regular weekly orders, but if you would like to order a bottle, or would like to stock up and place an order for a few bottles, please let us know by responding to this email. The bottles are priced £4.00/litre. The next batch of juice we receive will hopefully be a large batch from our own orchard here on the farm.
ORGANIC CHEESE: We’re very excited to be working with Nettlebed Creamery and should be able to start delivering their delicious organic cheeses to you the week after next. We will send out another email, including pricing, when they are available to add to your delivery/collection.
STAFFING: We’re delighted to welcome our new dairy assistant, Inga, to the team. She is already proving a huge help on the processing side of things and is also learning the ropes in the milking parlour.
EASTER LAMB: There will be fresh lamb available in the week before Easter as well as some Rose Veal on the way. We still have a small amount of frozen beef and lamb in stock, take a look on the website or click on the link below to see what we have got.
WATCH A MILKING: This month, we hosted two small groups of customers who came to watch Nick milk the cows. We’ve decided to make this a regular thing and there are two more opportunities in March (on the evenings of Monday 13th & Thursday 30th) for you to come and see how your milk is made! As well as being a chance to ask any questions you may have, you’ll get to meet the cows, feed the calves, watch the whole milking process, and for the keen, have a go at milking the cows yourself! To sign up, please click here.
THISTLING SOCIETY: On Saturday 18th February, the inaugural meeting of the North Aston Thistling Society took place here at the dairy. After a slow initial takeup of just one enthusiastic volunteer, there was a late rush and we ended up hosting a good crowd of 15! We were blessed with beautiful warm weather, and despite a few participants suffering the after-effects on Friday night at the White Horse, we were all keen to get stuck in. Our morning's work was focused on the boundaries of Middle Field, where we split into two groups. The first group, led by James, spent the morning "beating up" the roadside hedge we planted last spring. This meant removing dead saplings that didn't survive the summer drought and replacing them with new ones. Fingers crossed there won't be another record-dry summer! Jeremy and Nick worked with the rest of the crew tackling the removal of a very old stock fence from a nearby hedgerow. This involved a crash course in pulling out old staples using specialist fencing pliers while negotiating the seemingly impenetrable wall of brambles.
By 12.30, we were all ravenous, but proud of a job well done, having achieved more than we had hoped to. Thankfully, Vicky and Jo were ready and waiting up at the farmhouse with a hearty, home-cooked lunch. Alongside soup made with North Aston Organics veg and bread from Forge House Bakery, Graham's butter, made from our own cream, was a big hit! It was a delight to spend time working alongside some of our customers, putting names to faces and getting to know them. In the afternoon, a smaller crew tidied up and tackled another section of hedge - making way for a new, more direct cow track from the milking parlour to our furthest-away field. Thank you very much to everyone who joined, and roll on the next one on April 1st (by which time there will be some actual thistling to do!). More details to come, but if you're keen, get the date in your diary now.