After all the good news on the farm in November and December, we’re sorry to report that our year did not get off to the best start. Carla, one of our Friesian cows, sadly passed away in January. She was only a couple of weeks from her next calving, but was knocked over by another cow and couldn’t get back on her feet. Whilst not looking distressed in any way, it became apparent something was wrong after we noticed she was lying down in the same position for too long. Water, feed, and dry straw were brought to her and she was made as comfortable as possible in the hopes of a recovery. Despite several attempts to help her to stand by lifting her up with the tractor and hoist, the internal injuries caused were too severe for her to get better. She was a very gracious and good-natured cow and she will be missed.
We also have some unsettling news about another Friesian, Florence, who became quite poorly with severe mastitis not long after she calved. The infection really took it out of her and she lost a lot of condition, wasn’t eating well, and really wasn’t herself. And this all happened when we were going through a very cold spell of weather which meant her recuperation time wasn’t easy at all. Happily, she’s now very much on the mend and is looking more like her usual dynamic self, but the time spent fighting the bug has had a really negative impact on her milk yields. What few litres she is producing, we’re feeding straight to the calves, and as Florence has had a history of mastitis it’s unlikely we would want to risk getting her in calf again for another lactation, only to see her potentially become ill once more. Hopefully, she’ll have a very healthy summer this year, flourishing in her retirement time with the beef herd.
This all means that milk yields are very low, as we’re two cows down, and are back in the market for some more cows much sooner than we had anticipated.
However, we do have some good news too!
Website & online shop
We are excited to announce that our new website is now alive and kicking! We’ve been working on it for the best part of a year now, in between all our many other jobs. A big thank you to our trainee farm manager, Nick, for helping us get the show on the road. Please take a look at www.northastonfarms.co.uk and find out who’s who and what’s what here on the farm and in the dairy. We hope you’ll find it both informative and entertaining, and any feedback will be much appreciated.
You will notice on the website that we also have a new online shop. This is to allow people to order our organic ice cream and pasture-fed meat for delivery (within 15 miles of North Aston) or collection, without becoming a member of our regular milk round. If you have friends and family in the wider local area who you think may be interested in buying our produce, please send them our way.
There is quite a bit of frozen beef and lamb available, and there will be some more fresh beef (and maybe some rosé veal too) coming back from the butcher in early March! We'll send out a reminder about that nearer the time. All our milk round customers will get at least 48 hours advance notice of any new stock in the online shop, before we tell the wider local community!
Of course, any items listed on the online shop will also be available for you to buy in the normal way, by emailing us. But if you’d prefer not to wait for us to get back to you, you can pay for these items upfront on the website and we will add them to your regular delivery/collection.
However, in order to make this happen, you need to:
Add your items to the basket
Proceed to the checkout
In the delivery/collection instructions box, write your unique payment reference (below ‘Total to Pay’ on your monthly invoice - e.g. “Taylor J&V NA”).
On the next section, under Delivery Method, select ’Collection / Milk Round Delivery' and click Continue.
Complete the checkout process, paying by debit/credit card.
You will receive a confirmation email and your items will be added to your next delivery/collection but will not appear on your monthly bill. The above instructions are also on our new FAQS page, for your future reference.
From now on, the stock levels on the online shop will be our most accurate record of what is actually in the fridges & freezers, so please look there to see what we have available before ordering. We will try and keep the spreadsheet updated too for a few months, but it won't be quite as accurate.
Thistling Society Workday (& lunch)
Thank you very much to those of you who have joined the North Aston Thistling Society! For those of you who missed this option in the survey (and are wondering what on earth we’re on about), this is our new club of volunteers who have said they’d love to come to the farm and help us with various manual, outdoor jobs - such as removing thistles from our pastures. While “thistling” is still going to be the core business of the group, we have thought of plenty of other enticing things to do to keep us busy until the thistles come up in the spring! Our first event is to be held on Saturday February 18th from 10am - click below to find out more and book your spot.
Milking Demonstration and Q&A
Nick has also offered to host small groups of curious customers who would like to come and watch the cows being milked. There are two dates available at the moment: February 13th and 27th, at 4pm...
Deddington Eco Festival
We will be hosting a stall at the Deddington Eco Festival on the 18th March, and James will be doing a short talk about our nature-friendly farming approach and the need for local, resilient food systems. It is being held at Deddington Church - more details will be in our next newsletter.
And now the moment you've all been waiting for...our GRAND PRIZE DRAW!
Watch our incredibly professional video below to find out if you have won a year’s supply of our delicious ice cream!
Congratulations to the lucky winner, and many thanks again to everybody who took part in the survey - we've learnt a lot.
All the best,
James & Vicky, Graham, Nick, Will and Sasha, plus the rest of the North Aston Farms team, and our cows: Leah, Darla, Precious, Margaret, Lottie, Jocie, Florence, Raindrop, Ivy, Lisa, Blossom, Violet, Holly, Butterfly, Connie, Mary, Iona & Sprout.