Tuesday, 19 July 2011

I don’t even want to look back and see how long it has been since I last wrote to you all. Shocking state of affairs and one for which I apologise whole-heartedly. It has just been soooo busy!! Oh my goodness – I’ve lost a stone in weight (which is fantastic by the way!) but purely because of all the rushing around! I still eat like a horse, obviously!

So, let me fill you in. The Cow Shed is finally finished and looking fabulous! It hosted our first ever Hen Weekend and was perfect. For those of you not following Park Mill Farm on Facebook or Twitter (why ever not??) the whole weekend went really well. The Hens camped in the back orchard, underneath the apple trees, and they had the Cow Shed to party in. On Saturday Olly taught them Clay Pigeon Shooting and then it was back to the Cow Shed for lunch and sausage making in the afternoon. That evening we had a BBQ and even the weather was semi-respectable in the end (after a very shaky start!)

Hen Weekend

The very same day that the Hens left we turned the Cow Shed into a studio apartment for some friends to come and stay the night which proved it’s true versatility. Its next booking is for a sales meeting next week and I can see the farm being a really great venue for all different types of occasions.

Chilling outside the Cow Shed
Chilling outside the Cow Shed

Our next batch of pork will be ready on Saturday. The pork has already sold – even before the pigs head off to the butcher – which is fantastic and just goes to show that people really can taste the difference between slow-grown, happy meat and the meat bought in supermarkets.
The apples are just starting to fall from the trees here so the pigs’ diet will mainly consist of apples from now until around October. They just love apples – it’s their best thing ever – closely followed by tummy scratches of course! We are going off to have a look at some Large Black weaners on Friday with a view to getting some. Gloucestershire Old Spots, Large Blacks and Saddlebacks have to be my favourite breeds and to have a few of each would be lovely. They will become our Christmas meat as well and should taste fantastic after all those apples!

Nelly, my breeding sow in the making, is continuing to be an absolute delight. She and her brother, George, are just the friendliest pigs I’ve ever met and anyone who comes to see them just falls in love. It’s Nelly and George who are in the forefront of the first Hen Weekend picture. Over the next few months I am going to have to turn my thoughts to getting Nelly ‘in pig’. We are going to time it so she has her first litter in March/April next year. Can’t wait!!

We are also looking to increase our chicken numbers. Our egg round is fully booked and I would love to be able to extend it. We are building another enclosure for them which will be slightly larger than the one they presently have, not that it matters too much as they all wander free range around the full 20 acres during the day, but I am sure that I must lose a lot of eggs that way. Occasionally I’ll find a duck or chicken egg abandoned somewhere where the magpies have had a tasty meal of it.
The farm is starting to look really good. The sweet-peas are amazing and bring so much colour to the place, along with the foxgloves, snapdragons, larkspur and cosmos. Everything is bursting with life and it’s a great place to be. Winter seems like a distant memory and a mere speck on the horizon and summer 2011 is good. We have brought a wood-fired pizza oven to put outside the Cow Shed so that when we hire it out for parties we can cook magnificent suppers on it for people. It’s great fun and looks fantastic and just makes a BBQ that more special.

Anyway, I’m going to have to shoot off. We’ve got Year 1 of our local primary school coming to visit in half an hour so I want to be all ready for them. They came a couple of months back and had a great time feeding the pigs and seeing all the animals, so much so, they wanted to come again! Just love it!