The days are getting shorter and darker and the plants are feeling the lack of light. We’re grateful to have Christmas to distract us from the disappearing light. Now is the time when I try to recall where I’ve seen holly berries growing, and go off ranging for those evergreen boughs that bring colour to my Christmas table.
Squirrels are busily collecting food and readying their dens, preparing for their long winter sleep. From squirrels to farmers, it’s the burst of energy we all need to get us ready for the colder, darker days. At least we have a warm hearth and a festive feast to look forward to while we wait for spring.
The crops all got snuggled up in their seedbeds by Guy Fawkes’ Night, and the little seed leaves are all poking bravely into the December air. It’s a satisfying assurance of new life and next year’s harvest. They create a beautiful tapestry of bright green, woven into the rich brown and red soil, the even rows showing the sensuous shape of the hills. Even rows make me happy as a farmer; they’re the first step of a good yield.
The cows will graze until the soil will no longer support them. We want to graze the grass until it’s short and clean enough to come happily through the frost. Old, mildewed leaves get blasted by frost, while fresh growth is more resilient. The frost creeps across the fields, etching every leaf, and when it thaws, those same perfect bright green leaves reappear.
The spring cows are on the dreamy slope to calving. We milk them once a day. Calves heavy in their bellies, they can’t be bothered. Their milk becomes very rich. On its own, it would be tricky to make into cheese, so fatty and the protein as lackadaisical as the cows.
Most of the autumn cows are just in calf. We will bring them inside for the night now, to make sure they have a good feed of silage as the grass is more sparse and wintry. We made some very young, leafy grass silage, and it will be interesting to see how the girls get on with it, cut and pickled in April. We hope it’ll put a spring in their stride, and a lift to their milk.
In the cheese dairy, the vats steam with warm milk on these cold days. We always worry the curd will chill, and we can wrap it under cheesecloth if it looks to be a slow make. A benefit of mixing the Cornish Sea Salt in so carefully is that we no longer get chilled fines that sit as crumbly cheese that never quite knit together in the mature cheese.
Visiting & ordering
We are busy packing up Christmas orders. Let us know if you want to send a hamper or a box of cheese as a gift. You can visit the website www.quickes.co.uk, pop into the Farm Shop or call us on 01392 851000.
If you’d like to visit the farm and see for yourself grass, cows, making cheese, storing, and of course eating, we are doing tours on the last Friday of each month from the spring. Book at www.quickes.co.uk/pages/cheese-tours. That could be a good present for the person who doesn’t need any more things, and who wants a unique experience.
Shop Christmas opening times:
The shop is open on Sunday 24th December, 10am-2pm.
We're open again on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th December (10am-4pm), so you can replenish the stores ready for New Year, and then open as normal from 2nd January.
Online ordering times:
Last orders online must be made by Monday 18th December in order to guarantee delivery by Friday 22nd December, at the latest.
M A R Y Q U I C K E