There’s a tension between the inexorable turning of the year and the last blast of winter. The days are lengthening, cheering up plants and animals alike, who risk a new cycle of growth. At the same time winter can throw surprises, with the arbitrary moving of cold or warm air masses giving spring - like warmth or icy blasts that nip any springing in the bud.
There are the early signs of growth – catkins starting to lengthen, snowdrops and even the odd primrose. The birdsong builds in the morning and there are deer antlers shed in the woods, as the males get rid of their elaborate headpieces.
We wait for the soil to firm up to spread manure – composted straw bedding with all the lovely animal wastes priming it to work miracles on the soil. Spring barley was our best crop last year. The spring crops provide stubble for overwintering birds, makes good use of the manure, provides feed and bedding for animals next winter, and next spring’s manure: that’s a cycle that is humming.
The spring calved cows start coming in off the crop, and into the barn for a last bit of TLC before they calve at the end of the month. The calf grows visibly bigger in their bellies, and the cows rest, hang out and eat in preparation for the big day. We’ve spent the winter improving buildings. Now we’ll see how the changes land with the cows: they are mostly outside, and these few weeks can make all the difference.
Now the benefits of being outside all winter, keeping toned and fit show up. The animals calve easily with exercised muscles and vigorous little hybrid calves. Calves that have an easy entry to the world are more vigorous and are able to suckle that valuable colostrum first milk, priming their immune systems for life. We keep the calves in a barn that we re-built last year after a fire. Our people showed incredible heroism in saving all of the animals. The calves kept running back into the building seeking the safety in their familiar pens. In the end, the last few calves needed to be carried out of the smoke-filling burning building.
We are making cheese for what we hope are pandemic-free times next year. The cheese starts candle-like and glowing in their fresh cloths, and develops an exquisite pattern and aroma of mould over the months, until they are a rich grey-green colour with flecks of interesting moulds. All of that gives a distinctive and unique flavour profile belonging to this farm.
This year we think everyone deserves a little love; be it a friend, parent, neighbour, partner, colleague or even a little self-love. Make someone's day by sending a package filled with delicious handmade cheese and accompaniments. Discover our collection here.