The joyful plenty of September is tinged with sadness at the heralds of autumn. The joy is the pleasure of full barns, orchards and hedges heavy with fruit, our autumn herd calving and newly sown crops germinating. The sadness is my clinging on to the passing year, the days now galloping towards equal length as the nights. In spring, leaves are luminous, bright with infinite variety. The even mid-green of high summer is now tinged with browns and ochres.
Warm weather in spring gave a harvest both early and plentiful. Now we sow next year’s crops. Given last year’s rain from the middle of September, we’ll get on with it and risk over-leafy growth in the balmy September days. We sowed maize when the rain hampered earlier crops. We now harvest the golden heavy ears, full of starch, the sun’s energy for the dark times of year. We will grow a little next year, and mostly we will sow red clover and grass.
Our fertile valley land, with the help of some well-timed rain showers, feeds the calving cows. We’ve grown some standing hay to feed the girls while they are calving. It’s better for them to keep their bellies full with stalky, seed headed grass. When the calf comes, they still have capacity to take in lots of the leafier grass they will enjoy. Even heavy in calf, they still are up for evening chats. The first calving heifers calve first, so they have a chance to settle down and be the herd that the more experienced cows are joining to avoid any bullying.
One will find a quiet spot on her own, tail out as the calf moves inside her, water bag first, then front feet, muzzle, last push to get the shoulders out, then the calf drops, slithering, with slurps as the gap is filled briefly with air. The calf lands, and usually that shock is enough to set them breathing. Our vigorous little cross bred cows calf easily, with lively calves. The new mother gazes, it seems with wonder, at her own production, and licks and nuzzles the new born into taking those first wobbly steps to suckle the first milk that is so health-giving. Happy joining of mouth to teat of full udder, and urgent sucking of first meal.
In the cheese dairy, we mix the new milk from the autumn cows with the steady milk from the spring cows. Soon, that milk will become over fatty, and as the autumn cows’ milk increases, the mix will balance out to make a lovely rich cheese. Then into the nursery stores. The young cheese is glowing and pristine. Slowly, starting at about a month old, the moulds develop in a beautiful unique artwork on each cheese, conferring the special taste of this place.
Our sales are a little hampered with people still cautious about eating out. We’ve been so grateful to people who’ve still sought our cheese out online and from local shops. We need to know how much cheese to make for a year and more ahead. My crystal ball is a little cloudy and we are trusting this cheese will find people to enjoy it.
Lots of blossom in the spring, so much fruit on the trees now. Time to pair our cheese with some of the delicious single variety ciders from Sandford Orchards. Tremletts Bitter is my favourite just now. I’m enjoying it with our Vintage Cheddar and Peters Yard's Crackers: the tannins in the cider soften beautifully with the luscious nutty, savoury salty gentle caramel of our twenty-four month flagship cheese. Celebrate the apple, Devon’s glory, pairing with the luscious cheeses that arise from our rich green grass.