Naturally at this time of year, we all tend to look back and reflect on the past 12 months and wonder what the forthcoming year will bring.....here's a snippet of what's been going on at Rhug in 2015.
JANUARY / FEBRUARY / MARCH
A very wet start to the year with flooding in many parts of the country but for some reason for the first time for many years and despite all the rain the River Dee remained with in its banks.
All the ewes were scanned to see how many lambs they were carrying and Rob Hughes’ flock was brought into the lambing shed where they are looked after 24 hours a day until they lamb and then they go back out to the field. This means that the flock are warm and dry and the shepherds can keep a close eye on them.
Many of the cattle are inside also at this time of the year, this stops poaching of the ground outside and means earlier grass in the spring.
The shooting season finished on the 1 February, after a busy season for the catering team doing breakfasts and lunches for many of the shoots in the area.
Welsh Champion running event held at Rhug, the annual running event was well attended and I enjoyed starting the races and presenting prizes. Like with any competition there were winners and losers but the competitive spirit prevailed throughout. It was lovely to see so many young people competing and taking the event all very seriously. This is a fun day for all concerned both competitors and spectators, particularly if you are warmly clad.
Valentines night in the The Bison Grill - the most romantic day of the year celebrated by a night in the Bistro with a delicious menu and a flickering candle light dinner.
I visited the Far East and the Middle East to promote our meat sales to some of the most restaurants and hotels in the world.
Easter holidays proved to be the busiest time of the year with record sales in the shop and a full bistro all day every day.
We had a record lambing in wonderful conditions and although the spring was cold it was dry so the lambs and the calves enjoyed the lovely spring weather.
Peplow Farm was sold to another organic farmer, as I plan to move live at Rhug full time and cut down on the daily commute from Shropshire. The plan is that I can then spend even more time promoting and growing the Rhug business.
APRIL / MAY / JUNE
The spring work on the farm was done in brilliant conditions, sowing, reseeding.
Discussions began for the big grassland event to be held at Rhug 2016 and planning for this event will continue over the next six months. This is a big and prestigious event and needs a lot of forward planning.
The fishing season got off to a quiet and slow start with very little activity in the river.
Work on our hydro schemes on the river Alwyn and Lydia Parc began and plans were being progressed for 25 acres (5 megawatts) of solar panels on the Glynllifon Estate on the coast, and schemes at Rhug. The start of the year was very windy and the wind turbines on the coast put in an outstanding performance.
We hosted the PK rally as in previous years with 92 competitors, the most popular one yet. The catering was run by ourselves and the catering van was expertly manned by Gary, Debbie and the team.
We hosted the International Sheep Shearing competition again at Rhug which has now become a big annual event with about 3000 people attending this competitive and very social event.
The turkey chicks arrived on the farm and the Bison Calves were born with their lovely orange colour.
A very successful charity evening was held in the Bistro to raise money for the Nepal Disaster fund and a staggering £17,250 was raised for this amazing cause.
We had another very successful annual bus trip bringing chefs and front of house staff up to the farm for the day from London. This involves a tour of the farm and the cutting plant along with a butchery demonstration and is always fully subscribed.
JULY / AUGUST / SEPTEMBER
The summer holidays brought masses of people to Rhug to enjoy the facilities of the farm shop and to stop on their journey into or out of Wales. Rhug has now become well recognised as a great place to stop and break your journey.
An outside extension was built to provide an extension to the Bistro and the outside eating area was improved with glass sides opening giving better shelter and opening up the wonderful views over the park.
The summer menu including a selection of delicious salads was very popular with visitors to the Bistro and BBQs were a big seller in the shop.
The twice yearly visits to our export customers took place this included Hong Kong, Macau, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Thailand and Singapore.
Plans started for the expansion of our chicken enterprise on the farm and this will involve increasing our production from 600 to 1500 a week and then phase 2 to 3000 a week. It is hoped that phase 1 will be completed by August 2016. The new set up will involve planting trees in the field for the chickens to range out to and shelter under on a barmy summers day.
Although July and August were not the best summer months we have every had being rather cold and wet, we had a lovely September which meant the combining of the crops and the winter painting were carried out in perfect weather conditions.
The love of Lord Newborough’s life arrived in the form of a chocolate Labrador called Truffles.
OCTOBER / NOVEMBER / DECEMBER
Ty Mawr farm on the coast has had a record year with many of its Salt Marsh lambs going for export Dubai and on the farm the cattle are being brought in for the winter.
The Hydro schemes at Lydia Parc and the Alwyn were completed along with the 25 acre solar park on the Glynllifon Estate and I was made an honorary fellowship for my services to the environment.
A promotional film on the farm and the Estate was completed visitors will be able to view this in the Bistro.
November has been very busy on the wholesale and farming side of the business with a lot of turkeys going out for Thanks Giving and an ever increasing demand for organic meat for school meals, delis, export and hotels in London.
The Bistro has remained busy and there has not been the usual fall off with business. The shooting season brings a lot of extra business with shooting parties having breakfasts and lunches.
Ynyr, who many of you might know who has been at Rhug for many years, lately working as shop manager, left to take up a new role as meat manager with our distributors in Hong Kong. A great opportunity for him and it’s also good for Rhug to have someone who knows the business so well as an important contact in Hong Kong.
December is full of activity, with a busy run up to Christmas, we welcomed, craft makers and wreath makers here and are looking forward to welcoming father Christmas here too.
The new appointment of a Chief Executive Officer Mike Hall who started on 2 December, and sadly, Jon Edwards, Managing Director of Rhug retail division is leaving the company after 10 years to take up a new challenge at the Ludlow Food Centre. We all wish him well.
On that note, I would like to thank you all for your loyal custom over the past 12 months and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.