Every month seems to be hectic, as one gets older either I move more slower or life moves quicker. Of course, it started with the inevitable April fools joker, Sarah in Sales was asked to call a Mr C Lyon and given the phone number of Chester Zoo, someone always falls for it every year!!! Haaaaha.
Once again, I find myself on my way to the far reaches of the World, this time to sell Rhug meat in Singapore, this is a long flight, but it gives me a chance to catch up with writing my monthly report to you all. It will be a grueling week starting with a night flight landing at 7.30am then straight into work, lunch with a potential customer followed by a staff training session.
My step daughter came to stay the weekend with the grandchildren, which is always a treat all be it a bit noisy. Visits are all too infrequent now as they are growing up and get involved in playing in cricket, rugby and football teams. They are very sporty which is lovely and it is always a treat when they come and stay.
On the farm lambing, continues at full thrust and this year it will definitely go down as one of the best lambing seasons in history, with the ewes giving birth to record numbers of lambs. Unfortunately, the weather has been unfavourable during this month, cold and wet and the grass has not grown at all. It has not been good for turning the ewes and lambs out onto pasture and this has produced problems with mastitis in the ewes leading to losses, leading onto the challenge what to do with the orphan lambs. There is always something to cause one a head ache.
The cattle have been doing well and we have been helped with having a good crop of silage from last year so no rush to turn the cattle out. The new Aberdeen Angus cross stabiliser calves being born over on our coastal farm look fantastic and we hope the decision to introduce the breed into our herd will prove to be a positive one with even better confirmation, marbling and flavour.
We had a great visit from Cyrus Todiwala, of Cafe Spice and The Spice Men Fame with his son Hormuzd and the team, to do three days of filming which will be used to promote the merits of buying from premium British producers. This was lots of fun and filming took place on all aspects of Rhug, the shop, the bistro, the cutting plant, Rhug Farm and Ty Mawr our costal farm with the emphasis on the advantages of sustainable farming, animal welfare and organic farming methods. Time was also spent filming the other aspects of Rhug including events and alternative energy projects.
A new experience for me this year was to attend the Gastro Nord Show in Stockholm for four days to assess what opportunities there might be in exporting to this very organically minded part of the World. We were invited to share the HCC Welsh stand and this helped us to give a unified front to promote Welsh Lamb. We hope that the show will prove to be productive but only time will tell.
Craig’s (MD of Rhug Ltd) wife had a baby girl which caused a degree of excitement in the office and we all wish them well. Very sadly Tessa our delicatessen queen and the smiling face behind the cheese counter for many years left to go to pastures green, we will miss you Tessa. Otherwise the shop, bistro and On the Hoof take away outlet continue to get busier as the weather improves and more people venture for time out into the wonderful and stunningly beautiful Welsh countryside. A warm welcome will always be found at Rhug for you and your dogs.
Catrin and Amy took advantage of a sunny day and led the way round the farm walk refreshing our “QR” code signs so members of the public can download information on the farm as they walk round. There was a brief encounter with some cattle and Louise (sales and credit control) was last seen running for the river!!!!
We had a very interesting and rewarding visit from a team from Daylesford Organic a very well known and respected operation owned by Lord and Lady Bamford. Their team was headed up by their CEO Nick Fletcher and we were able to have an excellent discussion on the challenges of organic farming and protecting and building a brand, this was enthusiastically embraced by those involved.
Joan and I squeezed in a selling trip to London and we were privileged to meet all the chefs of the beautiful Firmdale group of boutique Hotels owned by Tim and Kim Kemp. We hope that we will be able to supply them in the coming years. Brad Johns and Joan pictured in The Charlotte Street Hotel with some wonderful Bara Brith bread he had baked specially for our visit.
The year goes round and once again we find our wonderful Croatian customer Zori’s ordering off us again as the Summer season starts again.
One very exciting telephone call came in this month from a chef at Clarence House to say that HRH the Prince of Wales had very much enjoyed the Rhug lamb that they served for a private dinner given for the Obamas on their recent visit to London.
By the end of the month spring was beginning to awaken with, daffodils, primroses, buds busting out on the hedges, birds singing and blossom adorning the trees. With a glimpse of every ray of sunshine the lambs can be seen playing in the fields.
David Pooler, who has been the game keeper here at Rhug for 29 years, held a charity day’s clay pigeon shoot and despite the fact that the heavens opened and being one of the wettest days of the month everyone seemed to enjoy it and money was raised for a good cause, well done David. He can now get on with shooting the rabbits digging holes in my lawn!!!!
To add to all the other excitements of the month we also had a motor bike scrambling event to raise money for the Air Ambulance, luckily it was a dry sunny day but again like the running event earlier in the month it proved to be a muddy affair. Gareth Jones, farm manager at Rhug, was our entry on the day was seen flying round and finished in 3rd place in the over 50’s. Well done Gareth. Gareth can be seen officially joining the flying farmers clubs. So never a dull moment at Rhug, the month closes with a furious flurry of spring work going on around the farm. Gareth you deserve that long weekend break in Budapest to recover from a hectic and stressful time.
Oh yes, and to finish off on a really high note, Rhug has been elected as a finalist in the Foot Print Awards together with Coca Cola. My thanks go to Philip Hughes, Estate manager and his team for achieving this accolade in acknowledgement for all the great works that has gone on at Rhug and Glynliffon Estates to harness green sustainable energy and saving vast amounts of carbon in the process. Much of what you look at Rhug utilises green energy in some form or other.
Wishing you all a happy spring,